Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Pensacon 2023 Recap

Where to start? 2022 was the first full year of returning to the convention scene and getting The Grand Bazaar of Ethra VanDalia out in front of people. I was uncertain what that meant for my convention presence and sales, but this is the direction I am taking my career, so sink or swim, this is what I am doing. I braced for diminished sales and starting at Pensacon 2022, I was blown away with how the book was received and the dramatic increase in sales at conventions. Going into 2023, I knew that there was no way that I would hit last year's numbers, especially with only one final copy of the deluxe edition of the book left. I sold eight of them last year, which was a large part of what made the sales last year so good. I hoped for the best and knew it would be a slower year.

The Grand Bazaar returns to Pensacon!

I will be the first to say I am often wrong when predicting what will happen at conventions. Even with only having a single deluxe edition, we not only hit last year's numbers, but we did $75 more this year than last. This is a massive win in my book. I have yet to crunch all of the numbers, but we sold more across the board and had more individual sales compared to last year. I am getting better at talking about the book, which is an integral part of this, but we have been working on how we display things, we are offering incentives to upsell, and we have items at different price points. One of the new things we tried this year was to turn on tipping with our POS interface. It was suggested to me last year, and at first, I was resistant because it felt a little weird to me. I got over that very quickly. Everyone can ignore it, but others have been generous at having left me a tip, and it has been super humbling. It also has been covering the fees for accepting credit cards, so it is a win/win. I will be doing a post about the evolution of my booth shortly. Looking back at the past Pensacons, Gen Cons, and IX shows, has opened my eyes to how much the booth has evolved and how my artistic voice has coalesced in the booth.

Unlike past Pensacons, I was at my booth 99% of the time this year. I could only get one item signed, and I never was able to eat lunch - in the green room or elsewhere. I had bathroom breaks, and that was about it. The reason was this was twofold, the first being the con was EXTREMELY full (sold out on Saturday and Sunday), and it was very time-consuming to get anywhere other than the bathroom, and the second being that I was too busy at the booth to get away. I needed to be there, talking about my world and available for signatures and sales. And I had a blast doing it. I am used to getting out a little bit and looking around, maybe hanging out in the green room to see celebrities or going down to the floor to shop. I never got to the vendor floor, even before the con started. It feels like things have changed in several ways at conventions for me, all in a good way, but in ways that will change how I plan and prepare for them. I had to ramp back some of my after-hours fun with folks as I needed to stay rested and ready to take on the booth every morning. I am also getting older, and I can not do the late nights and early mornings like I once could. But I am doing much better at the shows, so I will gladly take an early night to keep this going. 

Lastly, it was truly remarkable to have so many come up to tell me how much they have been enjoying the Grand Bazaar, that they got the books from me last year, and how they have been telling others about it. There is something extraordinary to watch a person bring a friend up to the booth, and they point and say, "THIS was what I was talking about. You need to see it." I do not have words for it, but it moves me every time.

Here are images and thoughts from Pensacon 2023.

With better sales numbers from a year's worth of conventions, we got a smaller trailer. This saves money on the trailer and gas from towing a lighter, smaller trailer. It makes it easier to load, drive with, and move around for parking once the trailer is empty.

I had nothing but the best help when loading the trailer this year.

For those wondering, I hang all the art on the wall, then take them down, and Dear Wife hangs the red curtains. We make little cuts in the curtain and hang the art again.

While I miss the hotel that was adjacent to the convention center, the beach hotels really offer a lot visually.

All set up for day one. While I always try to have the booth completed the day before a con starts, I had to finish up several things before the con started.

This is the view of the vendor floor from my booth. This was also the closest I went to the vendor floor during the convention.

I knew the final deluxe edition would sell quickly. It took about forty minutes for the right person to come by and get it. Always lovely to hear they had planned to get one since last year, and it worked out perfectly.

While I hope for originals to sell, I never expect them to sell off the wall. Again, I like it when I am wrong.

The first of several Magic the Gathering artist proof drawings.

When I said the con was sold out... it was SOLD OUT. Every day the lines would wrap in front of the booths, and we would have a captive audience. Not the best for sales at the moment, but EVERYONE has to walk by the booth, and many return later in the day to make purchases.

The after-party Saturday night was Vison Video, and they rocked it!

A couple more artist proof drawings.

Got to get this fantastic human a drawing that means a great deal to me. Thanks, Lemmie!

The booth on the last day of the con with the hidden wife.

Being a guest at Pensacon offers many perks, like eating dinner with Vision Video and having a Doctor stop by.

Thank you, Penscon!

And there, on the door, was a face...

That is all for another exciting Wednesday on the blog. See you back here on Friday. Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability, head over to my website:

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