I’m not talking connivers either… although, to be honest, there is a little of that too. No, what I am talking about is conventions! Over the last couple of days (as I write this) I have had two separate conventions brought to my attention and I looked into both. Mostly it was just an inquiry about interest and I filled out the form.
Apparently, for one, there was enough interest because I was sent another link asking me to commit to one of them on a first come first served basis but wait, hold the phone, what’s this?
“I agree to pay the invoice. My table will be confirmed once [redacted] receives payment. I understand that Author cancellations are not refundable. I understand the rooms, meals, and travel are not included.”
*scrolling… scrolling… scrolling…*
Huh. Nope. I see a lot of packages for convention goers, you know, lunch with an author or VIP this or that, the regular convention services offered for this sort of thing, but what I don’t see is cost for a table… Oh. Wait. That’s not good. Apparently they want me to pay to have dinner with my fans but they also want to charge my fans to have dinner with me… That can’t be right! Can it?
Anyways, these got me to thinking about conventions and the potential for me traveling pretty much across the country to attend one. Now, I’m from Seattle, it rains here all the freaking time! So what do you do when it rains all the freaking time? Yeah, indoor pursuits! What is the top indoor pursuit around here for the tech nerd capital of the known world? You guessed it! Conventions! We have Norwescon, Sakura Con, Emerald City Comic Con, Zombie Con, and those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head.
Seriously, you want a treat in my city? Park a lawn chair at any of the street corners near the Washington State Convention Center on Easter weekend. The anime cosplay that wanders by is nothing short of eyepoppingly amazing.
So knowing how conventions work, I see something across the country either in the East, South or Midwest or whatever I’m like… Ah! I reeeeeeally wanna go, buuuuut yeah… I live in the most inconvenient corner of the states for travel to these things because I am looking at quite a few things.
1. Airfare and not just for me, for my fiancé too. I don’t think he would let me get on a plane and travel that far without him. He’d be a total worried mess. I wouldn’t do that to him. It was an argument and a half to get him to leave me at a local book signing when I’m ball and chained to a table for more than a couple of hours because watching him sit in a corner and play basketball games on his iPhone for 9+ hours made my heart hurt for him. Poor guy was so bored! Still, I know better than to think I would get away with a cross country flight without him by my side.
We travelled to Virginia earlier this year and the airfare for me, my fiancé and my 12 year old stepson was around $1500 bucks. And we got a pretty good deal! So let’s just pretend that for me and my fiancé to get to a convention on the opposite coast or in the south somewhere we’re looking at around that amount, we’ll go with $1200 bucks. Keep that number, we’ll come back to it later.
2. Extra baggage fees. Because clothes fit into a carryon, but bringing enough books to have on hand to sell and sign, well, they not only weigh a lot they take up a lot of space. So I am looking at not only checked bag fees but also overweight bag fees on top of that to get them there with me. And on top of that we’re talking both directions! Because if I sold out of books I fucked up and didn’t bring enough and if I didn’t well I have to bring what I didn’t sell back with me. We’ll say, round trip, $250 bucks for checked bags and over weight fees.
3. Accommodations as in a hotel room for the entire weekend is probably the cheapest part of a potential trip, not going to lie. Still looking at around $300 or more when you factor in I would have to be there early to get oriented and set up for this.
4. Food for the entire trip. I can’t bring my kitchen and eating out can be expensive. My fiancé and I eat. We’re looking at $20 a meal for each of us and we’ll say lunch & dinner and just pretend that the hotel provides breakfast so that’s $80/day for the both of us times 3 days… We’ll set the food budget at $250. Why not?
5. The books. I don’t get them for free and while I will be reselling them, please keep in mind I only get about $3.25/copy for one of my paperbacks even though they sell for $15.00. The rest is the cost of printing and to keep the tax man happy. Now I would have 7 books for sale by the time either of these events rolled around, just in the SHMC series alone. That would cost me something like $700.00 to be stocked with 20 copies of each book. We’ll pretend that will be enough for this exercise even though if I really wanted to be stocked and stocked well it would be way more than that for the first book and maybe a few more for each subsequent book but for now, we’ll say $700.00 for stock.
6. Registration / Table fee is standard operating procedure for selling at a convention. Typically, around $50.00 for a con that is local and just starting out with local talent. For this we’ll say it’s $100.00 for table and registration for two people. Me and my assistant, which in this case is my fiancé. (Sorry honey.)
7. There are probably more expenses involved here. Like how are we getting to the con from the airport? Well then you have to add car rental in. Fun. So we’re just going to slap down $500.00 extra for car rental and any other miscellaneous expenses that may be required. Maybe there is someone selling a bit of pretty I just have to have or, “Oh my god is that Carian Cole!? Squeeee! I have to go buy and have every book she has on offer signed.” (Yes, I would fangirl that hard over Carian.)
I’m going to stop here because I think you’re getting the picture. Have you been keeping track of what we’ve spent so far? No? That’s okay! Because I have.
$1200.00 for a flight.
250.00 for the bags and transporting the books.
300.00 for accommodations.
250.00 to feed my fat ass.
700.00 for stock
100.00 for registration
500.00 just in case
Let’s add that up right quick.
So far I am into this trip and this convention… wait for it… $3,300.00.
Let’s go back to the books I brought with me to sell, I said 20 copies of 7 books that’s 140 books, times the $3.25 cents I make per book… So I’ve recouped $455.00 if I sold out of everything I brought for this.
$3,300.00 – 455.00 = I’m still in the hole $2,845.00…
I would LOVE to come to your convention but I can’t be throwing money like confetti to sit behind a table for 10+ hours / day for three days.
I’m not trying to be a bitch here, I’m trying to inject a little reality into the situation. I love writing. I love telling my stories and I love that people love my work, but key word there: work. It takes a lot of time, effort, blood, tears, time lost with your family and loved ones to create these books and there are days I feel like screaming goddamn it! I deserve to be compensated for this! I work my ass off and money doesn’t do this:
One thought on “A little note about Cons…”
I have been told by many pros that the goal of going to a Con is to break even, not to make money. I don't think fans are really aware of that, and it's why only the big players with publishing houses who pick up the tab go all over the place. The rest of us stay in our region or combine business with pleasure. I love doing them, but yes, they ain't cheap.
P.S. Don't forget about the cost of the promo materials.