2015 was my third year exhibiting my books on Author’s Avenue at Gen Con. Over 61,000 attendees converged on downtown Indianapolis for four days of gaming and geekery. A percentage of them purchased my novels (it was a statistically insignificant percentage, but we’re talking numbers here). On Thursday I sold through half of my inventory of Malediction. On Friday, I sold very few copies of Malediction, but quite a bit of everything else. Saturday and Sunday were down overall, but I sold a good mix, and by the end of the day on Sunday, Malediction was sold out.
Based purely on impressions and feelings, Saturday and Sunday were awful and it felt like the worst Gen Con yet. Fortunately, my wife and I wanted evidence to support those feelings, so we crunched the numbers. Despite our impressions, I sold to a similar number of customers each year. Revenues were down, but that was a function of having sold through my The Foundation of Drak-Anor Gen Con Exclusive hardcovers. In other words, what I sold this year was less expensive than the last two years. I actually sold more books this year than last year. My sales were good enough to cover the costs of the table and the inventory I purchased to sell (not the hotel, but that was expected).
Still, most of my sales were to familiar faces. While I do appreciate their support (and am thrilled if one of them has a fanboy/fangirl moment), I’d like to increase my exposure. The statue of Ix I had sculpted was a good table draw. Having a table that faced an actual Dealer Hall aisle (as opposed to one that was fully within Author’s Avenue) helped. My vertical banner was visible from several rows over, so that helped, too. I don’t know if being featured in Nuvo with all the other Gen Con articles did anything for me or not, but I did notice a few Kindle sales (and someone seems to have blasted through the entire book they borrowed through Kindle Unlimited over the weekend).
I think the next step will be to actually become part of the Writer’s Symposium and take part in seminars and workshops. I’m going to have to figure out how to accomplish that for next year.
My decision whether or not to return to Gen Con next year will depend on how Gen Con handles Author’s Avenue next year, and whether or not I am an official part of the Writer’s Symposium. We weren’t able to rebook on site (and weren’t last year, either), so I have to wait and see if any policy changes are made. I have heard grumblings from other authors that are concerning, but these grumbles aren’t accompanied by evidence. One thing that will affect my decision is the fact that the income-to-expense ratio at ConQuesT was more favorable than it was a Gen Con; i.e. I made more money compared to what I spent to exhibit. I’m beginning to think multiple smaller conventions might be more advantageous than one huge con. Gen Con has a logistical advantage though, which cannot be overstated: it’s practically in my back yard.