This is a modified excerpt from a book I’m working on called The Business of Independent Comic Book Publishing. It is the third of a four part series on how independent publishers can make the most of comic book conventions as a lead into my appearance at New York Comic Con next month. As always, this isn’t the final word. Comments and insights are welcome.
Whether you get a table or not (See Should You Get a Table for Your Independent Comic?), you need to understand how much of your investment you’re likely to spend to attend a con. In many cases, you might want to reduce or eliminate certain costs in an attempt to save money. Even though you can make money at the con and the costs can be tax deductible, you still don’t want to spend money like Bruce Wayne.
How Can You Determine Convention Expenses?
Building a Convention Spreadsheet: All the costs for attending a con can be listed on a simple spreadsheet. Adding up all the different costs will give you a rough idea of your overall convention costs and compare the costs of attending different cons. Keep in mind that some prices will have a range and not a fixed number based on the city you’re going to and the available options. In those cases, it’s safer to assume the higher cost and be pleasantly surprised by a lower cost than to hope for a low price and get hit with a higher bill. Also, some costs will cover all the people from your team attending the show. Other costs will be per person in your group. I’ve created a sample budget on the next page. Feel free to tailor it for your own purposes.
Convention Item: is the access, good or service you need to attend the show
Cost: is the amount of your investment you are spending
Payment Due Date: keeps track of payment deadlines and will help you control your cash flow and know when you’ll have cash walking out the door.
Name of Convention:
Dates of Convention:
Convention Item Cost Payment Due Date
Convention Badges (per person, per day)
Table, Booth or Exhibition Fees
Transportation to Convention City
Transportation in Convention City
Printing or Manufacturing Inventory
Shipping Inventory to Convention
Shipping Inventory from Convention
Signage for Table
Electricity for Table
Wi-Fi for Table
Merchandise and Research Purchases
How Can You Reduce Convention Attendance Costs?
Attending any convention requires money, but there are several ways an independent publisher can reduce costs:
Going Mobile: For the reasons we listed above, going to the con and not getting a table eliminates exhibition fees, printing and shipping costs, signage, electricity, Wi-Fi, labor costs and taxes. There are downsides to not getting a table, but the money saved could be worth it depending on your circumstances.
Staying Local: If you attend shows close to where you or members of your team live, then you can eliminate the costs of travel to the convention and hotel accommodations and possibly reduce the costs of meals and Barcon because you can take advantage of native knowledge of the local cuisine.
Friends and Family: If you attend shows close to where someone close to you lives, then you can eliminate the costs of hotel accommodations. Just be sure to not overstay your welcome, because this is essentially a gift investment that you have to pay back later.
Team Participation: If multiple members of the publishing team can attend the con, you can save on labor costs. Whoever is in charge of marketing should attend the shows whenever possible, but it’s a good idea to include convention participation as an element of both collaboration and work-for-hire contracts.
Convention Partnerships: If you share convention expenses with other comic creators, independent publishers, or local comic shops, you can reduce the costs each partner pays. The concerns here are choosing partners that you’re comfortable with and making sure there is a written agreement between each partner covering the financial terms of the partnership. You don’t want to work under the assumption that you’re going to split the costs for a show and then find out your getting stuck paying for everything.
Now that you’ve decided how much you can spend on the con, we’ll focus on things you can do before during and after the show to make the most of the experience for your book.
Have fun with your comic.
If you have questions about the business or legal aspects of your comic book publishing and you'd like a free consultation, please contact me and we can set something up that fits in with your schedule.
PLEASE NOTE: THIS BLOG POST IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR LEGAL ADVICE. IF YOU HAVE AN ISSUE WITH YOUR COMIC PROPERTY, DISCUSS IT WITH A QUALIFIED CONTRACT ATTORNEY OR CONTACT C3 FOR A FREE CONSULTATION
* The ritual of Barcon will be explained in the next post.