My number 1 question here at ZFCOMICS is “what do the aliens look like under their costumes?”, which I have answered way too many times, but my number 2 most-asked question usually has to do with tabling at comic cons. Where did I get my banners? Or my book rack? Or bookmarks? I have repeatedly pointed people to my article on Webcomic Alliance, where I flush out my secret list of “Convention Resources”, but I figured it was time to share this info here, for any fellow creators who were wondering.
I have used Createspace for all my Z&F collections as well as the kids book series. The color of the kids books is vibrant and pretty decent, and the grayscale (B&W) interior of the Z&F books comes out pretty slick considering it’s only black ink. The key point is the pricing.. I could not find a more reasonable POD service when it came to price per book. The one and only time I had to deal with customer service, my questions were answered and I was very satisfied. I highly recommend Createspace, especially for those who are putting out big comic strip collections.
I tend to go with business cards and bookmarks, but others opt for fliers for the extra space to show off a longform comic or multiple comic strips. Here’s my go-to’s for this type of stuff:
I suggest Vistaprint for their cheap-yet-decent-quality business cards first of all. Always easy to deal with and user-friendly. They often have great sales, like 250 business cards for free, just pay S&H. I also bought my table-front small banners through Vistaprint and the quality is good enough that even duck tape didn’t rip off the ink.
One of my favorite little gems. Don’t even remember why or how I stumbled on Overnight Prints, but I have now ordered through their site enough that I have achieved “Gold VIP” status and get my precious bookmarks even cheaper now. My favorite service they offer is the rounded corners, it just seems to level-up a simple bookmark into a keepsake. Plus, it’s less injury-inflicting that way. I have also used this service for business cards (again, rounded corners add a certain something!), postcards with a color front and a blank back to be used as sketchcards, as well as fliers. (Hint: while they do not list “fliers” on their site as an option, you can just select “brochure” and make sure any folding options are unchecked.) I signed up for their email newsletter and just sit and wait for the sales to roll in before ordering!
IM Photo Graphics was suggested by a friend, so I gave this little company a shot as the prices for a nice quality retractable banner stand were outstanding. And I was indeed VERY happy with the results. And the ease of use of the banner compared to the frustrating VistaPrint stand is priceless. And the printed banner came out slick and beautiful. The owner/printer who actually runs this companycomes to comic cons to pass out postcards and even recognized his own printing work as he walked down my aisle. The website itself leaves something to be desired, but the product itself is good quality, and there are plenty of different options for prices and tiers of quality. My “economy” banners are cheap and sturdy enough to last 2 years of conventions, thus far! VERY happy customer.
As stated above, I used Vistaprint for the small banners on the front of my table. Pretty decent quality & durable, though if I reprint them I may go with a different resource as they printed a mandatory barcode on both of my banners, on the edges.
Like I have said, go vertical. Once you have enough books to showcase, you may want to buy a display rack to organize your collection and entice people to pick one up and flip through. Suggested to me by Brad Guigar of Evil Inc, Displays to Go offered many options at different sizes. I went with a wire rack, but would suggest to measure your suitcase/con trunk/biggest cardboard box in which you carry in all your stuff. My rack just barely doesn’t fit into my con trunk, though I have found bungee cords will secure it to the top of it.
Sometimes a little gimmicky item, like button sets, can lure people to your table for long enough that you can give them your pitch. My buttons and pendants do just that. And sometimes people actually BUY them too. Pure Buttons is a fun easy-to-use site that allowed me to buy some buttons, test them out. While they offer packaging to sell them in packs, I cheaped-out and bought a ton of plastic bags through US Box (enough to last me a lifetime for only $20) and printed my own header cards on my inkjet.
I get the little baggies for my “trinkets”, as well as the clear plastic boxes for the Z&F Figurines, from USBox.com
This is a service I am thinking of using for next year, mainly to get some cool branded items to sweeten a book deal, like “Buy 2 or more books, and receive a free alien stressball– for those times when humans drive you CRAZY!” Or, something similar. I have had many interesting discussions about what type of promo item would prove effective in terms of getting my URL in people’s hands and hopefully close to their computers, where they could discover Z&F online. My bookmarks are neat, but something really unique as a giveaway (if cheap enough) or as a way to bribe a sale, could be even more worthwhile. I debate this exhaustively in a Webcomic Alliance article HERE, if you care to join in the brainstorm session.
The first thing I noticed about Quality Logos Products was that the pricing is all-inclusive. I can’t tlel you how many times I banged my head against the wall when I spent an hour of my time selecting and item, uploading a logo, and starting to place the order before a service decided to MENTION that there was a standard $100 set-up fee for my logo. and oh, yeah, shipping. This service gives you the full price, right up front, no surprises. It’s just SIMPLE. Well, sorta simple, when you consider the 650,000 products they offer. The hard part is CHOOSING, but again… I enjoy the challenge of debating what item would fullfill all these bullets:
- DESIRABILITY: I want people to take home the freebies or want to buy the nick-nacks for $1-3.
- USABILITY: the item should prove itself useful to most people, and work, at least well enough to not be tossed.
- SUITABLE FOR THE DEMOGRAPHIC: we’re talking comic enthusiasts. An imprinted golf ball might not work too well.
- ENDS UP NEAR A COMPUTER: this is tricky, but something to keep in mind since my goal is to get people to my website.
- TIES INTO Z&F: It’s not 100% necessary, but an item that ties into aliens/dogs would be clever and attract my demographic!
- COST EFFECTIVE: no use in spending a ton to give it away for free. I do that enough with my comic itself!
Maybe one of these goofy stressballs from Quality Logos Products would make a good *smirk* IMPRESSION.. whatcha think?