Artist Alley Check List: Part 1
Ah yes, it’s a new year and though it’s still freezing outside (for me, literally), you can almost taste the anime con excitement even though the main season is still 4-5 months off. Many cons are launching their registration and home pages now. I have a few that I’m keeping an eye on. I even put them in my calendar so I don’t miss them. With LOTS of alarms to keep me on top of it. Yes, I like attending cons.
I am going into my third year of selling in various artist alleys. AA’s are my best outlet for sales and exposure for my brand. When I first started out, I scoured the internet looking for advice on selling at my own table. Obviously, it’s a constant work in progress, but thought I would compile a list from what I’ve learned online and through personal experience.
Make a List. There are a ton of anime cons out there (at least in my country – the USA) and it can be easy to say ‘I’m gonna do ALL of them!!!!’. Animecons.com has a very good list that is searchable by many different criteria. I went through this site and wrote down the names and dates of the ones that seemed like good choices. I keep this list tacked to my bulletin board by my computer. Things to consider when making this list: smaller ones may be less competitive to get into, but it will be harder to cover expenses, especially if you travel from afar. Don’t discount the small cons, they can be great opportunities to test out your AA strategy, but stay closer to home for those. The further away the con, for me, the bigger it needs to be to increase my chances of covering costs. Sure travel will also increase, but it does expose you to a whole new group of people who may not make it to your hometown. Just make sure to chose wisely and it can pay out in more ways than one.
Keep Up to Date. Most cons have Facebook pages, Tumblrs, Twitters or other social media pages where you can stay on top of the latest news and announcements. If nothing else, they almost always have a forum on their actual site where you can interact and ask questions. I follow most of the cons I’m interested in through FB. I made an interests list called ‘Anime Cons’ and made sure that all cons I like are categorized in that list. This makes it easy for me to get all my news in one area and not miss an announcement in my general FB newsfeed which can get super cluttered. (This is also a great idea for other pages you like on FB. I have other lists for shopping and ‘Kawaii Artists’).
Note the Date Registration Opens. AA’s can be very competitive to get into. While some are actually juried – meaning they grant you acceptance based on your works – many are based on being vigilant and lucky. It’s not uncommon for an AA to launch their AA registration at the top of the hour and sell all 300 tables in 5 minutes. I’m not kidding! So being ready to go and in front of a computer or with a reliable WiFi connection on your mobile device is essential. I actually put the dates in my iPhone calendar with alarms set to remind me the day of. Have all your paperwork ready like permit numbers, registration badge numbers (some cons require you to buy an attendee badge prior to registering for a table and will ask for the number at AA reg). Most of the time, you have a grace period to get in seller’s permit numbers, but I like to take care of as much stuff as I can right then and there. Less to forget about later.
Make sure you are online and ready to go the minute reg opens up. I actually worked it out with my friend for her to come up here instead of me going down there when an AA reg opened up the same weekend we were supposed to hang out. I can’t stress how important it is to get your application in as fast as you can. Fanime last year sold out in about 7 minutes. I heard that SakuraCon for 2013 sold out even faster. It can be a bit stressful, but if you have as much information gathered and at your finger tips as you can, it definitely helps.
Ok, to prevent this from becoming a TL;DR (I suspect that I may have lost some readers already by this point, lol), I am going to break this up into sections. I know I don’t blog that regularly, but I promise, I will be completing this series! I am actually going to start the draft for Part 2 right now, but will just publish it later so as not to scare you off. 🙂