I’m a bit behind the times: Heidi MacDonald just tipped me off that The Beat and Devastator released their 2014 comic convention data. They and I are trying to do something similar: collect data from the indie comics scene so we can paint a better picture of how the small press industry is working. They’ve focuses on conventions and festivals specifically. It looks like their audience is more mainstream/geek culture than my tastes (and according to their data, that’s where the money is). Still, they profile some top small press festivals, and this information is super valuable.
I’ve read their zine, and here’s my takeaway.
1. Shit: I’m not making any money, am I? Their per-show sales average is $1000. I’d kill for those sales.
But, when I take a closer look, I see the top selling shows are ones I hadn’t considered exhibiting at: San Diego Comic-Con, Denver Comics Con, and New York Comic Con. Is is time to reconsider exhibiting at mainstream shows? I used to do that, about a decade ago. I got the sense that my work isn’t interesting to that market. Maybe I’m wrong?
When I look at the per-show average for indie shows like TCAF, MoCCA, and SPX, my sales are in the ballpark (but still, a little low).
2. Of the small press/indie shows that ranked high in terms of sales and exhibitor satisfaction, TCAF and APE were right at the top. I haven’t been to APE in years. I’d written it off as a financial loss years ago, as a lot of my peers on the east coast did. But it looks like it’s time to revisit this show.
3. What I assumed is true: MoCCA is a show where exhibitors are lucky to cover the $460 table fee (one of the highest table fees in this country for a show of that kind). I keep waiting for MoCCA to address this, but at this point I’m doubtful that the table fee will ever come down. I’m resentful. A lot of creators are resentful. At least, The Society of Illustrators puts on a great show. But how much longer can I throw away almost $500 to spend a weekend at a great show?
You can read The Beat and Devastator’s zine for free (but you should donate a buck or two). I don’t know a lot about this project, but I’m guessing Devastator wrote the zine while The Beat helped promote it. Devestator is an independent publisher of humor anthologies and books run by Geoffrey Golden and Amanda Meadows. I can’t tell if they’d fit my definition of a micro-publishers, but they’re in the neighborhood.