Tuesday, October 23, 2007

convention bust

Some of our friends know we went to a horror convention last weekend - ScreamFest in Orlando. The convention itself was Great. Just the sort of thing I wish I could've gone to as a kid (though I didn't start loving horror movies until 1990 when I saw Tom Savini's Night of the Living Dead remake, when I was 19). LOTS of vendors, celebrities, and films, both indie and mainstream.

But as a seller, it was a miserable failure and I was bored out of my mind. First off, I think it's a mistake (from a seller's viewpoint) to have all vendors in one room and all celebrities down the hall in another room. The line for having stuff signed by Freddie (Robert Englund) was constantly long. Ditto, I think, for Shawnee Smith, star of Saw. And Kane Hodder of Jason fame. Mix everyone together in various rooms. Part of me would've liked to have gotten a few autographs of the supporting stars of Friday the 13th Part 3 (my favorite of the series, along with Jason X) and composer Henry Manfredini (who looked as bored as I the 2 times I passed his table). So why didn't I? Well, I didn't want to be away from the table long. Also I'm still a bit shy about approaching people I admire. It's different sitting Behind the table. I'll greet anyone that way. In fact, 2 celebs walked around the dealer room - the First zombie from Night of the Living Dead '68. I saw him once in Monster Bash - still wearing that same ol' ripped suit he must've been buried in. And Tom Savini took a tour around the table, but he ignored our table, so I didn't get a chance to remind him we met at Monster Bash where I gave him a Paul Frees book and found out that he's writing a book. I wanted to ask how it was coming along. Oh well.

Which brings up one thing I was reminded of. I've been to several conventions in the last few years. But I forgot that most people - and I mean 95% of those walking around dealer rooms - ignore books. Books don't sell, not in comparison to DVDs, which are magic. DVDs are media and we're in a media age; plus they are cheaper to produce (and ship) than books, therefore have cheaper pricetags for the consumer. But even if they were always $20 ea., movies will still sell better than books, generally. A book is a long investment in time - a film is McDonald's, a book is an expensive French restaurant. I'm trying to get more "pizzas" on our menu, but even the Bionic Book - a pizza or McD's $1 hamburger if ever I saw one - didn't do well at this show. We sold one copy.

We sold 2 copies of Paul Frees, 1 Incorrect Entertainment (a surprise, frankly), 1 Barbara Payton, 1 Writings of Paul Frees, 1 Charlie's Angels - that's about it, I think. Terrible, huh? Well, I'm not really Complaining. We probably should've driven the Long distance to Newark, NJ to go to the Good radio convention that same weekend, but it Is a long drive. Luckily, our champion, Martin Grams Jr. was on hand to sell a good # of our titles anyway.

I won't complain because it's like complaining about the weather or the past - what's the point? I learned a bit more about human nature, and learned that if we go to future "chancey"-type cons, we'll do it mostly as promo. Rather than load up the car with 12 boxes of books (another good reason to sell DVDs instead!), we'll take 2 or 3 boxes of various titles and mostly postcards and promo material. We gave out about 20 catalogs this time, so that's good.

Luckily the scenery was interesting at this con. There was a costume contest and most of the young people seemed to be there for that, or getting autographs, or just the party atmosphere. Even other dealers said sales were poor, so people weren't there to buy, they went to look. And there were some great things to look at. As you can tell, the kid at the adjoining table is a great horror fan - his favorite flick is Critters, he said.

I got a Friday the 13th Part 3-D t-shirt from the vendor behind us. Traded a Silver Spoons book for 2 bootleg DVDs (all the Peanuts specials, and Speed Buggy, for my Mel Blanc book). I bought a super Shawn of the Dead poster (the one where he's trapped in the subway) for $8. I took a look around the room a couple times, and I really admire the spirit of indie filmmakers. You know it's REally hard on them - even more than a publisher like me, I'm sure - because they have no name recognition in the stars or crew, pushing completely new titles. But they believe in what they're doing - they have dreams and ambition, and I Love seeing that. I wish I could figure out a way of us all helping out each other.

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