For many indie authors, conventions are our lifeblood. Without selling our books at local comicons and other such events, we wouldn't be making enough money to keep producing books.
As an author and huge fan of conventions, I've been to tons of them. Some massive, some tiny, some new, some established, and everything in between. I've pretty much seen it all.
But one thing has been a constant of many conventions, especially the smaller ones, which makes little sense:
TOO MUCH PROGRAMMING
What do I mean? Too many panels, too many discussions, too many contests, movie screenings, gaming hours, celebrity meet & greets, etc.
But Stu, isn't that why many fans go to conventions? Why of course it is. The programming brings in fans from around the country. Especially the celebrity stuff.
So why limit it? Well, we don't need to cut it back much. But here are some of the complaints I've made and heard over the years of attending conventions:
- Panels with large interest overlapping (common concern at big conventions)
- Panels drawing 0 audience members because other panels take it all at the same time
- People waiting in line for hours to get an autograph and missing programming
- Vendors complaining about people always being consumed by programming and not making it to the vendor hall. This is a huge complaint.
A few conventions I have attended have also had poor floor plans. Hosting all of the panels / contests, etc in a room adjacent to the vendor hall means many people never even see the vendor hall. That's an issue.
How do we fix it? I have an idea I've tossed around to a few vendors and organizers over the years: make a vendor hour an event in the programming.
Make from 7pm - 8pm (or whenever, just not in the morning) a vendor hall hour. No programming, no contests, no dances (yes, some conventions have dances), no celebrity sessions, no screenings, nothing but vendor hall time for an hour.
Vendors could offer promotions during that time, sales, free stuff with purchases, all that jazz. It gets people to enter the vendor hall, probably spend some money, and see things they might not otherwise see if their day is full of programming. It also lets people grab some dinner (depending on timing) which is never a bad thing.
Just some food for thought.