Month: May 2006

So many things, so little time

Just when you start thinking that things are going to lighten up, the insanity just keeps on keeping on. Things have been really busy this last couple of weeks, and it's starting to look like a busy summer despite my earlier predictions.

The Toronto Comicon went awesome, we got our name out there, and we've been averaging five sales a week since the show. When you combine that with our subscription customers it's just about where I predicted we'd be. We've tried a couple of cool stunts as well such as mailing out free comics on Free Comic Book Day (which cost about $140.00 to do…so much for free!), and I'm about to send out an email on subscriptions.

That's the next big thing I want to tackle, we need more subscriptions. I would like it very much if we had about 10 more people subscribed to get their monthly fix. It was in the business plan to have 20 people subscribed by the end of year one, right now we're at 10, so half way there. We've got 4 months to get those last 10.

Ryan was a godsend when it came to finishing up the store, he worked his butt off, and did a terrific job. The subscriptions tool is wicked, and I love how easy it is to use.

Ryan and I have a ton of stuff on the go for HeadsDown right now. We just finished up the Western Ontario Hockey League, I'm creating a template for a clinical psychologist in Toronto, and we've got two pitches out to a transportation company in London and a total e-store site in Toronto.

We're starting to productize our E-Commerce installs and we want to start selling them to Hobby Stores and small businesses next.

In addition to all of that, we're working behind the scenes on the next version of HeadsDown which will incorporate a ton of new features, and add a lot of little things that are missing.

Oh, and we're helping to raise kids. Yeah, it'll be a busy summer for sure.

Fun times at the Toronto Comicon

Last weekend was the real world debut of All New Comics at the Paradise Comics Toronto Comicon, and it was a big success both financially and in terms of getting our name out there.

On Friday we got to the National Trade Centre around 11am, and started to set up for the 3pm start time. I thought we'd have plenty of time, but it was tight, with us just making it under the wire, and being prepared by about quarter after 3. Friday was light, but we made some significant sales, and I realized we may have needed to stock up on a few things. Sadly, I didn't get to leave the booth really, and pretty much stayed glued to the TPB area where I was giving away ballots and postcards.

Saturday I took the Go Train in, and arrived at about 9:30, not having had my morning coffee. When the doors opened at 10, we were steady, but not incredibly busy. Guests started appearing at our table to look for Peter, who was out on the show floor smoozing and getting people comfortable. Kelvin showed up around 11, and Larry and Jeff arrived with coffees for me shortly after him. Around noon things started to get hectic, and we sold out of Crisis on Infinite Earths hardcover collections, JLA/Avengers hardcover collections, and Watchmen Abosolute Editions (each of which we had brought two copies of).

At 1pm, we were really getting busy, just in time for Pete to go off for lunch with George Perez (I only mention it because I'm jealous). Pete came back with a bunch of signatures for me and a gorgeous sketch of Wonder Woman for himself.

Things slowed down around 4, which was much needed. Charlene and Kaylin came around 5:30, and we wandered the show floor showing off our baby to various folks whom I had chatted her up about. She was a huge hit, and it was nice to finally get to introduce Charlene to Pete. Of course in all of the hub-bub, I forgot to introduce them to Alex, who was busy managing the booth so that Pete and I could take off.

By the end of the day we had also sold out of Astonishing X-Men hardcovers, 100 Bullets volume 9 (because Brian Azzarello was sending people our way), and were almost out of V for Vendettas.

Sunday, despite the City of Toronto's best efforts to screw us (the Gardiner was closed for most of the weekend, the Lakeshore was closed for a couple of hours on Sunday, Yonge street was closed in portions on Sunday, and Bathurst was closed in portions on Saturday), sales were still brisk. This was the day that I decided I was going to wander around and talk to folks. I chatted with Gail Simone and her husband, had a nice conversation with Mark McKenna, and chatted with Ramona Fradon (who is an amazing sketching machine, putting together sketches all weekend long at an incredible speed). I ended up buying a page of Villians United off Dale Eaglesham, and won a Michael Avon Oeming page from Powers in the Actor Charity Auction. Pete got me a sweet Metamorpho sketch that I had been eyeing all weekend at Ramona's booth as well.

One of the most satisfying things was how much the guests enjoyed themselves. V for Vendetta artist David Lloyd dropped by our booth a half dozen or so times, and always had kind words for us, he did a fantastic little sketch in my copy of V, and urged people to go by our booth to pick up his books. Thanks to him we sold an entire case of V trades (20 trades in a case) over the course of the three days. Gail Simone who writes Birds of Prey and Villians United, sent over tons of folks too, and her table had All New Comics postcards and ballots at it all weekend long. All of the ladies who were there for our Women of Comics panels did great things to promote us.

We couldn't have gotten through the weekend without the awesome help of some really great people. Gus the sketch-getting machine was amazing, managing to be both in line-ups with artists for sketches and at our table at the same time by enlisting the help of his mom. That's multi-tasking folks! George the underappreciated wizard of sales who managed to float into all of the right places at the right times. Sure we had a little disagreement over something that I sold which I shouldn't have sold, but we learned from the experience and next year we'll have a better “reserve” system in place. Erin, our “Weapon of Mass Distraction”, who brought coffees on Sunday and kept people coming back to the booth.

Most significantly there was Alex, who was a wizard of sales, keeping an eye on the entire booth, managing things when Pete and I were away, and having a seemingly never-ending amount of energy. I don't remember seeing him get frustrated, annoyed, or even irked about anything all weekend long (the same of which can't be said for me). Dude was a comic booth GOD all weekend long, and when my energy was gone on Sunday, he stepped up and took over amazingly well. Plus, it was his idea to give the ladies a little gift bag with all sorts of convention must-haves in them, that was by far the biggest hit of the show, and got us a ton of good will (which led to bigger sales).

Peter is such a great guy. there were so many people dropping by to see him, and he's well loved by a ton of folks who are in the industry, and that looks great on us as a company. His is one horse I'm pretty happy I hitched up to. We've got very similar goals when it comes to getting new people to check out comics, and we both want to get the same market (people who want to read comics, but who don't think that there's stuff out there “for them”).

Both pageviews and visits have seen nice healthy spikes in traffic since the show, we've generated five first time purchases, and about a dozen new customer sign-ups which are all good signs. On Thursday we're going to send out a follow up Comicon email, and maybe hit a few boards with reviews of the show (our biggest referrals come from board postings we do).