Here’s my financial report for Gem City Comic Con.
I wanted to keep my expectations low for this show because Lewisburg Comic Con AND Boomfest 2023 were dead shows. Both of them brought in less than $80 each and were not worth the hype. I had never been to Gem City up to this point, but I didn’t want to be disappointed for a third weekend in a row.
Well…I was disappointed for the third weekend in a row.
LET’S DO A COST BREAKDOWN…
We’re going to tackle the costs first before we report on sales.
For Gem City, I booked the table early and paid $78.75 (after fees) for 2 days. If I had filed for a table past the early bird deadline, the cost of the table would have gone up. I do not recall the fee for post-early bird discounts.
This is not the most expensive table I have ever paid for. That honor goes to (so far) Awesome Con 2018 in DC, which was $300 for 3 days. In fairness, Awesome Con brings in 75,000+ attendees. I didn’t know the attendance numbers for Gem City. But $75 for 2 days puts it on par with 3 Rivers Comic Con, a show I did a lot when I lived closer to Pittsburgh. So honestly? I didn’t think the fee for Gem City was absurd at the time.
MILES TO AND FROM THE SHOW…
Coming out of Toledo took 145 miles on day 1, then another 145 on day 2. I crashed on a buddy’s couch for that weekend, so that added 23 miles in each direction. But by doing that, I didn’t have to pay for a hotel, which was a good thing. It’s not the farthest I’ve traveled for a show, but I do prefer a show that’s closer to home.
COST OF PRINTING…
The bad news of Lewisburg Comic Con and Boomfest worked in my favor for Gem City. I had ordered books and pins and keychains before Lewisburg Comic Con. But because that and Boomfest (the weekend after) were basically dead on arrival, I could roll over all of my stock to Gem City and not have to order any extra before the show. So my printing costs came out to $0 in the short term for Gem City.
THAT SAID… I track the cost of printing per unit of my stock in my sales spreadsheet. That way, I know how much to set aside for re-printing. That is going to factor in later in this report.
FOOD AND FUEL…
I only had to fuel up once, which cost $37.44 to do. I packed snacks ahead of time – and shout-out to my table neighbor, Jason, for the iced tea and water he generously gifted! Also shout-out to Stephen Hines, not only for the couch to crash on, but for dinner and ice cream at the end of Day 1. I did, ultimately, end up spending $18.66 for food across both days.
WHAT SALES DID I MAKE?
Keep in mind, these are gross sales. They do NOT factor in costs yet.
On day 1, I did well, selling $237 worth of work! I have definitely sold more at one-day events during 2023, such as Free Comic Book Day ($321.50) and RathaCon ($342), and HerdCon ($283). I was hopeful for Day 2.
But on Day 2, I only made $88 in sales. I’m not sure what happened. A lot of rumors flew around at the show about the organizers not putting in any effort to promote Gem City, or about other events happening the same weekend.
Regardless, after two days, I made $323.
That’s on par with Free Comic Book Day, a one-day event that I didn’t have to travel across the state for. In short, I was ultimately not impressed.
And after costs? Hold on, let’s calculate…
I mentioned earlier that I keep a spreadsheet that tracks the costs of printing versus the retail price of ALL of my stock. So, after retail minus the cost for re-prints, it comes to $197.29.
Now factor in the table fee ($75), food ($18.66), and gas ($37.44), and I made in profit…
I would like to reiterate that I have made more of a profit at one-day shows like RathaCon and Free Comic Book Day. But we’ll get into rant mode later.
THE TOP SELLER(S) (BY UNIT AND BY DOLLAR)…
By dollar – What The Gnomes Know: A Comics Anthology: $60. Followed by The Legend of Jamie Roberts, volume 1, which made $50. Books were still the top-selling category by dollar, at $205. The second-best sales category was keychains at $52.
By unit – Dragon Baby LGBTQ Pride keychains, which sold 4 units for a total of $20. As a category, stickers sold the most units, at 23 units. (Stickers, however, were the bottom-tier category in terms of dollars, at $29.)
You know, I met cool people, and I had great table neighbors. But – I hate to say it, especially since some comics folks I knew talked about Gem City so positively – I was not impressed with Gem City Comic Con. I will not be returning next year.
As a matter of fact, having had three dud conventions and events throughout July, I’m taking a break from conventions for the rest of the year.
The only exceptions I will make are pop-up events in my current hometown of Toledo, OH that last for one day, and Small Press Expo.
Instead, I will take this time to build up new stock, make new merch, and build the business online.
I will also do a financial report for Be Not Apurred Keychains once the orders have been shipped. I will keep you posted as the campaign wraps up.
If you would like to get the first notice when I launch a new item for pre-order, get on the official newsletter. A new graphic novel will be launching in the next week or two, so keep an eye out.
That’s all for now. Thank you for reading!
You. Are. Awesome.