It’s a link to the annual survey jointly administered and reported on Devastator and Comics Beat: http://devastatorpress.com/exhibitors2015/
I think this is the third year that they’ve been doing this survey. (It’s at least the third year that I’ve been aware of it and I'm too sad and lazy to go confirm its age.) I’ve enjoyed reading the results each time they are published, even if I wonder sometimes about the scope of the survey. (More on that below) This was the first year that I’ve seen the actual survey posted before the results and I hope that if you are an active vendor at comic conventions that you’ll take the time to fill it out. I think the past year’s results could benefit from a wider sampling.
This Ain't A Dig: Just Being Conversational
I don’t know if I’m going to fill it out myself. I didn’t attend any of the shows on their initial checklist, which is heavy on what I’ll term geek culture events and lists only the biggest of small press events. Nothing against those shows, but I rarely attend them, preferring small buy in shows within one day’s driving distance from Columbus. I also do a lot of craft shows, record shows and self-organized events that don’t easily fit into the mold of the shows listed. I didn’t do a single show this year where cosplay was a significant part of the event or where the type of vendor was segregated between artist alley and booths. I guess that's a long way of saying I feel like what I do isn't accounted for in this survey and that I hope they broaden its scope in future iterations.
I also hope that in future years the Devastator/Beat survey will go a little more in depth on the surveys. While it’s interesting to know average gross sales at shows, I think that those numbers are pretty superficial without the added information of median and range. I would also like to see information on expenses like table fees and travel expenses, to get at least a glimmer of what net numbers might be.
Nix Comics Data:
In the spirit of putting my money where my mouth is, here is the kind of reporting I’d like to see with my own personal numbers for Nix Comics:
I’ve done 13 events of various types to date in 2015. My total sales at shows was $2,470.
My average sales were $190 per event, my median sales were $195 per event and the range of gross sales was $5 to $432.
I paid to table at nine events and organized 4 events myself where I didn’t pay a table fee. For the tables I did pay for, the average price was $84, the median price $55 and the range is $20 to $264.
Yeah, but were they "good" shows?
I only failed to make my table money back at one show. It was actually one of the smallest buy-ins at $20.
My general benchmark for success is if I make table money and a half at a show, it more or less ends up being the same as a wholesale order. (i.e. if I pay $50 for a table, I want to make $75 to call the show a success.) That of course depends on what actually sells, but as a rule of thumb it has seldom been wrong.
Of the nine shows where I paid table fees, I only failed to meet that benchmark twice, including the one show mentioned above.
Of the applicable shows, I hit the x1.5 benchmark more or less on the nose twice. The remaining shows I did at least double the table fee. For my best show I did nearly eight times the table fee.
What Aren't I Accounting for?
These numbers don’t include expenses like travel, hotel and food. In my case, I don’t feel like those numbers are very significant. I only stayed at one hotel on those trips, sharing a room. I split gas when sharing a ride. I tend to eat out on weekends in general, but perhaps spend a little more when on the road.