About time I got caught up, hm?
This is a long one, so I'll put everything after the cut.
Given that I left the house at a truly horrible hour to catch a 6 a.m. flight, it came as no surprise that I spent most of the first day of AnimeFest fast asleep. Fortunately I didn't miss anything; my first day is everyone else's Day Zero. Even the other bazaar vendors weren't set up yet (not that we had any tables in the first place). I met Janice and her husband, god love 'em, and crashed shortly thereafter. One thing I've learned is not to try rebelling against my body clock: it bites back.
My sales table was in much the same place as last year — right near the mouth of the convention's arcade, as it were, so I was able to catch the eye of anyone on their way to registration (now upstairs on the same floor).
The first day is always slow, but I still sold a few things: one copy of 4DW, several 4DW sampler booklets, and even a "blem" copy of Summerworld (one of the original, slightly defective press runs with some printing mistakes). I let the blem edition go for cheap — $5 — with the justification that it would be a collector's item someday. (Okay, so maybe it would. A man can dream, right?)
Most everyone I talked to who showed an interest in my stuff was wonderfully enthusiastic. If they wanted to talk about it, they almost inevitably wanted to buy it as well.
(Wonderful Heian-era outfit there!)
I stepped away from the table real fast to run into the dealer's room, but ended up buying almost nothing, thank goodness — just some gap-filling for both Vagabond and Blade of the Immortal, at half price no less. But on the whole, there's very little I want to spend money on right this minute, especially with the Blu-ray reissue machine about to gear up and so many of the books I'd normally buy now being sent to me as review items. The downside of all that, of course, is when you get sent the first few volumes for something and then none of the rest of it, and then you end up shelling out for it anyway. Case in point: Claymore, although that was more than worth the investment.
At one point Janice, her husband and Boots all convened on my table. They had a gift for me (as if last night's pumpkin pie wasn't good enough!): a copy of Yoshitoshi's Thirty-Six Ghosts — something Janice had seen while sightseeing earlier in the year, and which I'd made grabby-hands at the mere mention of. Turns out the three of them had pooled their money and bought it for me.
I damn near cried with joy. I couldn't stop thanking them.
By Sunday morning I'd sold the better part of my inventory. I had at least one visitor who'd been by my table last year, and plenty more who were deeply enthused by the concept of The Four-Day Weekend — I sold at least as many copies of the book itself as I did the sampler, which is probably good news. In the long run, I may simply keep the two or three most recent books at the table (along with the perennial bestsellers) and just have a giveaway catalog that lists everything from previous years. Catalog printing is not cheap, so I may just want to make it a photocopied giveaway — or do it pro-style and make it a giveaway with each purchase.
When you've got a vendor's table, it's inevitable that you'll make good friends with your immediate neighbors (and sometimes the people behind you, too). To my left was Ronni Katz (CDK Art & Design), a ball-jointed doll clothier. She was fascinated with my stuff and I hers, and we wound up chatting about everything from KMFDM to ultra-old-school benshi-style live fan translations of anime. (Now there's something I'd love to see as a panel at a con: an interpreter giving us an on-the-fly translation with a little personal theater thrown in on the top...)
On Sunday I got one of the single best book reviews I've ever had. One of the folks who'd bought Summerworld the day before came up to me and declared, "I was up until three in the morning, reading your wonderful book, and only stopped because I was so tired I couldn't keep my eyes open anymore!" You can't buy publicity like that. She stayed at the table and chatted with me at length about what I was doing and where I was going, and I assured her I'd be back next year with more.
One of the reasons I love con-going is because the bar for quality costuming gets kicked up a notch more every year, and I was in the perfect spot to see many of them walking by.
And yes, Baby Gaara was here, too (he was at Otakon).
I just hope he doesn't get teased about this when he's older.
I also made time for friends of mine: Alysson, Raymond and Tony (L to R, below):
That "lightsaber" (er, blind man's cane) in Raymond's hand is not a prop — he's legally blind, and I served as his seeing-eye human when we went out to eat. Among the less pleasant things that have happened: at one point a year or two ago he was in a parking lot and was abruptly surrounded by evangelicals. They told him that God could make him see again. Raymond was, shall we say, deeply skeptical of this possibility.
I've already got my plans on the table for 2009. And to everyone who made 2008 such a terrific experience — I can't thank you enough.