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  • Writer's pictureCeara

Oh, Canada!

“You are not going to believe this!” is something you usually hear, right before someone tells you an outrageous story. Well, I’m telling you the same thing, but every word of my experience is true and I have pictures to prove it!

I’m not going to bore you with the minute details of our Canadian adventure. And by “our” I mean my husband and I. Although, before I get into the awesomeness of the Niagara Falls Comic Con, I want to give a huge shout-out to my husband, Jeffrey. He generally comes with me to every event and his help is truly amazing! He goes around taking pictures, mans the table when I need a break, and he’s so good at talking to people about my books and gaining their interest! I don’t know what I’d do without his help, especially at this specific comic con!

Our journey to Niagara dragged for quite some time, mostly because we had to take a quick stop along the way for a few hours rest. And although we were completely exhausted, we picked up our travels again at 3:30 am on Friday morning. By the time we arrived at the border, the border patrol agent quickly let us in. I was really concerned at first that there’d be some delay as I wasn’t coming in as a vacationer but a businesswoman. To my relief, the agent simply said that I wasn’t carrying enough product to really worry about. We didn’t expect that kind of response. Then again, we weren’t exactly sure what to expect.

As we drove into Ontario, everything went from feet and miles to meters and kilometers. But that wasn’t the only thing that was noticeably different. The people were too. And not in a bad way either, all throughout the comic con and even people we came across at restaurants and stores were all very pleasant! Now, I didn’t expect anyone to be rude, but I also didn’t expect everyone to be so friendly! Our first stop was at a really cool diner. It was all very sci-fi! It even looked like a flying saucer! I couldn’t help but wish we had cool diners like that where I live.

When we finally arrived at the convention center, we quickly unloaded our car and set up within a few minutes. (This is per usual for us, we carry just enough for each event as we have a relatively small car). But this gave us time to look around at the other vendors and boy, there were a lot! Not going to lie, I’m pretty sure I got lost a few times just trying to make my way back to my table! But while I was going from vendor to vendor, I noticed something rather interesting…I wasn’t just the only sci-fi/fantasy author. I was the only American vendor! At least, that’s what it appeared to be.

Once the comic con went underway, the buzz and excitement picked up rather quickly. I became pretty good friends with the vendors in my immediate areas. The people next to me were from the International Paintball Group and they were a fun group to talk to. Each day new people came to that table and they were from different areas of the world: Australia, Wales, England, and Canada. The people directly across from us sold lots of toys and mystery boxes. They were also really enjoyable to talk to. Between these two vendors, they really made my experience as a vendor memorable and I actually learned a lot from them. No, they weren’t selling anything like what I was selling, but some of their tactics on getting people to come to their table were pretty interesting!

Friday also was the day that was full of surprises! At one point, two Daleks came strolling by (for those of you who don’t know what that is, they’re villains from Doctor Who). And amidst their arguing, they actually stopped by my table and began “interrogating me”! They seemed rather interested in my latest book after telling them that there are alien-like creatures that try to take over humanity. They then proceeded to argue with each other and strolled on by claiming they’d be back for the book! Whether they actually came back or not is a mystery to me… *rechecks book inventory*

Speaking of book inventory, I didn’t sell a whole lot on Friday, mostly because there wasn’t a bunch of people. However, a vendor came by and actually purchased a copy of one of my earlier books! She was such a sweetheart! She loved my energy and said she was going to tell everyone that came to her table about me. That wasn’t a lie. Not too long after she left, another vendor she knew came by and bought, “Memories of Chronosalis”! It was awesome to see the support!

And to top off my first day at the con, I got to meet two celebrities that I’ve been wanting to meet for a while. William Zabka and Martin Kove from the original Karate Kid and the new Cobra Kai series. Now, I grew up with the Karate Kid and honestly, I’m surprised I don’t have the movies memorized by now. So, I guess you can say I’m a huge fan. 😊 Talking to William Zabka was really awesome, I even told him that I was a vendor at the comic con and was a sci-fi/fantasy author. He said he’d stop by my table and you know what? He almost did! Time just wasn’t on his side, unfortunately, but hey he almost did! That totally counts for something. And, Jeffrey was able to give him my card. Mr. Zabka wished me the best of luck on my writing which was totally awesome! Meeting Martin Kove was really cool too, I actually struck up a conversation with him about his character in the films. From a writer’s point of view, this was valuable information and he actually helped me understand a character I’m currently working on! After our conversation, I got an autographed picture from him too! And, of course, that picture is now hanging in a frame on my library wall. Hey! Don’t judge, meeting those two men was a huge encouragement to me and that autograph is a reminder of how amazing my time in Canada was! If they ever happen to come across this blog post, thank you so much!

“And this is only Friday? What else could have happened?” Haha! Glad you asked!

Saturday contained its own surprises. It actually began in the morning before doors opened. That one vendor who purchased, “Memories of Chronosalis” the night before came to me and told me he didn’t want to stop reading the book! Boy was that a huge encouragement boost! It certainly paved the way for a great day. Soon hundreds of people began piling into the convention center. In fact, people continued entering the building even at 1:30 pm and the event began at 10:00 am! I couldn’t believe the crowd! The floor in front of my table quickly became non-existent as people continued passing by. I was so glad I was behind my table!

Another woman came to my table and purchased a copy of one of my original books. She was so excited to buy a book that she asked to get a picture with me! Right then, Carrie became my first Canadian fan! I was so happy! No one had ever asked for a picture with me before! And not too long after her, came another woman who said she came to the comic con looking for sci-fi books to add to her collection! How awesome is that?

Although Saturday was a super long day, Jeffrey and I were fortunate to have some time to ourselves after the event that day. We spent three hours at the falls! We watched as the sunset and the lights on the falls turned on. It was really awesome to see! We even stayed long enough to see the fireworks. During this time, we also got the chance to talk to two couples from New Jersey who were excited to meet a sci-fi/fantasy author!

Finally, Sunday came, the last day of the event. I thought the last day would have fewer people, but man was I wrong! One of the first people I met was another vendor. He happened to be a parapsychologist! We struck up a really cool conversation. Shortly after he left, one of the vendors across the way hurried over to me and purchased a copy of, “Memories of Chronosalis”! All of this took place before the event even took place! Shortly before crowds of people began swarming around me, I quickly hurried over to see Doug Jones! It was so amazing to see him again and he even remembered me! It’s always great to get his hugs! 😊

Probably around noon, I met a Canadian school teacher who was really interested in getting my books at some time for his middle schoolers! I also sold an audiobook CD to a girl who is going to promote the book on her gaming channel! I was so excited to hear that. And within the last fifteen minutes of the event, two other vendors came up to me and purchased, “Memories of Chronosalis” too! I’ve never had two people purchase books at the same time before!

After the event, every single vendor was rushing to put their things away and leave. Fortunately for us, it took only two trips and we were able to leave with ease. Even getting back into America was a breeze!

So, now you’re probably wondering, “Well, how many books did you sell?” I’m happy to report that I sold sixteen books, ten of which were, “Memories of Chronosalis”!

For those of you who have been following along on my Canadian journey, know that I’ve been preparing for this since December 2018. It’s taken time, lots of money, and countless nights of sheer exhaustion. And I’m here to tell you that it was all worth every second! And although the book sales I made were amazing, I’d have to say the people I met and the connections I made, were worth more than any number of book sales! I hope to meet those vendors again and maybe even the people that stopped by my table!

Now, this is for my writer/author friends. The lessons I learned from this trip are without a doubt invaluable. And I’d like to share with you some tips in case you’d like to venture out of the country with your own art!

• Do it by the book. I consulted with a broker who was assigned to the comic con and he helped me fill out paperwork to give to the border patrol agent. Now, again, I didn’t have enough to worry about, but I still did what I was supposed to do because I consider myself a business and I wanted to do things right. He really appreciated it. Also doing things by the book makes you less paranoid (if you’re like me that is 😉)

• Plan ahead. Read the fine print on the comic con instructions. If the event setup is the day before, get there the day before. I made the mistake of only getting there the day of the event and my manager had to quickly book us a hotel Thursday night. We didn’t get a lot of sleep, big mistake. Fortunately, we still managed to make it through the day Friday.

• Have enough change. When going to Canada, you’ll have to get some Canadian currency, you’ll only get bills so make sure you go to a small pharmacy shop of sorts and get someone and two dollar coins as that’s the only form you’ll get in Canada.

• Know the exchange rate! This is a big one. If you’re close to the border, you’ll want to offer American and Canadian payment. If I hadn’t done that, I would have lost three sales.

• Don’t rely on the Square. Sadly, if you’re from the U.S. the Square won’t work in Canada. The Square explicitly states on their “terms of use” that the Square will not work in a country that it wasn’t set up in. Frustrating, I know, but they haven’t evolved yet. Maybe one day! 😊

• Friday Blues. Didn’t get a lot of sales on Friday? Don’t sweat it. I see Friday as for people who seem to already know what they’re looking for. In fact, many vendors I spoke to said they got few sales.

• Sunday Craze. Many people wait till the last second to purchase something, these people are generally vendors or con-goers who have the weekend pass.

• Placement, placement, placement! As a vendor, you won’t get a say in where you are placed, so use that to your advantage. Say you have a huge vendor in front of you that gets loads of customers. Sometimes those customers will be waiting in line and will be backed into your table. Catch those people, I mean, after all, they are waiting so why not purchase something? This applies to any comic con.

• Cosplayers. There are general rules during comic cons about photos being taken. Every comic con will be a bit different. But the general consensus is to ask the individual for permission and tell them where the photo will be shown (i.e. fan page or website). This can be used to your advantage as a vendor. Most, if not all, of the cosplayers will want to see their picture and tag themselves in it. So, give them your card! Perfect way to advertise and promote yourself even if the cosplayer doesn’t purchase a book.

• Know your venue. This is probably the number one rule, if you forget everything else above, remember this. Know the comic con. Memorize everything on the website and have copies on top of copies of important information the event coordinator sends you. Not that you’ll come across people who’ll give you a hard time, but keep things on you so you’ll know the exact rules of everything because every event, whether in America or in another country, will be different. It’s always good to have yourself covered.

• Location, location, location! Another big one, if you aren’t familiar with the area, make sure you have that pretty much memorized when you’re booking a hotel. I made this mistake and booked a hotel an hour away from the location and had no idea. I canceled it just in time and had to book a motel that was a few minutes from the venue. Well, it was a place to sleep. I definitely wouldn’t go back again. So save yourself the trouble and triple check the entire area!

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