San Japan 2010: The Good, The Bad, the Awsomesauce

San Japan was a blast.  I met many cool people, sold 80% of the books I brought, and tanked at my panel.  But damn…what a great convention!  Grammar and spelling errors abound, I’m still tired.

The Good: The location was perfect this year. In the Marriot Rivercenter on Bowie Street in downtown San Antonio was brilliant.  I drove right off I37 and two blocks in, I was there- right smack dab in the middle of tourist central.  The hotel was attached to a shopping mall, so Saturday gave our booth not just convention attendees – but tourists and mall shoppers.  They couldn’t get into panels, events, or dealers room without registering, so they walked around the Art Alley and looked a little out of place.  I’m not complaining – some of them bought stuff! ^_-

The Bad: My panel.  =_=;  When I walked in, there was a ‘webcomics panel’ in progress, and he covered 80% of what I was going to talk about – then his crowd left and three guys from that remained, and others filtered in – along with 3 girls who actually knew that the panel was aimed at BL creators.  The guys didn’t, until they got the handout.  I always like it when dudes just leave a room in a group. I ended up with 5 people total – and a crushed soul.  Topping it all off, I was being filmed >_< and my heart was no longer into doing the panel.  I was truly crushed; and the moment I opened my mouth I just wanted it to end.  Adding insult to injury, none of them knew me.  One  girl actually had a webcomic currently running, another hadn’t started hers yet, while the girl in front was falling asleep – I just wanted to die.  While my handout was cool, the panel was dismal and I failed big time.  I don’t think I could do that again, so next con I go to – I will stick to YAOI related silliness like Yaoifest events or something, because I don’t like being miserable. 0_0 I didn’t stick around to talk, I was defeated and felt crappy and just wanted to be near my daughter and my friends in Art Alley.

The Awesomesauce: San Japan 03 was wall to wall people, all the time.  It had the intensity of A-Kon, but unlike A-Kon…it had a great staff  and didn’t feel like I was just there to do business.  The fans were just brilliant.  Guests had tables set up right in front of the escalators and elevators – constant contact with con goers, no herding because the hotel had so much space available to the cosplayers that needed to converse.  Water stations were everywhere – and trashcans too.  The security staff was excellent and non-judgmental; one of them took a ‘Games with Me’ postcard and an eManga biz card [because he wanted to read VHD online!]  Sales were so good on Friday that I was running out of stock on Saturday – [ I miscalculated how much stock to bring.]  Sales for Only Words were slow, but everyone knew the title or had read it – which comes with the territory with a book as dates as that one.  ^_-  RUSH was my biggest seller – they sold in pairs, which is normal and most fans were keen on giving feedback about the anthology and seemed excited to hear about returning stories and the new format.

What really rocked was the fact the Loud Snow proof arrived near perfection.  We were able to put it on display with pre-order cards and will be shipping the books out on July 16, 2010.  We were able to score enough pre-orders there that I won’t have to ‘dig into’ the Visa card to pay for the run.  This makes me happy.  While I can’t increase the print, I can limit the amount of debt incurred on financing it.   I learned  that older women and men buy books right away [Friday] – and  kiddos are kept at bay when you turn the table vertical and ask them nicely if they’re over 18.  I had fewer incidents of youthful page turning before ID check then I did when leaving the table horizontal along the alley walk.   Because Loud Snow is 16+, they were allowed to look at that, and the response was positive.

In summary, my sales and experiences with fans more than made up for my lousy panel experience.  I can’t recommend this con enough – I’m definitely going back if I can.

SEMI-GOOD FLICKR UPDATE:  Views of San Japan from my shitastic-bad camera.

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13 Comments

  1. Oh what a hot Spike, even if he may not be much older than my eldest son there…

    If you helped at least one of those girls with your panel, even if it’s not something she considers or remembers until later down the road, then it wasn’t a complete bust.

    Good to hear on sales! You go!!! And fan interaction is the best and really the most enjoyable promo you can ask for.

  2. I was sad at Anne Cain didn’t go – she would’ve made a fortune on her books and art. The Yaoi love was everywhere at this con. He was a hot Spike – there were at least two Wolfwoods and a couple of Spike’s. It was Hetalia overload this year, my daughter was happy. 🙂

  3. Your daughter too, eh? I can’t even discuss world politics with mine anymore without her getting that wicked Hetalia fangirl grin on her face. There were three Hetalia crews at BishieCon. It was so popular, I understand that the organizers are organizing BishieCon #2 around a Hetalia theme!

  4. My daughter is designing new characters ^_^’ The cosplay is great, and the girls have so much fun with it.

  5. San Japan was in my backyard since I live in San Antonio. I would have gone if I didn’t have a strong disdain for large crowds.

    I’m glad that Rush sold well at the convention. Honestly, I thought San Japan would not welcome anything BL, but I was pleasantly surprised by your experience.

  6. When they first started 2 years ago, they didn’t. Mainly due to the hotel they were dealing with. Dave, the con boss – felt very bad about telling me no ‘years ago’ and even apologized to me as I was setting up on Friday. ^_^ The new hotel was more relaxed – and so they allowed certain concessions.

    All in all, it was one of the best organized and receptive cons I’ve ever worked. In terms of sales – I did just a hair better at San Japan 03, then I did back at A-Kon in 2007 [and that was one of my better years] and I had less hassle from staff. If you don’t like crowds – then it is best you stayed away. We had a ton of tourists there, and plenty of mall-rats – on tops of the copious amounts of fans and cosplayers.

  7. Its a good thing that I didn’t go. I really despise big crowds and I saw one of your pics where there was a large line of people, and it looks suffocating! I looked at San Japan website and the list of vendors didn’t capture my interest.

    Other than that, its great that the con boss was polite to you. I keep hearing how con staff tend to be @$$holes. ^_^

  8. The problems we had with the first hotel, including the BL issues, was too much that we didn’t even hold San Japan [1.0] there back in ’07 as we were asked to leave 2 1/2 months. We had to find a new location which we had to push our debut to ’08. It was interesting that we held the inaugural convention in a different Holiday Inn but the management there was far better to work with in putting on the convention compared to the HI Select.

    We grew big enough to move to the Marriott who was wonderful to work with as in all the years, cons & hotels I’ve worked with I’ve never seen any location work so hard to accommodate us. I’m sorry to hear that your panel didn’t go over well but this can be fixed. You can e-mail me in private on what’d you’d like to do for SJ4.

    On the person who wanted to come by when it was quiet, I don’t see that happening. We grew by over 25% for 2010 to 5k+ and its only going to get bigger for our 2011 convention. I would suggest coming by on Sunday afternoon as it only starts to get quiet around 4pm.

  9. Dave,

    You are so accommodating! I truly did have a great experience and I cannot rec San Japan enough to anyone who’ll listen. The staff, the hotel, the ease of setting up, and just having everything in place – was great. San Japan is a primo convention, both behind the scenes and on the surface!

    My panel was more down to me, not you guys. 🙂 You guys are great, and an asset to anyone trying to promote their materials. Since next year I begin editorial duties on RUSH Magazine, perhaps I will shoot you an email about hosting a ‘yaoi’ panel. ^_^

  10. If you can be up past 10pm we can definitely accommodate on a ‘yaoi’ or BL (18+ panel) as we’ll have the programming space. We have the entire convention floor for 2011 for Fri & Sat of our next convention in early August ’11.

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