Authors: How to pack for a con

As I said last week, I started a series on working a conventions originally published on my 48Fourteen blog. I hope these are helpful for my author pals and aspiring authors.  Part 1 was all about the mental prep. Part 2 is about Physical Prep/Packing for a Weekend Convention

I pack specifically for the convention. If it is a science fiction convention, I might grab a few more Other Systems. If it’s a comic con I’ll grab more artwork. I also always consider attendance.

Finally: I set aside one book to get beat up for the season. Otherwise too many books get beat up. On the comics, I actually mark it “Display” with the novels, its easy just to stick it in the easel.

(Attendance less than 10,000)

  • 15 Other Systems +display copy
  • 6-10 The Light Side of the Moon +display copy
  • 10 sets of Out For Souls and Cookies (Bagged and Boarded) + loose display copies
  • 5 Additional Copies of Out for Souls and Cookies #1
  • 7-10 Copes of Lure +display copy
  • 3 Sets of Faminelands +display copy
  • 2-5 Copies of 25 or so different prints (Bagged and Boarded)

(Attendance 10,000 – 50,000)

  • 20 Other Systems
  • 10 The Light Side of the Moon
  • 20 sets of Out For Souls and Cookies (Bagged and Boarded)
  • 5 Additional Copies of Out for Souls and Cookies #1
  • 10 Copes of Lure
  • 5 Sets of Faminelands
  • 5 Copies of 25 or so different prints (Bagged and Boarded)

(Attendance 50,000+ ECCC/Comicon)

  • 35 Other Systems
  • 20 The Light Side of the Moon
  • 25 sets of Out For Souls and Cookies (Bagged and Boarded)
  • 5 Additional Copies of Out for Souls and Cookies #1
  • 10 Copes of Lure
  • 5 Sets of Faminelands
  • 5 Copies of 25 or so different prints (Bagged and Boarded)

Why don’t I bring more?

Because the more I drag around, the more likely it is to get damaged. Besides, the most I have ever sold of a single item at a conventions was 35 copies of Faminelands: The Carp’s Eye. That was at its release at ECCC 2008. Once I had more products, each product sells less.

Also books are heavy. Airplanes only let you take so much luggage. Shipping is expensive. Gas is expensive.


I have one standing banner, one front of table banner and several two-sided 4×6 price signs made.

lable Here is an example of my two sided place cards which I put in two-sided 4×6 photo frame that I got for $1 at IKEA. Back has the basic pitch for Booth Helpers. Front has price, show special, audience and gives people an idea what’s the book about.

Marketing Giveaways:
Excerpts, Bookmarks, Buttons, Etc.

Display Stands:
I set out everything in display stands before I leave so I can see how it looks.

Sales Sheet, Cash Box and Credit Card Reader:
I personally like to have $100 to open. 10 Five’s 50 One’s.

Tablecloths and cover cloth:
I use Queen Size Flat Bed sheets. They come in a wide variety of colors and wash well. At the end of the day, bring another sheet to cover inventory.

Personal Emergency Kit:
Band-Aids and Neosporin, Wet wipes, tissues, hand sanitizer, Sanitary napkins, chapstick, nail glue, Zyrtec, Aspirin, and Tylenol, Dayquil, Elastic bands, Comb

Office Supplies:
Pens for signing books, Blue Painter’s tape, Scotch Tape, Large Binder Clips, 3 x 5 cards, 1″ price lables

Foam Mat/Tiles:
Convention Centers aren’t known for their thick padded carpets.

1 liter of water per day
A coffee beverage with 2 shots of espresso
Bag of apple slices and or baby carrots/celery for snacks
Bagel with cream cheese for breakfast
Sandwich with meat for lunch

I don’t leave my table for meals. I eat right there, grabbing bites when I can.

Final note on Clothing: I wear my good jeans, a loose-fitting peasant blouse type top. Basically, my goal is to look casually business-like. I also bring a light sweater or hoodie, because the environment is constantly shifting from hot and cold as doors open, groups of people move around etc.

On my feet: I wear hiking socks and comfortable MaryJane-style shoes. I personally like Clarks, but have also heard good things about Keens. If my knees start getting really sore, I switch to TEVAs for a little while. Yes, that does mean I am wearing sandals with socks, but no one can see my feet behind the table.

Did I miss anything? Is there anything other authors like to have at conventions? Share in the comments!

3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Joe Follansbee on December 8, 2015 at 2:08 pm

    You’ve got this down to a science!


  2. […] a convention that I blogged about on my ZB Publications Blog: This is a list of every item I bring.… And this post is all about the importance of checklists so I don’t forget to do anything […]


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