I got a nice email today, with some good questions about tabling.
I am posting my response here in case it can help others.
the above picture has nothing to do with anything.
I hope I didn't come off too negative on my post. I am going to be tabling at APE, and look forward to meet you. I wish I had my booth number already, but I am sure we will see each other.
San Jose does not have the same audience for independent comics or art for that matter as SF, at least not yet. So that was the major problem I saw with last year's APE, the lack of foot traffic or attendance.
There was great artists there, but just not enough patrons. I know Dan, the guy from SLG who runs APE now only had less than a year to plan. So that's why I don't hold anything against him. But I think it will be at least a few years before APE grows the reputation enough to draw a big crowd.
As for content, a vendor should definitely know their audience, if its a superhero crowd, have superhero product. I at this time am not concerned with that. I just make things I like, and that I would be interested in buying. But as advice, I would recommend researching any con you are interested in tabling at.
I definitely think being as out-going and friendly as possible is the best approach. As long as it doesn't seem fake or aggressive, just let people browse your wares and have fun.
Technical skill does play a factor, but only to which audience you are appealing to. Some audiences or genres tend to prefer slicker more produced styles, while others prefer more raw or emotional. I would not worry about technical skill too much, it just comes with practice and study.
Page count, size, look and price point all do matter. The actual artifact of the comic is important to people, they want to see care put into the product. They are less likely to pay for something they can make themselves, or that seems to be thrown together.
Pricing is crucial. You don't want to scare off a reader with a too high of a price, but you also have to value your own time. The only advice would be to look at what you might pay for a similar book, and don't be afraid to lower your price or make a deal with a reader. With a personal comic the idea is to have someone read it, not to just make money. It's better to have a fan who is more willingly to read your next book then a quick sale. And that is why I wouldn't put a price on the actual book, leaving it off gives you more flexibility. You can always put a little cut out paper with the price on the display.I personally, also don't put the date on the front cover.
The look of your table is important as well. It has to look both inviting and professional. Vertical displays do help, as I was told, "you want levels". The idea being that you a staggered table top is more interesting to the eye than a flat top.
I personally print very small runs, always less than 100, usually about 25. and then take about half to cons. If you live close to the con, just take a little and bring more as you need them the next day.
Don't let jaded cartoonists like myself discourage you, we do it because we love it. and so will you.
Thanks for the email.