I should write this post at the start of a con season I suppose, but I never think of it until late. If you are going to be at a con, working a table, holding down a table, I’ve found there are some things you should think about. It’s not all slinging books and art. There’s prep involved. And after years I’ve come up with my own set of stuff (each item will have a link to it):
Plastic Bags – Now, some people might prefer paper bags but the plastic is easier to use for a bunch of different sizes and has handles and what not. The paper ones I linked above, you want to double-check the size of. But anyway. Bags! The important thing is to have bags. And to get enough bags that you can give them to anyone who seems to need one. Regardless of them buying something at your table. If you see someone with an armload of crap and you have a stack of bags – you offer them a bag. Help out. It’s the right thing to do. Bags are important, and not enough people bring them.
Book stands! Now I like these three fold wire stands. The fold up nice for travel and can hold a surprisingly large book. They’re great for art, or tomes or all sorts. Yeah, you can often manage to stand your books up but a nice book stand ensures it will stay and presents it well. Spend the few bucks and get a stand or six.
A money bag or fanny pack. Don’t keep your money in a loose envelope. Many people swear by the fanny pack since it attaches to you. That is a nice bit of security. I often like the separate money bag because it holds so much more. Whichever one works for you, make sure you have one. You want a place your money goes – always. Makes it easier to keep track of and to remember what you’re doing. If you do a ton of transactions you might even want to go for a cash box.
You also want a bunch of pens – signing pens and normal pens to write things down. Always bring twice the pens you think you’ll need. As well as a sales book. I like a cheap, small Moleskine, but anything on earth will do. Keep track of sales and note when you sell something at a discount and so on. That way you can do your bank each night and tally and be right.
Also remember to go to the bank and get a bunch of small bills so you can make change. If you want to take cards I suggest Square over Paypal
‘s dongle, but whatever works for you. Remember most conventions have shitty wifi if they even offer it so something with 3/4G would be better. And then remember that the larger cons flood the cell towers so 3/4G won’t work either and plan accordingly.
Also bring a few small bottles of water. Hydration is important. Some granola bars, too, wouldn’t hurt.
But yes – that’s my general list of things to deal with and make sure I have with me at most cons, if I plan on working a table. I’m sure most of you have different lists. Share ideas below, if you would! We can all benefit from new ideas.