Prepping now for San Diego Comic-Con

29 FEBRUARY 2016

Now that Open Registration furor has cooled, those of you who got a badge for San Diego Comic-Con have probably shifted from disbelief and joy to more practical concerns like...

1) How much money will you need?
2) When will the hotel sale happen?
3) Is there anything special you should start doing now?

So let's go over that.

Think about hotels.

I outlined this previously, but here it is again - Early Bird Sale I expect to happen shortly, followed by Hotel Day. Right now you need to decide whether you want to opt for certainty and economy by doing the Early Bird Sale, or gamble your fate on Hotel Day. More details on that as they get announced.

Tithe your income to SDCC.

Unless you're a member of the Comic-Con 1%, you need to start a special SDCC fund now. Why? Because over the following months you'll see parties, comedy shows and concerts advertised with online ticket sales. You'll try to get into a Nerd HQ panel. You'll want to do an exclusive pre-sale. And when you arrive at the Con, all those vows you made to rein in the spending will go out the window. You'll run into an old friend and go out for drinks somewhere swank, you'll see the rare action figure of your dreams, you'll feel tired and take cabs instead of walking. Save money now.

Sell your nerd stuff now, not later.

For some reason, first-timers often think that SDCC is the best place to sell off their collectibles. It's not. I don't know if it's the worst, but it's not ideal. Other than a few lightning strikes where you and a vendor turn out to be soulmates, most booths are trying to unload as much merchandise as possible. Many operate on a thin profit margin besides and are very nervous about making back their money, as opposed to feeling generous. Collect all those back issues and figures now and sell them however you can - Ebay, OfferUp, your local retailer - and pocket that cash. You'll get to enjoy a newly spacious house before you fill it up again in August.

Plan your marketing game.

Maybe you're just going to network; maybe you're going to participate in Portfolio Review or Comic Creator Connection; maybe you're going to stalk a certain agent and dazzle them with your brilliance. (That last one is not recommended, actually.) Start thinking now about how to put your best commercial foot forward and the materials involved - business cards, a prettier landing page, sample work, a new domain. I know it seems like you have months to get it done but the next 5 months will fly by.

Build up your stamina.

You don't have to be super-buff to get through Comic-Con - but if you're severely out of shape or just not used to walking, you're going to be sore after 1 day. You'll stand in line quite a bit. You'll sit in uncomfortable positions in hallways. You'll walk hither and yon all day and night. Your mind will want to go a Friday night cosplay party, but your feet will beg you to stay in your hotel bed. Be kind to your future self and start walking or biking daily now.

Get to know the SDCC community.

You will always, always, always, find out the most valuable information - which secret concert is happening, how to get a certain autograph ticket - by befriending other attendees. Read the blogs and forums, ask who's going in your other digital communities and fandoms, and get connected. You'll pick up countless tips that will serve you well later.

Start thinking about your costume.

Yes, I said "start." I'm not talking to you cosplay fanatics who pay monthly storage fees to house all your props and costumes and staging. Attendees who are new to cosplay but think they'd like to try it often leave this to the last second. Don't. This isn't like a Halloween party where everyone's costume is terrible and you're all drunk after 2 hours anyhow so who cares. At SDCC, you'll care. You don't have to be professionally polished - but you will want to make sure your cosplay fits comfortably, can hold up while moving in a crowd, won't suffocate you or make you sweat too much and isn't too itchy. Spend time in it, make sure you're not flashing anyone when you move a certain way, and ask your friends for suggestions. That last is really helpful when you're doing conceptual cosplay.

First-timers - be aware that the majority of attendees wear street clothes, not cosplay. There's a general impression that everyone dresses up, but no, it's quite optional.

Overall, you can expect this schedule between now and Comic-Con. Other than the hotel sale, the next two months will be quiet. Around May, you'll begin hearing about events and a few exclusives and releases, and then in June the pace will pick up. By July, monitoring SDCC developments will be a full-time job. Expect your productivity at work to drop and all your unbadged friends to tell you to stop talking about Comic-Con. Your mind will be a circus of all the screenings, parties, panels, tournaments and toys you're anticipating and then finally - you'll be walking through the doors of the convention center.

In other words, enjoy this lull while you have it.

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