With my first major show of the year coming up (Planet Comicon), I thought I would share a few tips I’ve learned with my fellow writers (aspiring or otherwise). Even if you are not a writer, you might find this useful.
When doing a show, don’t forget your mats! I have had a sit down job for a number of years and standing in one small area for 10 hours straight can leave me a bit worn out. Believe me, standing is worse than walking (or hiking 18 miles with a heavy pack).
At my first big show, I stood on the hard concrete the whole time and by the end of the three days, I was miserable. I went out right after that show and bought some relatively inexpensive floor mats ($25). I am not specifically endorsing Dick’s Sporting Goods, but the image above is exactly what I purchased. They are four 2′ x 2′ squares and you can configure them to cover a different amount of area depending on what space you have behind the table. While only 1/2″ thick, they do not weigh a lot or take up a great deal of room when you are bringing your things onto the floor. (For actual exercise mats, I bought a 3/4″ thick version.)
I’ve used the set for a while now and it has held up even on asphalt and rough ground. Most of the time, I configure it to cover 2′ x 6′ (or 2′ x 8′ for larger tables). However, I will likely buy another set of four so I can cover 4′ of depth both behind and under the table. While I will advocate standing most of the time, when you are actually signing a book (or taking a break) being able to scoot the chair easily under the table, and not off a drop, is nice.
A word about standing. You might ask: Why should I stand the whole time? They give me chairs for a reason.
Well, my response is that when you are standing, you will appear more approachable and engaging. It helps to be able to converse with people eye to eye and standing facilitates that. In watching other tables, and from my own experiences, tables where the person stood had more people stop than those where the person sat the whole time. And to be able to sustain standing for 3 or 4 days straight, I really recommend the mats.