As many of you probably know, I was lucky enough to not only attend New York Comic Con last weekend but to also spend a fair amount of time behind the table of the Del Rey Star Wars booth. Erich, Tom, and everyone were awesome for letting me help out so much. Working the booth a great way to see and chat with a bunch of different Star Wars folks (Apologies to Pablo for asking about Barriss again and a weird as heck Legacy question). It also definitely gave me a different view of Star Wars fans as a whole. Therefore, it only seems appropriate to share a few things I learned during my time behind the table.
1. Nothing gets people’s attention faster than yelling “Free Star Wars! Come and get it!”
Over the course of four days, we handed out about five thousand copies of the sampler and twenty-five hundred of Tarkin. That’s a lot of Star Wars! There are very few people in this world who are going to say no to a free Star Wars book when you hand them one unless they already happen to own it. And when you start handing people copies directly? They will start flocking like crazy. On a related note, people will also try really hard to get you to just give them one of the freebies that are purchase or preorder incentives. (Pro Tip: Asking to have one when you aren’t buying something probably won’t work. You’re more likely to get one when you don’t expect it.)
2. It takes all of an hour before you just start nodding when people ask if you’re Del Rey.
And then it takes you at least a week to break yourself of the habit of saying “we” as seen in Exhibit A above. Mostly, it was just easier to say when you were behind the table for hours each day and it just wasn’t worth the effort to explain that no, I’m actually a Star Wars blogger fan who just happens to be handling your purchase today. The Square reader makes you look super official and people don’t notice that your badge says ‘press’ and not ‘exhibitor’.
3. You develop your selling pitches for each of the books really really quickly.
I now have a great one for Rise of the Empire that can be tailored to include Lords of the Sith and Aftermath depending on what else the person has read. Heck, I’ve even got one for Heir to the Jedi (despite not super digging the book) that’s entirely true, sounds nice, and never once has me say that I love the book. You also learn to adapt them for whoever you’re talking to. I did, however, find it amusing when someone asked whether they should get Aftermath or Heir to the Jedi when Chuck was standing next to me and they clearly had no clue who he was. (Spoilers: They ended up buying both.)
And on a related note…
4. I really enjoy saying “ADMIRAL Rae Sloane” in a way that’s both enthusiastic and, upon further consideration, probably more than a little weird.
So maybe I’m just really excited about the Levers of Power story that Jason Fry wrote and maybe I just really want everyone to read about Admiral Rae Sloane at the Battle of Endor. Okay yes, she was part of my sales pitch but she’s also the coolest and every Star Wars fan needs to know about her. My baby’s all grown up and kicking butt at Endor and I’M JUST REALLY REALLY PROUD OF HER, OKAY?
5. Some people really believe that the fake The Force Awakens promo covers were around an actual copy of novelization.
They were not. In fact, if my memory serves me correctly, those were actually around a copy of Aftermath and a Danielle Steel book. So, you know, close. The Aftermath II and III and the Bloodline covers were also fake. I’m pretty sure those books don’t even exist yet but that certainly didn’t stop people from trying to get their hands on them which actually became quite humorous after a while.
6. Most of the people who come to the booth are genuinely excited about Star Wars and at least mildly interested in all the new canon books you have there.
For those of us who mainly exist in the online world of Star Wars fandom, we sometimes forget plenty of fans aren’t a part of those discussions. For every person who loved the Expanded Universe, there are three others who never really got into it or who perhaps had never heard of it but who are now intrigued by these books that are a part of the canon. Those are the people who are really fun to talk to because you can bond over Star Wars things that you both enjoy and then just maybe you can get them excited about new Star Wars books or characters that they haven’t heard of yet. Introducing people to this broader world is a genuine joy.
7. …but there are still people who will come up and express their disappointment about the Legends thing. Some of them will come back multiple times to do so.
This was probably a no brainer but yep, I got to interact with some Legends folks! Very few people will be rude to your face though… they’ll just mutter comments as they walk away or say them loudly as they walk by because either they’re being passive aggressive or because they think you can’t hear them? Honestly, I can’t say anyone was particularly bad. This wasn’t the Facebook comments in real life. Some folks just aren’t going to move on and that’s just that.
But uhhh… folks? I know you miss Legends. I miss Legends. But uhh… don’t try and Kickstart the EU. I can’t even begin to explain all of the reasons why that won’t work.
8. Alexander Freed is the master of working a signing line.
While I’ve never been on the signing end of things, I imagine that it’s not an easy task to repeatedly say hi and have a brief conversation with someone while also signing your name on a poster or book for the dozenth time. Freed not only moved the line along quickly but also took the time to actually talk to everyone. It’s doubly impressive that he even did so on Sunday afternoon when everyone was tired. Honestly, the mastery is difficult to describe unless you got to observe it. It’s an art form. (By the way, you should all get excited for Twilight Company!)
9. Luke Skywalker is going to die at least 20 times in Aftermath: Life Debt and they will all be Nanci’s fault. Or N4N-C1’s fault.
It’s confirmed news. Sorry, Nanci. Right out of the Wendig’s mouth during his Saturday signing. Just wait until we get to Aftermath: Empire’s Electric Boogaloo! HE’S GONNA DIE A HUNDRED TIMES. AT LEAST.
10. Working on the other side of the book table is a hell of a lot of fun and the Del Rey folks have the best jobs in the world.
Need I say more?