On Saturday, 02 December, I visited DragonMeet in London for the first time as an exhibitor. This was my first time attending DragonMeet at all, so I was excited to see a convention dedicated to tabletop roleplaying games and to meet fellow designers and artists.
My wife and I drove down from North Yorkshire on Friday, 01 December and setup the booth Friday night (more on this later!). The drive took us 6 hours, mainly because we hit the outskirts of London right at rush hour.
As previously, I wanted to document my experience as a TTRPG exhibitor, covering the highs and lows, expenses, revenue, and set-up/breakdown process.
|Table rental (superior)
|Hotel (2 nights)
|Total cost of expenses
I opted for a superior stand in the Upper Trade Hall. This turned out to be a corner table (or two tables representing the corner of a section). Choosing the Upper Trade Hall ended up being a mixed bag for setup, as you’ll see later.
These are the costs solely attributed to DragonMeet 2023 and don’t include things like meals and petrol. I chose to stay at the venue itself for convenience, Novotel London West, but we received DragonMeet preferential rates which offset the cost (and also included breakfast!).
|Beneath the Broken Sword
|Runecairn: Advanced Rules
|Runecairn: Core Rules
|The Howling Caverns
|We Deal in Lead
|We Deal in Lead: Omega City (Ashcan)
|Watch & Warrant - We Deal in Lead Companion EP (Cassette)
Total amount of revenue: £1126
Some interesting things to note:
- Omega City was a convention exclusive (I only printed 100 copies) and this was much more popular at DragonMeet than at Thought Bubble
- Wardensaga was once again the most popular title, with We Deal in Lead a close second
- An EU retailer bought some books from me at wholesale prices, which seems like a great idea for everyone involved!
- I thought HOWL might sell better, as there’s more familiarity with Cairn at DM, but 4 copies is still a good showing
- Dice sets weren’t nearly as popular, likely because there were a lot of tables selling amazing dice and I didn’t restock the shiny ones after Thought Bubble
- Conversely, prints were slightly more popular than at TB, perhaps because there weren’t a lot of other tables selling prints at DM
- I gave some books to reviewers and also donated a copy of WDIL for the DragonMeet charity raffle
For Runecairn, people again seemed to prefer a single collection (Wardensaga) to the three smaller zines, though this might be down to the way I was pitching the books.
We managed to hit exactly the same profit from 1 day of DragonMeet versus 2 days of Thought Bubble, which I thought was funny.
We drove down from North Yorkshire on Friday. As I referred to earlier, choosing the Upper Trade Hall resulted in a delay in setup. The Novotel had hired out the Upper Trade Hall room that day until 18.00, so no-one could start any setup until the room was cleared, prepped, and released for setup… at 21.00.
The DragonMeet organisers previously mentioned exhibitors could ask to store stock in the loading area until the hall opened for setup. I asked for space to be reserved but never heard back so we had to park the car at the hotel and keep everything in the boot until setup.
London Tabletop Industry Networking setup a networking meet from 20.00 so we went along and chatted with some friendly faces, both new and familiar. This was a nice chance to share business cards and put names to faces.
The Upper Trade Hall finally opened for setup at about 21.15 but we couldn’t enter until we collected our wristbands, so actual setup didn’t start for us until around 21.30. None of the tables were numbered (or if they were, the numbers were covered by white tablecloths), so we had to ask around to confirm our table location.
During setup, 2 out of the 3 lifts from the carpark were broken, so we had to traipse everything through the main reception area into the Upper Trade Hall. We managed to snag a hotel luggage trolley, which wasn’t the most convenient but helped a lot. By this time, both my wife and I were exhausted, so we got the basics setup and left the rest for the next morning. We were both so tired that neither of us took any photos on the first night.
I didn’t realise that we’d have one and a half tables (a standard 6’ table and a shorter one), so we adapted and spread out a bit more (which was good!). Had I known, I would’ve planned out a more detailed layout.
Since this was our third convention, we’ve begun to streamline the process around deciding what stock to bring and how best to organise it for easy setup and breakdown.
Breakdown at 18.00 wasn’t too bad. We snagged another hotel luggage trolley and loaded everything up at once. The lifts still weren’t fixed so we had to wait to get to the carpark.
- DragonMeet has a much different vibe than ThoughtBubble, which isn’t surprising since TB is comics-focused and DM is for tabletop games; I think it’ll be tough to beat TB’s diversity
- The setup delay for the Upper Trade Hall was a big disappointment, especially considering the Lower Trade Hall could setup from 10.00; this made a long day even longer. However, I think there was more traffic in the Upper Hall, so ultimately was probably a better spot, even with the delay
- Coming from Thought Bubble, which has a bigger space and dozens of volunteers, I felt DragonMeet didn’t run as smoothly, though this could be down to the hotel
- The hotel signage was pretty poor and navigating was very difficult at times. Finding the carpark, realising there were two reception areas (ground and 1st floor), complexity in receiving deliveries, and
- Lots of people had nice things to say about the covers and art of my books, which means I must be doing something right!
- The highlight of the day was meeting fans and fellow designers who I’d only previously known from Twitter or Instagram; a lot of people recognised me as By Odin’s Beard RPG from the logo on my shirt
- Speaking of the logo, a handful of people said they loved the design and asked about shirts, so I think I’ll do another batch of t-shirts
- I gave out my business cards to a number of publishers but avoided giving one to the bigger booths like Free League or Chaosium, as I didn’t know if they’d get into the right hands; should I have dropped one off anyway?
- I sold a copy of Runecairn Wardensaga to a family with two sons wearing matching D&D Christmas jumpers and received a really nice message from the dad thanking me for taking the time to answer all their questions and to say that they’d spent the ride home absorbed in the book
- My wife and I met up with a bunch of TTRPG designers for a drink after the convention, which was a lot of fun! Thanks to Laurie for organising it
Improvements for next time
Buy a collapsible trolley, to make lugging boxes to and from the car much easier
Make a list of booths I want to visit/people I want to meet
Order more By Odin’s Beard RPG t-shirts and button badges
Confirm stand layout ahead of time if not sure