Home > Pop Culture Business​ Handbook for Cons and Festivals

Pop Culture Business​ Handbook for Cons and Festivals

Business, Strategy, and Legal Reference Guide for Film Festivals, Comic Book Conventions, Science Fiction Conventions, Music Festivals, Street Fairs, and More ​

Available in Print and on Kindle

Book Cover: Jon Garon, Pop Culture Business Handbook for Cons and Festivals
Book Cover: Jon Garon, Pop Culture Business Handbook for Cons and Festivals

The Science Fiction Convention, Comic Convention, and music festival worlds reflect labyrinths without rules or handbooks. Pop Culture Business Handbook for Cons and Festivals provides a real-world rule book for these exhilarating experiences, providing rules, strategies, and insights for the people who attend, work, and develop these fantastical worlds.

​The book highlights a strategic approach to the science fiction convention, comic convention, book fairs, and music festival worlds, providing a player’s manual, map, rulebook, and strategy guide to the user experience and promoter toolbox. Many of the strategies should also extend well past the Con itself into entrepreneurial business practices and social engagement for members of the Con community. With few exceptions, the book chapters apply equally to all public events whether they are gaming conventions, art shows, or music festivals, so for simplicity the term “Con” includes the entire range of interactive, open public programs. The applicable laws and regulations are largely the same for all these programs.

​The strategies for attending, promoting, and booking do vary, however, depending on the audience and genre, so those distinctions are highlighted where appropriate. Permanent theme parks share much in common with Cons as do professional conventions and trade shows. This book, however, focuses on cultural gathering events that bring professional creators together with their fans.

​This book provides more than a description of a Con. Each section of the book serves to provide a strategy guide to the Con community, including the promoters, the panelists, vendors, fans, and general public. In each chapter, I explain the context of the issues and identify key business decisions and legal parameters. While no single chapter can provide everything one needs to know about a topic, these will serve as a key reference guide for participants.

​Even for the casual attendee, Con attendance at the largest panels can be overwhelming. Events involving crowds in excess of one hundred thousand people make access to hotels, event tickets, transportation, and even food something of a battle. Regulars know the hidden tricks to make the event memorable while first-time attendees often find themselves hot, tired, and outside the major events. By providing a rulebook, first-time attendees can better understand the rules of the game and improve their experience.

​For entrepreneurs and artists seeking to use a Con as a business promotion strategy, understanding the theory and structure driving the Con experience is essential to success. Increasingly, businesses of all sizes have started to see the attention given to Cons and festivals as a way to promote their brands, creating a sometimes uneasy alliance between commerce, culture, and art. Municipalities seize on these events as financial engines but often fail to understand the management that must accompany the introduction of these events into a local economy.

​At their heart, all Cons must provide an entertainment experience to the audience that is engaging, unique, fun, and safe. Like the role-playing worlds these Cons sometimes emulate, the operational rules must be understandable, transparent, and supportive of an effective “in-world” economy so that participants and organizers both succeed. This guide will help all participants navigate in this world.