Planning for SPX 2017 is already in full effect! We're locking in some amazing special guests, getting all sorts of fun things planned, and generally trying to make the best possible show we can for you.
We've learned a TON over the past few years regarding exhibitor registration by hearing from all of you, and as we head into the fourth year of our system we want to make sure you have all the right information you need. If you are interested in exhibiting at SPX this year — and we sincerely hope that you are — here's what you need to know for 2017.
An SPX Exhibitor Registration Primer
As you may know by now, SPX has a two phase registration system that combines invited exhibitors with a lottery that in past years has led to a roughly 50/50 split. The two phases are staggered, which allows us to maximize the number of tables available for the lottery.
This is the second year that the SPX team is evaluating our list of invited exhibitors on an annual basis. This helps us ensure that we can continue to bring in diverse, talented creators that we feel will enrich the SPX experience for everyone.
Every year we'll do out best to ensure that invitees to SPX will include a diverse, vibrant cast of characters — a mix of our long time exhibitors, large and small independent publishers, self-publishing cartoonists, international creators as well as newcomers to comics.
February 3th - Invited exhibitors will begin receiving notices.
March 1st - Last day for invited exhibitors to confirm their table space.
For the Lottery:
February 10th - The SPX table lottery opens.
February 24th - The SPX table lottery closes.
SPX Table Lottery winners will be notified shortly after the close of the lottery. Depending on the number of submissions it may take us a few weeks to review the entrants for duplicates or other issues before actually pulling the winning names. We expect this to take roughly about two weeks, so you should hear from us by early March.
More Questions, You Have Them
We know many of you will likely have further questions, so here's a few quick notes on the way ahead and our process for 2017 exhibitor registration:
SPX REGISTRATION: Invited Exhibitors
How will I know if I have been invited?
Invited exhibitors will begin receiving notices from SPXon February 3. Invitees will have until March 1st to confirm their table space, with a few reminders sent in between. Any invitee tables not claimed by March 1st will roll over to the lottery pool.
How does SPX decide who gets a reserved table?
The SPX executive committee will collectively review the invitation list each year to make this determination.
If I was invited last year does that mean I am guaranteed an invitation this year?
No, not necessarily. It is possible you will receive an invitation again, but four years into the process, we recognize the need to begin shaking up this list. Doing so will allow us to ensure that we can invite people that we think will be a great fit for the show.
If I wasn't invited this year does that mean I'll never be invited again?
Not at all. The invitation list will change annually. There will not be a formal rotation or cooling off process but our goal is ensure that the process is equitable. Not being invited one year does not mean you won't be invited the next.
If I am not on this year's invitee list, can I enter the table lottery?
SPX REGISTRATION: Lottery Entrants
When will the lottery take place?
The 2017 table lottery registration period will open up starting February 10. You'll have two weeks, until February 24, to enter your information. SPX will post lottery information widely on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr as well as our website. You won't be able to miss it.
How do I apply for the lottery?
When lottery registration opens we'll post an online form that collects some basic information. This year we are doing away with the randomized number generation to cut down on confusion; you will receive one confirmation email, and then an email at the end of the lottery. This registration website link will be shared widely on social media later this week.
Please note that we will not be picking the randomized lottery winners until after all applciations have been received; this means there is no benefit to applying early or late (except maybe peace of mind).
You can only apply for the lottery once, and multiple entries will result in being removed from the lottery pool (unless you email us and tell us you accidentally clicked twice or something, we do have a heart!).
You will not be responsible for any payments until after the lottery is complete.
How will I find out if I won a lottery table (or half table)?
We will notify the winners via email in early March. Winners will then have until March 31 to confirm and pay for their table. Any unused tables will be carried over to the wait list. If you are selected, half tables will cost $185 while full tables will cost $375.
Do I really have a shot at a table from the lottery?
Heck yes. We earmark a minimum of 110 tables (out of our total of 270) for the lottery. When you look at this in terms of exhibitors behind those tables over the last three years we've been filling about half of SPX via the lottery.
Will there be a wait list?
Absolutely. We store the next 75 names after filling our lottery tables and folks get pulled in every year from this wait list.
SPX REGISTRATION: Other Questions
I HATE this system. SPX, why are you so dumb?
In order for us to pull this show off each year, we need to balance limited table space against a bunch of ravenous groups that eagerly take all the tables! Big publishers, small publishers, self-publishers, local favorites, international guests, old faces, new hotness — all worthy and all welcome!
Our registration process helps us manage overwhelming interest in the show in a manner consistent with our core values. Most comic arts festivals are by invitation only. We knew that wasn't for us. But a pure lottery wouldn't work either. Community is what makes SPX. We had to find a balance that honored both — and helps us manage massive demand to exhibit at the show.
Why not just more add more space?
There is quite simply no larger facility anywhere in the Washington, DC area with the crucial combination of hotel and convention space — but the more important issue is that the indie comics industry is growing even faster than SPX, drawing more and more passionate, talented creators to the medium. It would be impossible for us to expand enough to meet demand without raising prices significantly for both exhibitors and attendees alike.
Even if we could locate a venue with a similar set-up and more space — and one that wouldn't totally blow our budget — consider that over two days SPX runs only about 14 hours. With 650 to 700 creators exhibiting, assuming an attendee stays on the show floor every single minute and wasted only seconds moving from table to table, that leaves a barely one minute per creator.
We want folks who exhibit at SPX to have the best chance possible to make money at our show. For the time being — and we're at the Marriott through 2020 — it simply does not make sense to seek a larger exhibition hall space.