One could look at having booth space at a convention, at least a comic & sci-fi convention, as setting up a mini store for three days. So what’s your business? What are you selling? Who’s your competition? How do you attract customers? Do you accept major credit cards? How much for that yellow board with the painted-on smiling face?
All I really want to do is draw pictures and tell stories. Ugh, business busy-ness.
On the attracting customers point, because it’s one of the last things within your control, and yet often the potential customer’s FIRST impression, the answer is simply advertising - or marketing really. The booth space it’s about having presence. I’d advise three things:
1) Something Big. Something to catch as many wandering eyes as possible. If someone 2 aisles down thinks “what is that?”, wouldn’t you like “that” to be your booth?
2) Color. People like color. Give the people what they like. Isn’t that why you have booth space at a comic convention, even if the “people” are are a small, rag-tag, rebel band of fugitives?
3) Lots of Stuff. This simply means lots of sales opportunity, but also lots to look at and more reason and time for the customer to linger. Some times lots of different book titles just looks like lots of books, so throw in different sized books or prints or just different type of merchandise.
I don’t advise free things, unless you can justify it in your marketing budget. Giving stuff away is just negative income is not the same as advertising.