So Borough Con Really Could Use a Proofreader…

Look, I’ll be the first to admit that I know very little about Borough Con beyond the basics. I mean, I know it’s a first year con being held in Jamaica, Queens from May 26-29, 2017, and I know they’re estimating a 20,000 attendance number (though I’ll eat my hat if that bit actually happens). But I also know one more thing…

…they’re in dire need of a proofreader.

Borough Con has been doing what any first year con does, and that’s reach out to prospective vendors to try to recruit them. There is literally nothing strange about the emails they’ve been sending out, except for one tiny detail. You see, they’ve included a flier with these emails. I’ll show it to you, and you’ll probably notice something wrong with it pretty quickly.


If you said “Hey, I’ve never heard of an event called Lorem Ipsum,” you’ve probably noticed that the flier sent out publicly has a bunch of placeholder text in it. For those of you unaware, Lorem Ipsum is a string of (partially butchered) Latin used by typesetters and graphic designers to fill space. It’s effectively a way to mark “put content here” while seeing how the layout will look with text in it. You may also note a string of “Logos” on the bottom, clearly meant to be filled in with companies sponsoring the event.

It’s a sloppy mistake that could have been easily avoided if someone on staff had actually paid attention to what file was being attached to their email. I mean, I don’t know if we can say anything more about Borough Con with this mistake, but it sure is pretty damned funny.

  • William Freedman

    Yeah, when that draft escaped captivity, we really cringed. Still, I’m surprised that was the only problem you saw with that email. You didn’t notice that the information provided was dated and there was no call for action. As a result, what was an avalanche-level open rate on that email yielded the most miniscule click-through rate. So we’re waiting a few days for the dust settle before we send out a more professional announcement. You caught us on a bad day. We’re embarrassed as hell.

    But we’ve otherwise done a lot of things right. Like Nerd and Tie, we consider ourselves as much a content management enterprise as an event management one; considering our web site was launched only this past July, I’m proud of how fast we’re closing in on your Alexa ranking.

    If you want to know why we’re confident we’ll see 20,000 guests four months from now, we’d be glad to walk you through our business plan and show you the kind of backing we have behind us. I’d like to introduce you to our CEO, CFO and track leads, each of whom has at least five years’ con-running experience — and have played to crowds twice that size. (BTW, Trae, what size hat do you wear? Asking for a friend.)

    I hope you keep covering us. Our web site is http://boroughcon.com/. Sure, it’s a work in progress. We’re doing final testing on our ecommerce capability this week so that we can start selling tickets and merchandise by end-of-month. Also, we need to give that splash page a facelift. Still, I’ll stack our content up against anyone else’s in the business.

    I hope you keep covering us, Trae. I sense we’re actually kindred souls.

    Warmest regards,

    William Freedman
    CTO and Program Director
    BoroughCon LLC
    bill [at] boroughcon [dot] com

    • I try not to nitpick too much on copy structure which is why I didn’t pick apart the rest of the email, but leaving the Lorem Ipsum was just too funny not to talk about.

      As for the 20k thing… you’ll have to forgive my skepticism, but a “20k attendance estimate” is literally the exact figure I hear five times a year from first year events and not one has ever reached it. Rewind Con said they’d get 20k. Comic Excitement Convention said they’d get 20k. Wine Country Comic Con said they’d get 20k.

      I mean, I hope you succeed and that you really DO get those numbers — but you have to see why I jump to instant skepticism the moment “20k” gets bandied about.

      • William Freedman

        Nothing to forgive. We have a member of our core team whose job it is to be skeptical. It wasn’t until we convinced this guy — who used to stuff nerds like us in lockers back in high school — that we had the confidence to go forward.

        Most of our top staff came over from Orlando’s Knightrokon, which they’d taken from an idea to a 40,000-attendee con in the space of a single college cycle. In fact, 40,000 was our original figure but we dialed it back to 20,000 because that’s all our venue, St. John’s University could handle.

        And here’s where geography plays a role. I grew up in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, which has about the same population as Wisconsin’s Chippewa Valley. When I moved here to New York, the change in density was a huge shock to the system. Queens, where our venue is located, has the population of Houston. Adjacent Brooklyn has the population of Chicago. New York Comic Con is an incredible media spectacle but, to be honest, it’s for the high rollers and the out-of-towners. The equivalent of Chicago and Houston doesn’t have a hometown, holiday weekend, pop culture convention.

        I don’t want to get too deep into our business but, suffice to say, we’ve got enough attention from private investors, civic leaders and the media to make this happen. We’ve announced our cosplay guests and have several actors, comic book auteurs, and at least one Household Name either fully contracted or in late stages of negotiation. Announcements are coming soon.

        Last point: How about those conventions that actually DID 20k through the door in their first years? Alamo City, Silicon Valley, Salt Lake City, Denver …? We’re actually in good company.

        It’s great having this exchange with you, Trae, but maybe it would be easier to do this as an interview. I can make our CEO or anyone else on the core team available for your podcast or a blog post.

        • William,

          I’m originally from the Northeast and have attended over 160 conventions, started two, and staffed more. I even run a web site that lists your convention and thousands of others. …so with that in mind, please understand where I’m coming from when I say that there is no absolutely way in hell that you guys will ever get 20,000 people in your first year. I’d be absolutely shocked if you got 10,000 people.

          Silicon Valley Comic Con got those numbers for one major reason: Steve Wozniak. When a co-founder of Apple Computer starts a comic convention, every local news station in the Bay Area covers it. It got massive promotion from the local media…the kind no other con can get.

          Yes, you’re in the NYC area, but look at AnimeNext, Big Apple Comic Con, Big Apple Anime Fest, and even New York Comic Con. None of those NYC-area cons got even 10,000 in their first year and some of them have been around over a decade and still aren’t 20k.

          I’m sorry, but I hope you can check back in with reality before you suffer the same fate as SO MANY other conventions that Trae and I have both witnessed (and run ourselves) which overestimate their first-year attendance goals.

          -Patrick Delahanty
          FanCons.com

          • Maybe they mean 20,000 turnstile and not warm body? I mean, with anime top billed, it’d be strange to count turnstile, but I could see that in 3 days under perfect conditions

          • William Freedman

            Trae, we expect 40,000 gate turns based on 20,000 individual badges.

            Cosplay isn’t going to be our top draw, although it will certainly be significant — especially stars like Riki “Riddle” LeCotey and Monika Lee. Those guests were just the first to answer the mail. We have at least five well-known anime and gaming actors, four comic book legends and one major studio franchise mainstay under contract and will be announcing them by the end of the month.

            We also have a gaming tourney, run by Aston Mack, that should be good for 5,000+ tickets. And we expect that, as we announce more about the programming that has tangential or no connection to our guests, people will show up for the screenings and panels, and enjoy wandering the vendors’ room and artists’ alley as their schedule permits. But we do have about 20 rooms we’ll be filling with all that. The first cut of that grid is filled out, but we’ve got months to finalize and publish it.

            We expect skepticism because you’re comparing us to the typical rookie crew. Most teams of first-year con-runners don’t include entertainment lawyers, MBAs with 15 years’ IBM consulting experience, professional talent agents, professional publicists, credentialed web developers, talented graphic artists, or a fully fleshed out leadership org chart filled with names of people with 5+ years each of event management expertise. They don’t have connections with the local business community, media and public officials that we’ve been carefully cultivating. And, by and large, they’re not in the biggest city in America. Which for some reason doesn’t have as many major pop culture events as many secondary markets. Over a four-day weekend where there’s practically nothing else going on in town.

            We’re not a couple guys in a garage with a fax machine. If I’m deluding myself, then I’m also deluding about 40 other people, most of whom know more about this business than I do (and I too have attended 100+ cons as a volunteer, program participant or full-retail fan).

          • The Awesome Con guys are pretty experienced and know what they’re doing, but when they tried to run “Awesome Con Indianapolis” a few years ago, they anticipated 20,000 as well… and didn’t get close to even 10,000.

            I know that New York is a very different market than Indianapolis, but you have to understand that from our point of view, 20,000 just doesn’t sound realistic.

          • William Freedman

            Guess we’ll all know by Memorial Day. Please stay tuned.