Hello! Mage of Cello Raptor studios here! Always good to see another Artist joining our ranks. Mwahahaha.
This is more of generic convention advice that I learned the hard way from my first year at A-Cen, but wasn't at Artist's Alley that year.
~Food: Although the thought of eating nothing but nachos and McDonalds all weekend is enough to make anyone's mouth water, your stomach will hate you for it. Even if you just have a nutritious breakfast and a couple healthy snacks, that's enough to give you enough energy to get you through the day, rather than feeling tired, sluggish and not so perky. For sitting at our table, I always pack a big bag of snacks, which usually includes apples, bananas, peanut butter, some bread, cereal bars and some granola. I also bring some big bag of candy like Twizzlers or fun sized snickers because it's great to bribe your Artist's Alley neighbors with.
~sleep: As much as we all hate to do it at a 24 hour convention, you can't survive on Rockstar energy and Mountain Dew alone -although it definitely helps!-. Now, you don't need to conk out for exactly 8 hours of sleep, but naps of about two hours a couple times a day really help. I usually crash after AA closes until about 10 or 11, stay up until 5 or 6 in the morning and manage to snag a couple z's before Artist's Alley opens the next day. You'll be more awake and refreshed to enjoy your evening activities as well as be cheerful and perky for your customers!
~Water: Kind of goes under the 'food' category, but drop a couple bucks on a 24 pack of bottled water, especially if you're running a table with someone. Drinks are kind of expensive at con, and usually you're better off bringing your own supply.
As far as Artist's Alley specific advice, Ranefea pretty most of it, but I have to reinforce a couple things.
~Tablecloth: Absolutely! A lot of people bring in clean bed sheets or plastic covers from a Party store. I personally recommend the bed sheet or a big swath of patterned fabric from a Hobby Lobby, just because my first year we used a plastic table covering and it got so messed up by the end of the weekend it looked awful. Of course a lot of people make it work, but me and my studio member are just clutzes.XD
~Notebook: Not only for recording sales, but also to write down ideas for next year! My first year, I kind of ran in blind, only skimming advice here and there. We were lucky enough to have veteran neighbors who had a lot of advice, but it helped make sure we had everything the next year. And heck, even the next year I had two notebook pages of plushie and crocheting requests, arrangement ideas, etc. It's really useful to keep track of things that you know you'll want to bring for the next convention and make sure you're more prepared!
~Lockbox: YE5. They're $20 at Party City and considering how much money one can rake in, it's a worthwhile investment.
~Neighbors: Be very nice to your neighbors, especially if you're a one man studio. Not only does talking with your fellow artist's pass the time, but it's a great time to swap techniques and ideas, network and other such things. Besides that, sometimes you'll need to go on a bathroom break and need a set of eyes while you're gone. People in Artist's Alley make everything they sell, so, for the most part, appreciate the time and effort that goes into your work. I'm not saying no one will steal, but use your judgment, rely on your neighbors and make friends! That's what we're here for!
~Business Cards: If you have a website or DeviantArt, it's a really great idea to have business cards. Just something simple with your name, your studio name, e-mail address and a website. That way people can get in touch with you after con and direct some traffic to your website!
My second year, I just used a business card template, put our logo on there and printed it on card stock. The 50 I made were all gone by Friday. XD Last year I forgot to make cards, so I just doodled something on a piece of paper and put my DA address on it. This year, I just got 500 business cards for $16 on Vistaprint.com. You can order 250 for free, just know you have to click through like a million pages of ads by the time you're at the check out. XD
~signage: As long as it's neat and tidy, it makes sure people know who you are so that way they can come back to you year after year. ;3
~Greetings: Always say hi to your customers! They took the trouble to come aside and look at your wares, the least you could do is say, "Hi! How're you guys enjoying the convention so far?". Usually that simple greeting makes them more comfortable with asking you prices, which is more likely to lead to a purchase.
I know it sounds like a lot, but if you just remember to be friendly and outgoing with your neighbors and customers, that about covers half of what I just said. XD
A couple things to avoid
~DO NOT TOUCH: Nothing rubs me the wrong way more than this! I understand not wanting children with sticky hands manhandling your merch, but scaring off a potential customer with a 'Do not touch' sign is suicide. I work in retail and the first thing we're taught is people use all five of their senses to make a purchase decision, and the more senses they can use, the more likely they are to buy. Now, I know the nature of the merchandise kind of effects how well this works, but let people poke through your jewelry, flip through your books, as long as they're not hurting anything. -gets off soap box-
~Loitering Friends: If you live in this area and aren't coming to the convention out of state, chances are you have a lot of friends attending A-Cen. And a cluster of loitering friends can not only block traffic, but prevent other people from looking at and buying your stuff. Not to say be rude and stave them off at all costs, just be wary of how much time and space they're using. XD And under no circumstance let someone without a badge behind your table! You can lose your table as well as it's taking up other artist's room.
Hope that helped dearie and we'll see you in May!