Well, I don't think we're going back. At least not next year. The most objective analysis I can give is that either you already have to be indy famous (Kate Beaton did extremely well), or a returning regular, or you have to have the support of a particular subculture community like the LGBT folks. Ideally, you're all three.
It's all well and good to say get out there and hustle before the show and let people know you'll be there, but most people I talked to that were attendees were either local to the area or checking the show out while they happened to be in San Francisco anyhow... in other words, they didn't come to SF specifically for APE. If you're not coming in for the show in the first place, how many people are going to travel long-distance to see a particular comic? And let's face it, most webcomic audiences are long-distance.
Dawn and I both felt like it was a very different crowd, and the acoustics in the hall made it so hard to hear people, even in low traffic times, that I'm still up in the air whether my greetings to people looking through our stuff just went unheard or APE attendees just like being stonily silent. If the answer is that you've got to jump around and wave your arms constantly and quote Glengarry Glen Ross in order to sell, then I'll just stick to the conventions where I don't have to do that, i.e. every other one we've exhibited at.
If we were closer to the show we might give a shot at doing it for a few years to see if we could build up some recognition audience that way, but after giving it the ol' college try I just don't think it's the best use of our budget and time. Usually even if we don't do well on sales I feel like we at least made up for it from a promotional standpoint, but at APE it really seemed like I couldn't even hand out the freebies.