I love going to writing/book/mystery conventions and festivals. Where else are so many book lovers crammed into one space? And where else do I get a chance to talk shop and meet tons of interesting people? I’ve got two big events coming up within the next week, the Malice Domestic convention and the Festival of Mystery; both are loads of fun.
But despite how fun they are, these gatherings can be overwhelming. So many people to talk to, so many great panels and workshops and interviews and banquets
and poker games. In order to maximize my enjoyment, I’ve found it helpful to prepare a game plan.
Some things I consider:
Specific people I want to meet or talk to. Many conventions post lists of attendees, so I go through these ahead of time and note people I’d like to make sure to meet. I’ve made a lot of friends in cyberspace and I love meeting them in person. Also, this is my chance to meet some of the writers whose work I’ve admired.
Panels I’d like to attend. At the bigger conventions, there are multiple panel tracks. This means you have to make some tough decisions. I’ll look at the program ahead of time and figure out which panels seem most interesting. Of course, once I get to the convention, my plans usually change. Often, it’s a lot more fun to get involved in an impromptu discussion in the lobby with a small group.
Downtime. After going non-stop, from dawn to the wee hours, at a couple conferences, I’ve learned I need some downtime during the day, whether it’s just to get some fresh air or recharge my batteries. I’ll look at the schedule and try to determine possible times for doing that.
Meals. Gotta eat, right?
Books. Can’t go to a convention without buying some books! I see which of my favorite (or new) authors are going to be there so I can buy one and get it signed.
Promotion is a valuable aspect of these conventions. I speak on panels and sign books, so I need to make sure I arrive at the right place, at the right time, and have my material—notes, handouts, bookmarks, Sharpies, etc.
If you’re going to be at Malice Domestic (April 29 – May 1 in Bethesda, MD) or the Festival of Mystery (May 2 in Oakmont, PA), please stop by and say hello. Like I said, I love, love, love meeting my cyberspace pals in person!