Hi Readers & Writers,
With book convention season upon us, I thought I’d compile some tips and tricks to navigating conventions. I’ve both attended and worked behind the booth so hopefully this list will be able to help you out whether you’re a first time attendee or a frequent show goer.
1. Dress Comfortably. There are going to be a lot of people around and the last thing you want is to overheat in the first hour. I always opt for good ole quality cotton and dresses (with pockets) because bless pockets.
2. WATER IS YOUR BEST FRIEND. This circles back to point one, but aside from overheating, you’re going to do a lot of running around. You’d be surprised how quickly dehydration sets in.
3. Try to Arrive Early. For conventions like Book Con, there’s going to be a line alongside a bag check. Take the time you need to eat, park if you’re driving, and prepare yourself for the day.
4. Plan What You Want to See in Advance!! Trust me – this will save you so much time. I would also recommend highlighting what you absolutely don’t want to miss. Chances of doing everything on your list are low between crowds and wait time.
5. Learn the Layout. Spend a few minutes locating all the booths and author signings you’re interested in. This will ground you and save time later.
6. Budget, Budget, Budget. Food and drinks are always overpriced in convention halls. Be prepared for that. But also, be prepared for all of the glorious things you’re going to want to buy.
7. Be Prepared to Wait, A Lot. Between panels and ARC drops, sometimes you’ll need to line up an hour, maybe two in advance. Factor that into your schedule and what you need to either be standing or sitting for long periods.
8. Pack Light Initially. This will save your shoulders and back as you continue to collect swag and books.
Warning: grabbing everything you can may and likely will happen.
9. TAKE BREAKS. Make sure you take time to sit, recharge, and mentally/physically recompose yourself. You’re going to get tired quicker than you normally would.
At book con day two last year, I had a migraine. You can imagine how that went.
10. Make Friends! You’re going to be surrounded by book people. Most of them are super friendly and it’ll be easy to strike up conversations while waiting in line.
11. Respect Boundaries. This applies to convention goers, authors, and booth workers. Ask before taking photos or engaging in any physical contact (hand shakes, hugs, etc.). Every person has a different comfort level.
12. Have Your Badge Visible At All times! You’ll need this to enter the convention hall, but also for book drops and events. In Book Con specifically, they scan your badge before giving you whatever it is you’re lined up for.
13. Pushing Gets You Nowhere. I know there are a lot of cool things at conventions, but you don’t want to be that person.
14. Thank the Workers! It gets hectic and they’re working several days in a row to keep the show together.
Last year there was a wonderful Harper Collins woman who cleared a very crowded aisle and I thanked her once I got to the front of the line. Her smile was heartwarming.
15. If You Want to Network, I Highly Recommend Business Cards. They’re an easy way to have all your important information in one place and pass on after talking with someone.
Protip: Keep some business cards tucked behind your name tag if you’re wearing a lanyard.
16. Know the Rules. Author signings require a separate ticket from general admission (at least for Book Con). You will register for these before the con itself and they will not cost you anything – unless it’s a special entertainment guest. Every person, I believe, gets two signings per day.
17. Check Twitter. A lot of pub houses will tweet about contests, book drops, and author signings during shows. Turn on notifications so you can stay up to date.
18. Have fun! Get those books and swag and take tons of pictures.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave them below.