Choosing Which Convention to Attend

This article was intended for writers who want to promote their work, but after writing this article I understood that it can be applied to anyone in many spheres of work. When you begin to search for the correct conventions you realize the world is full of them. Whether they are in your backyard or halfway around the world choosing the right one is what counts. So, how does one know which is the right one? Since I was referring to writers let’s do a little analysis on what we do. This isn’t psychoanalysis, but that would help, at least, for the type of work you do. Knowing your genre will be most beneficial here. For example, I write Science Fiction and Horror. Places you may look for convention information may be Associations or Groups dealing with your specialty. For me, that would be the Horror Writer’s Association, http://www.horror.org, or Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s of America, http://www.sfwa.org . I would recommend joining these if you want full use of their benefits. There are many organizations for your genre, Romance, http://www.rwa.org/cs/about_rwa, Mystery, http://www.mysterywriters.org/, Young Adult Writers please see romance writers. They have a section just for you. Once you link in and begin searching your will find hundreds of events that you will need to cull down. 
       Finding cons is only a one-time event. Once you attend a convention there are usually tables everywhere with advertisements for dozens of other upcoming events. Your list will continue to grow exponentially. The earlier you find out about a convention the better. There are a few benefits to signing up early. Often the rates are cheaper for entry. This will give you more time to get the best buys on travel tickets. (Hint - sometimes the hotel rate can be found cheaper through sites other than the convention.) As a voice of experience, be prepared for delays and cancellations, especially due to weather. If you have a flight and no flight insurance - beware. And if you do have the insurance - you have to pay up front and get reimbursed, sometimes with a small deductible. By planning ahead it is easier to pay for things and not get hit with a large bill after the convention. You may also contact colleagues and friends to see if someone wants to share a room. That really helps cut the cost down. 
       For any of you who want to list upcoming conventions please feel free to share them. Please tune in for the upcoming blog on preparing to work your convention. It’s not as easy as you think - but you can get more for you money if you do a little work in advance! Talk to you soon!

Preparing to Promote You at Writer’s Conventions

Preparing? What’s to prepare? You throw a few articles in your bag and go. So what? When you get there you meet all the right people and rub elbows with the publishers. Catch someone’s attention and your book is sold! Right. (Insert serious sarcasm here!) Let’s try this again. Going to a convention to promote ‘you’ takes a lot of preparation. You have to ask yourself a lot of questions and take some time to get the necessary information. For example, what types of stories do your write? Every publisher there is not interested in your work. Especially if it isn’t what they publish. You wouldn’t talk to a fantasy publisher about your horror story. Or a specialty horror publisher about that new Science Fiction piece you just finished. Why? You may be wasting your time. You may be at a Romance con but that doesn’t mean they want your erotica. You get my point?
       Say you decide to go to the World Horror Convention. You write Science Fiction and horror, maybe a dab of fantasy. But what do you have ready to promote? (You don’t want to pitch unfinished or unwritten work!) Think about what you have available and do your research. In the meantime - don’t forget to order your business cards! Here we go.
1. Who are the publishers who will be there? You can check the con website and see who is listed. 
2. Which people from the publishing company are attending - find out their names. 
3. Aren’t sure what type of work Company A publishes? - Get online and find out! 
4. Analyze who are your best options and choose more than one. I usually start my list with at least three publishers - more if it’s a large convention. 
5. Make sure you know who you will be looking for. (Both the publisher and the people working for them) Usually going to their website will give you their names as well. If you have no idea (which first timers won’t) you can go online and Google them. Hit images and usually you will find pictures of the owners or employees to help you identify the right person. Then check the membership list for them. Putting a face to a name is quite beneficial.
       Their website will tell you all about the authors they have published. If you don’t know who they are - find more information about their books and authors and what they are like. You may have to do some reading, but that should be pleasurable enough. Once you know which publisher would be the best option, then list the second, and - you get the idea. Also, I include a little blurb to remind me what I want to say. When you keep checking it you will remember it, most of the time. It’s a little awkward to walk around with this list and reading from it when you finally meet said person, so you really want to try and remember what you want to pitch. Most publishers will probably not be sitting at the table waiting, with their name tag on for you to tell them about your new bestseller, much as we would like them to. 
       Now we need to take our lists and prepare for the search and find mission! The first place to go is the program! Once you get the program you can find which panels and events the people you are looking for will be located. Listening to them will help you with your pitch, (which you should have been practicing all along!) If you’re lucky they will have a pitch session and you can sign up to talk to the person(s) you want to meet. Another source, volunteer, this can put you in a position to meet the desired person(s).
You survived your first con!
This may be true, but don’t get too relaxed. Yes, there is more to do. Remember all those conversations, that pocket full of business cards you collected and possibly the list of notes to remind you about who, what where and when? Yes, that one. It’s time to pull all of that out and get to work doing more networking and reminding people who you are.

After the Con

First, you want to be sure and connect with people you met on social media. Often times I have had people pull out their phone right there while we are talking, pull me up on Facebook or Twitter and friend me on the spot (Or you can be the one doing this.). If this didn’t get done, then you need to do it now while it’s still fresh in your mind. You may want to send a message reminding them where you met or what you may have talked about, especially if they are a publisher or agent. Second, did you get any requests for your work? If you haven’t sent it out already then get it done now. Be sure you follow all the submission guidelines exactly as stated on their website or according to who made the request. If you aren’t sure about something there is usually a place where you can email them to find out what you need - if someone else hasn’t already done it. Yes, check all the postings. Don’t forget to thank everyone as well. It’s the little things that can make a big difference.
       Third, did you talk with anyone who is accepting submissions but you didn’t have anything ready for that market? It’s time to check your idea list to see if you might have something you can complete before their deadline. Please note: if the deadline is looming quite close make sure you don’t just write something to be able to send it out. You have to have quality work for them to even consider using your story. If you don’t have enough time to properly write, critique and edit your work then don’t do it. Check for a future project you might be able to submit for and start on that one.
       Fourth, and this is the most important of all. Get back to writing! Just because you sent something out doesn’t mean you can sit back and wait for that big acceptance contract. We all know the odds for submissions. If you get published, Congratulations! If not, you have to be ready and constantly submitting to other markets or agents. Even if you are one of the lucky ones there are more markets waiting for your story.

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