The fans at LGBT romance are fiercely loyal and the chance to meet them at a con can be very exciting. At cons there is always a party going on, even at the breakfast table. But in the end, an author attends a con to further their career. And doing so can get expensive very quickly.
If you have ever attended a con, you know how some authors pull out all the stops, with huge banners and the greatest swag. There is a lot of pressure to keep up. Unfortunately, the old adage “you have to spend money to make money” is quite apropos at a con.
Don’t allow that to steal all of the fun out of a con!
Business cards and swag are must haves, we all know that. Wherever you go at a con, you need to have promo material handy. It’s important to have all items ordered ahead of time just in case of printing mistakes. Most hotels will even let you ship your swag directly to them a few days early so you won’t have to travel with it. Make sure you call the hotel for details.
Shopping for promo materials reveal are all sorts of things available for purchase—cups, pens, hats, t-shirts. The list is only limited by the imagination. The cost, however, is more than some can afford. This can leave a writer feeling left out, helpless to further their career and eventually convince them cons are a waste of time and money.
But nothing is more important than connecting with your readers!
While, it can be very frustrating to compete with a writer who has a bigger budget, we need to remember: Just because you can’t afford the coolest swag doesn’t mean you will be forgotten.
NEVER FORGET: personal connections go farther than a bookmark.
Maybe you can’t pass out glow in the dark twirling pens, but you still can still make a great impression with readers.
First, by dressing for success.
You should look your best at all times. This doesn’t mean wearing Armani, but a professional cannot attend a con looking like a slob. It seems obvious but unfortunately, I’ve seen it and I’ve also heard fans and readers make disappointed/disparaging comments about an author who looks sloppy. The payoff on grooming and looking your best is immeasurable.
And don’t forget to smile!
YOU are the product you are selling more so than your book.
A writer can have all of the coolest swag, but if they make a bad first impression, it’s all for naught. When at a signing, it can get exhausting. The most successful of all authors at these events are not always the ones with all the bells and whistles. A successful author at a con pushes thru the exhaustion to keep putting on a happy face. Personally, I have to escape to the solitude of my room to decompress every day just so I can have the strength to keep up the energy to “work a room.”
Sweat hours are always worth more than dollars.
A conversation with a fan also costs nothing. Buying a round of cocktails for a few fans, or just picking up the cappuccino for the reader in line with you at the coffee shop is money better spent than any amount of ink pens and bookmarks.
But does the idea of striking up a conversation with a stranger make your palms sweat?
Why not think of a few conversation starters? That costs nothing and it’s already something a writer is good at: making up dialog!
Try making a list of 5 or 10 interesting things to start conversations to take the pressure off.
Here are some easy ones:
This is me 1st conference. How about you?
Wow, this is a really nice hotel. Where are you from?
What classes have you taken so far?
Wasn’t that a great welcome speech?
You may not have the best swag, but, don’t forget your best asset.
So put yourself out there! There are scheduled speeches and meals at most cons, why not join a table of strangers and make a new friend? Identify where you’re most comfortable meeting people and go there. Early riser? The coffee shop. Classes your fave place? Sit buy a stranger.
With very little effort, lasting friendships will be formed and those sorts of meetings will not be forgotten. But over the course of the weekend, many secondary connections will be made too. You will be meeting so many people that it might make your head spin.
An easy and free tip to prevent confusion once home with a big pile of business cards and bookmarks is to make notes on them.
In order to make life easier, I write notes on the back of the person’s business card—hair color, conversation, kids names, etc. Sometimes I’ll even do this in front of the person, so once I’m home I don’t forget anything or anyone important. The effort a writer puts in to remember a business connection or a fan costs nothing.
So have no fear!
If your budget doesn’t include rainbow fireworks and elaborate parties, you can still make the best of a con.
With preparation, friendliness and a great attitude, you will find that the connections and friendships you make are worth more than anything you could have ordered with your book cover on it.
They are priceless.
Don’t forget that your best swag is YOU!
Deanna Wadsworth might be a bestselling erotica author, but she leads a pretty vanilla life in Ohio with her wonderful husband and a couple adorable cocker spaniels. She has been spinning tales and penning stories since childhood, and her first erotic novella was published in 2010. When she isn’t writing books or brainstorming with friends, you can find her making people gorgeous in a beauty salon. She loves music and dancing, and can often be seen hanging out on the sandbar in the muddy Maumee River or chilling with her hubby and a cocktail in their basement bar. In between all that fun, Deanna cherishes the quiet times when she can let her wildly active imagination have the full run of her mind. Her fascination with people and the interworkings of their relationships have always inspired her to write romance with spice and love without boundaries.