Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What Do You Look For in a Writing or Mystery Conference?

There are so my conferences and convention to choose from, how do you decide which on you will got to?

Some folks like to go to the big conventions like Left Coast Crime and Bouchercon to see their favorite authors. For a new author or one with a small press, sometimes the bigger conventions can be a bit daunting. The first Bouchercon I went to was in Monterey, a beautiful place for a convention. I didn't know many people there and it was nearly impossible to find those I did. Because there were six tracks of panels going on, it was difficult to choose which one to go to.

Since then, I've convinced my husband to go with me to several Bouchercons and Left Coast Crimes and we've visited places we'd have never gone otherwise like El Paso Texas, Milwaukee and Madison WI. I went alone to Anchorage twice and enjoyed myself. By this time though, I'd begun to know many of the people who attend these cons often.

I've been twice to Malice Domestic which is held near DC. Once with a good friend and the second time with my husband. We combined the second trip to a visit to his home town in Maryland. It's a smaller conference and receptive to new writers.

I really like Mayhem in the Midlands, always in Omaha, hubby likes it there too. We've gone every years since the second one and we've made many friends we enjoy seeing. It's a small conference with only three tracks and not so many people

We went once to Love is Murder arriving in the middle of snow storm in Chicago. (It's always held in February.) We enjoyed it a lot, great people and a well run mid-sized conference.

Epicon is a conference for e-published writer and I enjoy going to them as they hop all over the country: San Antonio TX, Vegas, the Queen Mary in Long Beach CA, Oklahoma City, Tampa FL to name a few. And this March we're heading to New Orleans. I'll be giving a presentation on How to Write a Mystery.

I've been to many writers' conference over the years, but I will no longer go to them unless I have the opportunity to be a speaker. There is one exception, and that's the Public Safety Writers Association's conference. http://www.publicsafetywriter.com
That's because I'm the program chair of that one and I've presented often, but anyone who registers before March 31 will have the opportunity to be on a panel.

If you go to a conference in hopes of meeting new readers and selling books, a smaller conference is better--unless you are a mega-author. At any conference you will be in competition with other writers.

One thing I've learned over the years is to be friendly and helpful. This is a good way to make friends.

You'll never make back the money with book sales that you've spent on registration, hotels and travel--but if you go someplace new you've never seen before and you have a good time while you're there, I think it's worth it.

What is it you look for in a conference or convention?



Mike Dennis said...

Good post, Marilyn. What I'm looking for right now is for some of these conventions to be held in hotels that charge less than $200/night. This last Bouchercon at the Hyatt in Indianapolis was right around $200 (including all the hidden charges). Next year's in San Francisco, the hotel is asking $249 (read: $300). Left Coast Crime, $200. I mean, if we were CEOs of oil companies, maybe it would make sense, but it seems to me the conference organizers might take this into account instead of cavalierly installing us in these estate-busting properties.

I know, I know, you don't have to stay there. But we all know what a hassle it is to stay elsewhere. I refuse to believe that the only hotels that can accommodate these conferences are the ultra-expensive ones.

Or am I just whining over something that's no big deal?

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Agreed! I only attend writer's conferences if I am speaking. (And they really aren't great places to sell books - for some odd reason, writers don't buy books!)

I always attend Book 'Em in Virginia and if they ever get Book Expo out of NY again, I will go back to that one.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Mike, the hotel for the PSWA conference is way cheaper than the ones you're writing about. Check it out. (Las Vegas, you know.)

And Diane, writers buy a lot of books at the PSWA con.


Morgan Mandel said...

I always like conferences with editors and agents in attendance. I'm going to Spring Fling at the end of April, where we'll have both.

Next year, it's Love is Murder.

Morgan Mandel