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Have You Ever Attended a Convention Poll

Have you ever attended a convention?

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Book Expo America is underway. It is one of the largest (if not the largest) trade shows for the publishing business.   For those of us stuck at home, we can follow along the attendees activities on twitter by searching the hashtag #bea09.   

Conventions are a mainstay of the science fiction/fantasy genre but only in the past few years have various romance related conventions started up.   Lora Leigh has a very popular reader appreciation weekend called RAW and Lori Foster hosts a similar reader/writer convention.   There is the RT convention I just attended and the RWA convention in DC coming up in July.   Have you attended a convention and if so did you enjoy it?Would you go again?   What are you looking for in terms of a convention?

For me, I’m more interested in the cutting edge of publishing so I plan to attend Tools of Change next year and possibly BEA.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Karen
    May 28, 2009 @ 21:45:43

    One of the reasons the Celebrate Romance conference was started was to have a reader-focused conference, similar to the sci-fi and fantasy conferences. Several of the people who organized the first CR had been to sci-fi conventions and wanted something similar for romance. Most of the other romance conferences are focused on specific authors or on writers and aspiring writers. (Even RT has become very writer-oriented.) There didn’t seem to be anything for readers. Unfortunately, last year’s CR was probably the last one, but it was fun while it lasted.

  2. Edith
    May 28, 2009 @ 22:08:49

    I go to the US-based SF Worldcons (approx every other year). I’ve become addicted since I went to my first one 7 years ago.

    The array of activities and panels, the multitude of authors are mind-boggling and addicting. If romance readers decide to start holding them, it will take them a long time to catch up with SF cons. I gather it takes a lot of organizational & budgeting expertise to do it. The SF folks who do it are all VOLUNTEERS and end up spending a lot of their own money to promote them!

    If any of you read SF, I highly recommend going to one Worldcon, just to see what you’re missing. The next one is going to be in Montreal and the guest of honor is Neil Gaiman. He’s quite entertaining in person.

  3. Julieb
    May 29, 2009 @ 01:08:44

    I’m a conrunner and Edith is right. It takes a lot of work to get a con up and running and keep it going from year to year. The fan-run conventions are a great value. A full price ticket generally runs $50 or less, and that will gain you admittance to darn near everything. Buy tickets far enough in advance, and you can attend some events for $20. Some of these events are fairly small – 500 or so in attendance – but still manage to pull in some big name authors.

    There is some crossover between SF and romance. I know several romance writers who write SF, and vice-versa. These conventions could be a good opportunity to meet a favorite author.

    Some conventions also have a pretty strong track aimed at writers and aspiring writers. I’m sitting on a panel on writing scams at a convention soon. There are panels on world building, characterization, how to submit manuscripts, the art of self-promotion, you name it. Some conventions also have writer’s workshops. Even if SF isn’t your favorite genre, you may find enough “nuts and bolts” panels and workshops to make it well worth your time to attend.

  4. jmc
    May 29, 2009 @ 05:51:45

    I’ve gone to professional conferences, but not conventions per se. But I am going to RWA this year; since it’s in DC, I have no excuse not to attend.

  5. Kat
    May 29, 2009 @ 06:08:15

    Went to my first ever convention in February. For the first romance reader convention in Australia, ARRC 09 was very well run. Three of us live-tweeted the panels, and a few more blogged about it. I’d definitely do it again (next year in Sydney, if all goes to plan). I’d love to go to the academic conference in Brissie this year, but it’s not looking promising. What I expect from a good convention is mainly interesting discussions, whether they be in the panels or with random strangers during the social events.

  6. Kalen Hughes
    May 29, 2009 @ 08:21:58

    I’ve gone to both conferences (such as RWA’sv and Costume Con) and conventions (such as World Con and Pirate Con). I’ve discovered I’m not a big fan of the “con”. I enjoy the professional networking at RWA’s conference, and I love all the hands-on workshops and history at Costume Con (note, we’re not in costume for the conference), but I’m not so big on the dress up and party aspect of fan-based cons. Though I may try on RT one of these years . . .

  7. Jessica Kennedy
    May 29, 2009 @ 08:31:05

    Yup. I went to BEA 2 yrs ago in NYC for work. I worked for NBN, a book distributor. I managed our participation at the show. Yes, 30 booths, I managed them. Craziness. I know allllll about trade shows. I also managed our attendance at ALA and other regional shows.

    I’m going to BEA tomorrow for fun! :)

  8. DS
    May 29, 2009 @ 09:06:26

    I’ve been to several SF cons. Once I just happened to end up in a hotel in Memphis where a SF con was being held. Midsouthcon? I immediately paid the door admission price and had a great time when I wasn’t supposed to be doing something serious. When I didn’t have the money I had plenty of time. Now that I have the money I have no time.

    Professional conferences? At least twice a year, sometimes more– not nearly as much fun.

    Romance conferences? Never have.

  9. Angie
    May 29, 2009 @ 09:27:03

    I’ve never been to a romance convention, but I’ve attended dozens of SF conventions, worked a few dozen, and chaired a couple.

    For anyone thinking of trying an SF convention, note that there’s a huge difference between the fan-fun conventions and the professionally run cons (usually put on by Creation Inc. — Creation Con, One Ring Con, etc.) The commercial cons exist for the sole purpose of sucking money out of your pocket, and there’s a separate charge for just about anything, down to and including getting an autograph from a guest. :/ Fan-run conventions, in addition to having cheaper admission prices from the get-go, only very rarely have extra-cost activities, and they’re clearly activities with extra expenses to run, such as a dinner, or a workshop with materials costs. Which isn’t to say you can’t have a good time at a commercial convention, but be aware of what you’re getting into and of what all of it will cost.


  10. Patricia
    May 29, 2009 @ 09:49:34

    I loved the Celebrate Romance cons. Thanks to Karen, Leanne & Cybil (& others) for their dedication in planning & holding these wonderful once-a-year weekends.

  11. Julieb
    May 29, 2009 @ 10:28:07

    Angie is so right. I know people who got burned on the whole experience after attending a big media con, and then I know people who willingly fork over the money and have a great time. To each their own.

    One big advantage of the fan-run conventions is that the guests are generally more accessible. They’ll take the time to talk with you while they sign a book, and most enjoy hanging out at the evening parties.

  12. michelle in colorado
    May 29, 2009 @ 11:08:56

    My family makes MileHiCon in Denver into a mini family reunion. The ones that can fly in and we all go to the Con. The nice part is because we stay at the Hotel no one has to clean house.

  13. Jules Jones
    May 29, 2009 @ 15:38:50

    Been to plenty of fan-run sf cons over the years, and usually been one of the volunteers, although I have so far managed to run away fast enough whenever anyone looked like press-ganging me onto a concom. I’ve done three Worldcons now, and regularly attend smaller ones, both litcons and media cons.

    It’s a great opportunity to be a fangirl, but I mostly go to meet up in meatspace with my friends. One of the interesting things about being active in a couple of sf writer hangouts online is that nowadays I can combine these two activities. :-)

  14. Evangeline
    May 29, 2009 @ 19:24:58

    @Karen: That’s sad! I think the romance genre would be better served to have more conventions than RT and RWA (though I know Lori Foster has one, and Sherrilyn Kenyon started one for her readers).

  15. Anne Douglas
    May 31, 2009 @ 05:47:10

    I’m kinda clueless when it comes to all the cons and meetups and all the rest. I’ve seen the live twitters of BEA and errr… the technology one and wondered why I didn’t know of these things, I’d have loved to have gone.

    Is there any one place you can go where all these cons are listed? Or even just all the romance /writing industry inclined ones?

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