Saturday, February 5, 2011

Organizing for a Conference

Cape FearToday, I’m attending the Cape Fear Crime Festival in Wilmington, NC.

This will be my second visit to this conference. I really enjoyed it the last time I attended—there was a nice camaraderie between the authors, I enjoyed the library location, Wilmington is pretty and walkable…and I’m not too far away to drive.

As soon as I find out the time for my panel, I make the hotel reservations. If I have, for instance, an 8 a.m. panel and I’ve got a drive that takes hours, then I’ll stay the night before the panel instead of the night following it. Or vice versa. Helps to save a little money.

If the hotel I’m staying at doesn’t have a free continental breakfast, I’ll usually take something that doesn’t have to be refrigerated that I can eat for breakfast. I’m a big believer in breakfast. :)

I do always try to have either lunch or supper or both with other authors…it’s really where I have the most fun and have more of an opportunity to visit.

I keep all my receipts in an envelope so I’ll be prepared at tax time.

If I’m traveling on the same day I’m attending the conference (like I am today), I wear something that won’t wrinkle too badly. I like jersey knits for that. I wore linen once…ha! :) I don’t know what possessed me.

As I mentioned in a previous post, it’s a good idea to come prepared with giveaways—bookmarks, business cards, small giveaways. I’ve seen authors bring personalized note pads, luggage tags, lip gloss, computer monitor cleaners….just all kinds of swag. I usually don’t go really over the top with stuff because it’s hard to tote around—and because it’s expensive. But at Malice Domestic, I did bring potholders with a BBQ theme that had my business card tied on to them.

I make sure to bring water (just in case the organizers don’t provide it.) I’ll bring a nice pen to sign books with, and I find out what the set-up is for book sales. Sometimes an independent bookstore will be in charge of book sales---and sometimes I’ll need to bring my own books and small denominations of cash to make change with.

I’ll prepare in advance if I know my panel questions ahead of time. I try to stay on track with the question and have succinct answers. I have a tendency, actually, to be too succinct, so I try to plan for elaboration of my answer, if I need to (if the moderator is glaring at me, for instance, because of my brevity. :) )

If it’s a conference where I’m staying for a couple of days, then I will need to plan some down time in my hotel room. Otherwise, I tend to get a teensy bit on edge if I spend a whole lot of room with other people—even very nice people. And, although I’m very introverted in nature…I try to be outgoing at these events. In fact, most people who have met me think I’m outgoing. :) I’m apparently a great actress. There are several folks that are going to Cape Fear that I’m really interested in meeting…so I really will be outgoing today.

Are you planning on hitting any conferences this year? Have any tips?