I'm often asked by new authors what they should expect at a book conference. It can be a rather daunting experience if you're not prepared. Lori's event was the first conference I attended as a new author. It was a great experience. I meet a lot of new people, sold a few books, and got my feet wet in the world of book conferences.
If you've never been to a conference before, there are a few things you should think about before you get there.
- Find out how many attendees there will be. This is important not only so you have an idea of who many people will be mingling about over the course of the event, but also plan for any swag you might want to bring along with you.
- Swag. Have SOMETHING you can give to readers when you meet them. This can be anything from a bookmark or a post card to a keychain or even a fan. It just needs to be something that will remind whomever you're talking to about you and your books.
-Find your readers. Once you arrive at the conference, look at the agenda. Whenever you have free time on your own schedule (i.e. your not hosting or participating in events of your own) find the events that match most with your readers and then go check them out. Mingle with readers. Listen to other authors within similar genres talk about their writing and their books. You can use all this to connect with readers who will want to read YOUR books.
-Know the rules. Every conference is different. Lori's is very laid back, which is one of the reasons I love it so much. There are activities going on throughout the weekend, but it's not as regulated as some of the conferences I've attended. At Lori's event, there are two book signing events, but that doesn't mean authors can't sign or sell books at other times during the conference. However, I have been to conferences where this is an issue and the organizers only want authors signing during designated times.
- Smile and have fun. I've found that many of the same people will attend a conference year after year. They build friendships. Keep that in mind when you're thinking about which conferences to attend. I've found that there is a benefit to picking a few conferences you like and making the effort to go every year. Word of mouth can help you build a fan base that will spread.