I've been reading all sorts of blog post about Bouchercon and I know that Billie went and also Wendy--when are you going to let us go how it went?
I've been to several Bouchercons and had a great time at all of them. They can be overwhelming however, in that there are so many people, it's hard to find those you know. Because I had a good friend who was published by a major publisher, I learned early on that the big name writers have special parties to attend that are put on by their publishers and dinners with their agents. But there is plenty for everyone to do without having the extra parties.
Bouchercon is not a place to learn about writing, its purpose is to revere the mystery genre and those who write mysteries. And believe me, it is a thrill to hear your favorite mystery writers talk about all sorts of intriguing subjects. It also isn't a place where an unknown writer or author from a small press is going to sell many books. In the first place, you have to find one of the bookstores who is willing to sell your book on consignment and they will want 40%. If that's the discount you got from your publisher when you bought the book, you aren't going to make any money on the few you sell.
If you are lucky enough to be on a panel you should have some books in the book room, because there will be some readers who hear you on the panel and want to read your book. I've made some fans in exactly this way.
I will be headed to San Francisco for the 2010 Bouchercon--it's in my own backyard so to speak and I'm planning on getting there via the train.
However, if you want to go to a writer's conference where you can learn more about the craft of writing, and especially about writing about crime, and how to promote the books you already have, and sell your books with only 10% going to the organization, then plan on coming to the Public Safety Writers Association in June of 2010 in Las Vegas. And if you want to be on a panel, all you have to do is say so on your registration form. The Early Bird registration fee runs out on October 31, so get signed up quickly. http://www.publicsafetywriter.com