Thursday, September 15, 2011

On Conventions and Conferences

Seeing Jenna's post about she and Billie going to Bouchercon this weekend gave me a tinge of regret. Bouchercon is an experience every author should have. One thing people don't always realize is that Bouchercon is as much for fans--maybe even more--than it is for mystery writers.

Bouchercon is the biggest mystery event there is, meaning it has the biggest name mystery writers and the most people attending. I went to last year's in San Francisco and had a marvelous time. It can be a bit overwhelming because of the number of people.

Bouchercon is a great place to talk to other writers and meet fans--for an author with a small press it isn't the place to sell a lot of books. I didn't even try last year. My goal was to have a good time--and I did.

Left Coast Crime is also a convention--not quite as big or as intimidating as Bouchercon. Last year it was in New Mexico, and Oak Tree's own Michael Orenduff won the prestigious Lefty award. 2012's LCC is being held in Sacramento, and yes, I'm already signed up for that one.

Thrilller Writers have a convention too, so far it's always been in New York. 

Romance writers have two huge conventions every year, one put on by Romantic Times and the other by Romance Writers of America. I've never been so can't really comment on what they are like except to say I know both are really expensive to attend.

A conference is an event where you got to learn something. Though there are panels and speakers at conventions that impart wisdom, a lot of what's going on is a showcase for authors and that's why the fans go to see and hear their favorites.

A conference like PSWA is geared to help writers of all kinds, mystery, non-fiction, etc. It is a writers conference.

This weekend I'll be an instructor at the Central Coast Writers Conference in San Luis Obispo, my topics Mystery Writing 101, and The Importance of Setting, or Where the Heck Are We? Lots of stuff is going on around the conference too.

We'll be having dinner tonight with mystery authors Victoria Heckman and Sue McGinty and their significant others. Tomorrow the conference begins. Saturday is the day I give my classes, and that night there is a special party for all those who worked at the conference.

Sunday is the Central Coast Book and Author Festival where I'll have a table with my books--and a few other OTP authors will too. I'm giving a talk at 11 on Where I Get My Ideas.

So if you never knew before, that's the difference between a convention and a conference.

What you get out of any of these events is really up to you. It's important that you talk to everyone and not just hang out with friends. Have cards with your book cover on one side and information about you and your book on the other and give them out to everyone.

Those of you at Bouchercon, have a great time!



thesis writing said...

Interesting info!
Thanks for sharing!

C.K.Crigger said...

Marilyn, you always give out great information. I think OTP needs to name you "cheerleader extraordinaire."

For western writers, by the way, there is the yearly Western Writers of America convention, where the annual Spur awards are presented. You might be surprised to learn that mysteries set in the west often come out ahead. Just ask Craig Johnson,for instance. Anyway, in June, 2012, the organization will meet in Albuquerque, and we'd love to see more fans attend.

Two Feet Below

BillieJohn said...

Marilyn, thanks for your usual fine post. I am jealous of you being at the SLO events! I was there last year and loved it! And I do think it is really important for our authors to get to a conference and/or convention as often as practicable. My take-away is always good, even if I just collect a list of "never do THAT" ideas! Being around other people who write and love books is just the best way to spend a weekend, IMO.

There are lots of conferences and workshops and seminars directed at publishers, and I have gone to some, and learned some things...but for pure pleasure, it's writing conferences where I keep going back!


WS Gager said...

Great post Marilyn! I wanted to go to Bouchercon but couldn't swing it in the budget. Opted to go to two smaller conferences closer by. I wish I had things closer to Michigan! I did go to Kerrytown Book Festival last weekend and heard Louise Penny. That was neat!
W.S. Gager on Writing

dissertation help said...

very cool post! thanks!

Patricia Gligor said...

Very informative post. I agree with W.S. Gager who wrote, "I wish I had things closer to Michigan." I wish there were more writers conferences closer to Cincinnati.
We only have one that doesn't require an overnight stay for me, the Mad Anthony Writers Conference in Hamilton, Ohio, which I've attended. I've also been to the Columbus Writers Conference but had to spend a night; that can be expensive.