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!