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Posts tagged with: reader conferences

Reader Cons

Have you ever attended a reader-oriented conference? One that is centered around readers instead of writers? For the first ten years of my writing career, I only attended writer conferences (Moonlight & Magnolia, RWA, etc), but recently I’ve branched out to reader conferences. They are so much fun! Really, they are a weekend full of parties, but they are also so much more.

Last weekend I attended my first Shameless Book Con down in Orlando, Florida. It was a blast! A cocktail party Friday night, an all-day book signing on Saturday, a huge after-signing gala on Saturday night, and a fun Candy & Spoons event on Sunday.

This was a time to meet and get to know readers and to network with my fellow authors and book industry folks. Now that I am published, these reader-centered conferences are an extremely important part of marketing me as a writer. I came away with new friends, readers, and fabulous memories. I was able to get to know the people at my publishing house with whom I work. I was able to find kindred spirits in my fellow authors and set up ways we can help each other promote. I met book bloggers and sold twenty-eight books at the signing. All of this in a space of three days!

Okay – so here is the key to success at these types of events. You need to step outside your comfort zone. Unless you are a comfortable extrovert, all of these events can take their toll.

So I:

  1. Brought my husband with me and asked him to wear his kilt to the cocktail party and his stilts to the Saturday night gala (the theme was Side Show Carnival, and he ended up winning the costume contest!).
  2. Practiced my makeup for the gala (I was a human rose) at home several times and created our costumes.
  3. Brought fun outfits for each event and props/swag for the book signing.
  4. Put together and lugged a huge giveaway basket down with me to Orlando on the train.
  5. Made it a point to go to everything, smiling and chatting. I walked up to people I didn’t know and sat next to complete strangers at breakfast and lunch.
  6. Helped my publishing house set up their event and made certain to leave each person I met feeling a bit better about themselves (everyone deserves a compliment or a show of interest). 

For a closet introvert like me, this took its toll. I am now sick with a horrendous head cold. But I’m back in the comfort of my home behind my computer screen wearing comfy yoga pants and drinking chai lattes. And I have fond memories, networking contacts, a new signing-table BFF for next year’s conference, fifty-one new readers for my newsletter list, more followers on FB and twitter, and fabulous new readers of my books. All-in-all, the conference was totally worth the exhaustion and head cold! And I’m already signed up to attend next year where it will be held at Disney World!

Have you ever attended a Reader Conference before? Which ones? Do you feel it was worth it?

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