Once again, I’m looking at at what I learned from my most recent public appearance as a professional writer. I spent the weekend of 15-17 January at Marscon in Williamsburg, VA, and in addition to having a great time, I learned a few things about going on the road. You can read lessons 1-5 here. But right now, let’s jump into #6 and go straight through to the end.
Lesson #6 – Take care of yourself at the con! I can’t emphasize this enough. I had to man my author table from all during then day then turn around and spend three hours each night participating in panels. Not that I’m complaining! But that’s a lot of work and an exhausting schedule. Most of my panels were scheduled to start at 10PM and didn’t end until 1AM, so I was up very late both Friday and Saturday night. Between that and the hours I needed to spend at my table actively selling my books, my chances of going out for a meal were mostly screwed. However, I was smart enough to bring a few groceries to the con, so I always had some healthy snacks on hand (a lot of people kept asking, “What are you planning to do with that bannana, young lady?” “Oh, it’s part of my act,” I’d reply). I also made sure I had plenty of water with me, since hotels get pretty dry. So I managed to eat and drink no matter how crazy my schedule was, and that went a long way toward me not passing out around 11PM during a panel. Very important to keep in mind.
Lesson #7 – Bring a power strip. I really could have used one of these this weekend. I brought both my cell phone and my netbook, expecting to use them both. Problem was, my hotel room didn’t offer much in the way of electrical outlets. They were all tucked behind large pieces of furniture, making them damned near impossible to reach. The one I could reach without rearranging the room was cracked and warped so badly I couldn’t plug either the phone or the laptop into it. That meant I had no cell phone and no netbook for most of the weekend, which sort of sucked. Next year I’m bringing a power strip with a surge supressor so that I can be certain to have outlets that I can reach and thus have a charged netbook and cell phone. ‘Nuff said.
Lesson #8 – Bring a friend along! When a friend of mine heard I was going to Marscon, she mentioned she wanted to go too. I just happened to have an extra bed in my room, so I offered it and she accepted. This worked out really well. Jett not only bought me dinner Saturday night, she also helped me lug around my box of books and promo and helped me set up and break down each day. Plus she showed up to almost every panel I was on, which gave me the warm fuzzies like you wouldn’t believe. It’s nice to have friends who support everything you do, and Jett just made the weekend so much easier and nicer than I ever could have imagined.
Lesson #9 – One author can do a little, 6 authors can do a lot. I was not the only erotica author at Marscon last weekend. J.M. Snyder, Treva Harte, Kathryn Lively, and Sapphire Phelan were there too. I made sure of it. For the last three years now, I’ve coordinated with Marscon and EPIC Virginia to ensure that there are a group of e-published authors at the convention. It means a little more work for me than if I just went on my own, but the benefits more than make up for it. For starters, one erotica author by herself wouldn’t warrent an entire track of adult-themed programming. But six authors, especially when two of them are publishers of spec fic erotica and erotic romance? That definitely deserves a special track. By going as a group, we were able to do a series of panels on e-publishing and writing speculative fiction erotica and romance. In return, we got guest status at the con, our bios in the program book, a chance to talk to readers, and a late night reading. We were also able to split the cost of author tables to keep expenses down, and by sharing the tables we were better able to fill them, making it look like we really meant serious business (which we did). Together, we were just bigger and better than we would have been on our own.
Lesson #10 – Stuff happens. There was actually supposed to be one more author with us at Marscon – Beth Wylde. Beth is one of the best I’ve seen at public appearances, and we had a blast working together last year. She had signed up for this year, but had an unexpected emergency the night before and couldn’t make it. In years past, I might have panicked, but I’ve learned that something will always go wrong at a convention. Rather than pull my hair out, I talked to the other authors and we made arrangements to fill in for Beth’s panels. It’s a shame she wasn’t able to make it, because she really would have been a hit again this year. But we were able to work around that. And Beth, if you’re reading this, I hope everything is going well now and I’ve already got you on the list for next year!