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Point of View: 8 Tips to Prepare for a Successful Con

Scott GRL prep

OK, so GRL is officially just two weeks and a couple days away, and I am TOTALLY FREAKING OUT. There’s too much to do! I’ve done cons before, but there’s always a bit of last minute preparation, and this one is no different.

So I thought I’d share with you a bit of what I do, have done and will do to prepare for a con like this.

1. Book Your Hotel Early: Most of these cons offer a discounted hotel rate, but these often have limited availability. Book early to have the best shot at these low rates – otherwise it’s gonna cost you.

2. Pin Down Your Swag: You wanna give something away to your readers when they stop by to se your smiling face. But we can’t all be as cool as Angel Martinez and her anti-gravity cows. So this year, for QSF, we came up with a couple cool button slogans courtesy of contest winner Leigh Nunan. I am thrilled with the results, and they have become the heart of our planed swag contest.

For my own personal swag, I got cards to give out with my website address, which will direct folks to where they can buy my eBooks if they decide one of my printed ones is too heavy a burden to bear on the plane ride home.

3. Get Your Table Art: If you’re gonna have a table, you need to have something that shows folks who you are and what you do. This year, I ordered a cool new table runner with the QSF logo, and put together some signage for the table top too. It will give us a more professional look, and can be re-used going forward for other cons.

4. Pin Down Your Schedule: There are always great things to do at these cons – dances and dinners and games and the like – as soon as the schedule is published go over it and figure out where you need to be each hour, and find someone to cover your table when you can’t be there.

5. Get Your Books in a Row: Which books will you take to sell at the con? How many are you likely to sell? Talk to other authors who have attended this particular con before to get an idea of how many copies you should take, and then figure out how to get them there. You can usually ship to the host facility, but then you run the risk of your stuff getting lost in the pile (ask Angel about that one). If you know anyone in the area, see if they would be willing to take delivery for you.

6. Listen to Your Middle of the Night Voices: If you are like me, you get some of your best ideas in the middle of the night, when your writer brain wakes you up and tells you things that just couldn’t wait until morning. For me, this applies to cons too. When this happens, get up and write down the ideas so a) you won’t forget them, and b) your writer brain will shut the hell up and let you sleep.

7. Be Ready for the Emergencies: There will be unexpected twists and turns and crises and emergencies at some point during the process – most likely the day before you head out to the con, or at the exact moment when you arrive. You can’t plan for every possible contingency, but you can be ready to roll with things when they take a turn for the ridiculous, terrifying or ugly. Remember, this too shall pass. I recommend Oreo and Wild Cherry Pepsi therapy.

8. Plan to Have a Good Time: When all is said and done, you’re gonna have a great time – you are going to a con with a bunch of friends and potential friends – people like you who do what you do or read it. So take a deep breath, relax, and enjoy yourself.

So what do you do to prepare for a con?