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Point of View: Five Things You Have to Do Before a Con

Scott swag

We’re getting ready to go to Nijicon next weekend in Philadelphia, so I thought this would be a great time to go over the steps we take to get ourselves ready for a writer con.

1) Shave. And Shower. Seriously. We all get wrapped up in our writing, sitting in our little writer caves, and many of us work a second (and sometimes third) job to pay the bills to allow us the ability to write. And it’s easy to forget to comb your hair, put on clothes, and wear deodorant like a regular person every morning when you get up. So before you head off to the con, take a good look in the mirror and try to see yourself the way your fans will see you. If the sight of your unkempt self puts you off your breakfast, you may have some work to do.

2) Plan Your Weekend: When the con schedule comes out, sit down and spend a little quality time with it. Excel is my best friend here – I use it to make a schedule with dates and times and locations -but you can also fall back on a pad of paper. Whatever works for you. Figuring out which panels you’re on, which ones you want to attend, and what else you want to do in advance can save you tons of heartache at the con, and can help you avoid double booking.

3) Get Your Swag On: You’re going to a con to meet your adoring fans – and you want to have something to give them to remember you by, right? You can do so many things here, limited only by your time, imagination and budget. If you were Oprah, you could get each of them a new car, wrapped with the cover of your latest book.

But if you’re reading this, you’re probably NOT Oprah. So how about some cards with your cover? Or some buttons with a picture of your hero and a pithy comment or tag line? “I’m sending you back to hell, Bitsy!” Something they can take home and cuddle with in your absence.

We’ve seen some amazing swag, including earrings with book covers and dragon pins to promote a fantasy novel. Be creative!

4) Give Yourself Some Play Time: You’re in a new city, probably far away from where you live. So unless the city is the ugliest city in the world, consider tacking on a day or two to your trip to see the sites. Be a tourist – see the Liberty Bell, the Statue of Liberty, the world’s largest ball of twine. It’s all grist for the writing machine!

5) Remind Yourself Why You Write: This last one may be the most important of all. You got into writing for a reason. If you’re like me, it’s because you have an almost pathological NEED to write. And who do you write for? Your readers.

So psych yourself up. You’re about to go meet some of the people who make what you do possible. Get excited, enjoy your time in the spotlight, and give the fans what they want – you. You’ll be back in your writer cave soon enough.

So how do YOU prepare for a con?