RomCon – The cost versus the benefits of a writer/reader convention.

203479_273432576096502_1479568094_nI recently attended the RomCon in Denver. The cost of travelling, accommodations, registration, food reached to nearly $2,500. Was it worth it?

So far, I’d have to say in monetary return – not yet. That is, unless the connections I made translates into a sudden burst of sales at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

In terms of a useful experience, yes. The speakers ranged from terrible to great. The organization of the event could have been better. The accommodation was poor (I froze in some of the lecture rooms and my room flooded from a leak in the ceiling, etc.) Did I have fun? Yes, mostly. Did I learn anything about writing and marketing? Not as much as I hoped.

What was good:

  1. I met some amazing authors
    • Barbara Vey, http://barbaravey.com/aboutbarbara/
    • Cherry Adair, http://cherryadair.com/
    • Rebecca Grace, http://www.rebeccagrace.com/index.html
    • Jennifer Zane, http://jenniferzane.com/  http://jenniferzane.com/cover-design/
    • Marsha West, http://www.marsharwest.com/
    • Debra Holland, http://drdebraholland.com/
  2. Excellent presentations on character development, plot workshop, cover design workshop, the value of independent publishing, and writing sex scenes.
  3. Entertainment: My favorite event was the Mimosa Madness. Authors participated in a social event wherein participants had to complete a bingo-like card. The fun in finding the author to match the description on the card made way for a crazy and zany hour of getting to know everyone. The prizes were terrific. And the mimosa, yummy!
  4. Facility (Crown Plaza Airport): food was tasty and served quickly

What could have been better:

  1. Speakers should stay on topic(some speakers strayed off topic half the time)
  2. Speakers should allow time for questions
  3. Audio / visual equipment in working order
  4. Sound system improvement (echos distract and make comprehension difficult)
  5. Ensure lecture room temperatures are comfortable
  6. Improve registration – ensure registrants are greeted upon arrival and understand procedures (I arrived Thursday early evening but no one had info or handouts; the next morning the registration felt chaotic)
  7. The book signing event could have been two evenings instead of one short event.

One of my favorite memories:

I met Kasi and Jerrie Alexander, fellow authors published by Omnific Publishing

The worst:

My main goal was to gain insight into marketing techniques. Lo and behold, that was the worst lecture. The author talked about her experience with online dating service. I waited for the real meat and potatoes on marketing. It never came. Ugh!

Some people have no class. I’m  no prude but watching women shouting and waving a dildo around is just plain rude and vulgar. There’s a place for sex toys (I have a few, lol).

My Advice:

  1. If you are considering attending a writers convention, and you should, do a little more research than I did. Check out the history of the organization that is planning the event. Find comments from attendees or any other reports on its success or challenges.
  2. Try to find an event close to home. Travelling costs can be stressful. You might not get your money’s worth in terms of sales, connections, academic results, or whatever your personal goals are.
  3. For upcoming writer’s conventions, ask what the theme or focus will be. Will it be more directed towards marketing, indie authors, traditional marketing, book promotions, lectures for new authors or experienced authors, etc. Determine your personal expectation and goals and then see if the convention lines up with your needs.
  4. Find out who will be the guest speakers / lecturers. Are they experienced authors who write in your preferred genre?
  5. If you have a published novel(s), bring a few print copies for signing and sale. Even if the event does not schedule a book sale / signing, you can have a few copies available to share with fans or giveaway. Include other items like bookmarks (though I found readers are not too excited about receiving these from several hundred authors).
  6. Create a poster of your novel, and have the printer place it on foam-core, or whatever you find suitable for you. Make the image eye catching and just enough info the attendees get a ‘feel’ for the heart and soul of your novel. They won’t stop to read a whole paragraph, so be creative and succinct.
  7. If there is a meal plan option, sign up for it. Some of my best connections and information gathering was during meals. You’ll meet other authors and readers all of whom can inspire you and pass along valuable information. And it’s in a fun and relaxing environment.
  8. If there is an invitation to participate in a panel discussion or host an event – DO IT! You’ll be in front of a ton of readers and they will remember you, especially if you present yourself well. Some authors are introverts and have a hard time speaking in public. Get over this!
  9. After the event and you’ve returned home, touch base with people with whom you enjoyed and shared laughs and ideas. Look up their facebook pages, websites, etc. and say “Hello, it was fun meeting you,” or whatever.

I’m attending one more writer’s convention this year. It’s the When Words Collide in Calgary, Alberta, August 8-10. The cost will be small as it’s only a short drive from home and a bunch of us authors are sharing the cost. Finger crossed this event will prove to be worth it.

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3 thoughts on “RomCon – The cost versus the benefits of a writer/reader convention.

  1. This raises an interesting question: Does the cost of the entire trip (air, hotel, etc.) impact how critically one judges a con? If someone who lived in Denver (in RomCon’s case) and only paid for registration, will he/she have different expectations and outcomes than someone who came from across the country? I’m headed to RWA next week with a large travel expense. Does this mean I should have a greater rate of return (people I meet, what I learn, sales, etc) than one in my own town?

    Food for thought only.

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  2. If I may respond to your comment, Betsy. Thank you for expressing your thoughts. In my opinion, all conference participants should expect to receive quality. If I know ahead of time that a conference is more of a party than an opportunity to learn, then I won’t be disappointed, unless the party is boring. However, if there is an expectation to learn about marketing techniques, I’m not going to by happy about spending a great amount of money if that speaker focuses on her trials with online dating. In a few weeks I’m going to another authors/readers convention where my expenses are minimal. I still expect quality. I expect it to be well organized, speakers stay on subject, and that the advertised objectives of the convention are actually delivered.

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