Going Public: Conventions

Note: don’t forget to breathe. Also: don’t tilt your head down like I did, unless you’re fine with showing off your extra chins.

So!  My first official convention as an author rather than a fan went well, all told!  FOGcon was a very good place to start, as it’s a relatively small convention attendance-wise, so I didn’t feel overwhelmed by standing up in front of any large crowds.

A few things I learned:

–Dress for the occasion. What I wore is actually pretty conservative for a typical SF/F con, but my Diesel Sweeties ‘Almost There’ shirt went over well with a lot of people, including one of the hotel bartenders!

–Keep well hydrated, especially if you’re doing a reading.  There’s a bottle of water hiding behind my book in that picture there, which came in handy.

–You will always end up reading faster than you think; remember to slow..it..down.  I forgot this and zipped along at quite a pace, according to Amanda.

–Noted: remember to say what you’re reading and give it a bit of a preface.  Due to my nerves I’d completely forgotten to do so.  D’OH.  Thankfully I had my book front and center, so I’m sure most in the room understood that’s what I was reading from.

–Reading in small rooms means you don’t have to shout; however, it’s also good to remember to enunciate and project regardless.  Try to remember to keep your chin up when reading; tilting your head down tends to muffle a person’s voice a bit.  [Yup, sort of failed here too.  Didn’t think about it until about halfway through.]

–Important:  even though I made those couple of mistakes?  I’m far from a failure.  I read my piece and got a positive response, and that’s all that really matters.

–With some conventions (like this one), you’re not doing readings alone.  This works well on multiple levels: you can choose to go last if you need that extra bit of self-preparation; you’re not up front and completely on your own; that little bit of camaraderie between authors before the panel starts really does help calm you down; and if someone in the audience is there to see their friend read, they’ll be there to hear you as well.  This last bit nicely quashes any worries that you’ll read to an empty room!

–Some are picky about it, but really, don’t worry about it:  if you want to put your book up for all to see, by all means, go for it.  I stood mine up and kept a few of my flyers next to it.  As long as you’re not doing the Shameless Salesman thing every other sentence.

–On a completely random note:  About halfway through the day, it suddenly occurred to me that, since I was now a panelist, I’d leveled up and could now visit the Con Suite if I wanted.  [I didn’t, but con suites (aka the green rooms) are quite excellent for unplugging from crowds and refueling with snacks if needed!]


And as for being on panels where you chat about a subject instead of reading?  I’d say that by far was the least stressful thing this weekend.  I was part of a panel about Self-Publishing and Marketing Strategies with three other people of varying levels of success.  [I lightened the mood by introducing myself as being a total DIY writer who’s using the Indiana Jones method of marketing strategy: “I dunno, I’m just making it up as I go along.”  That got a chuckle from the room, as I’d hoped!]  Again: talk with your other panelists before the show starts, get to know them a little and gauge how they’ll perform and what points they might hit, so you can adjust your delivery accordingly.  Keep a bottle of water nearby.  Again, no need for shameless self-promotion, but if you use your book as a prop in the point you’re trying to make, that’s fine.  [I spoke a little about visibility of covers, pointing out how I deliberately used certain colors to make them stand out.]

Granted, I lucked out in that I’m fine with speaking with large groups.  I’m always a little nervous about being the center of attention, but I pushed past that the best I could.  As the panel went on, I became more comfortable talking with both the panelists and with the audience — it felt less like putting on a performance and more like having a fun and super geeky conversation with a bunch of other like-minded people.

Will I do it again?

Hell yes!! 🙂

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