Discussion- On Not Attending Conventions (yet)

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How excited I imagine everyone to be at the book cons

It’s that exciting time of year again- so many bookish conventions- TLA, BEA and a score of others. I love seeing the excitement in the community for these events and all the beautiful books people take home. I’ve yet to be to one of the larger conventions (I’ve been to Teen Book Con one year where I interviewed Kendare Blake–it was an amazing experience).

I had hoped to go to BEA this year but stuff in life came up unexpected so the money nor the time was available. I thought, I’ll go to TLA instead since it’s not far from me (about 3 hours) but turns out I’ll be registering my wee one for kindergarten so I had to skip on it as well. I feel a bit sad because some of my favorite bloggers, authors and publicists are attending. I’d love the opportunity to meet all of the lovely people I chat with so often. That’s not even considering the massive amount of books available as well.

I wondered, are you at a disadvantage as a blogger if you can’t make it to the large conventions (ok, the word disadvantage might not be the right word but I hope you see what I mean)? What all am I missing? I assume relationships are built and I’m curious how much behind the scenes you might learn if you attend the panels as well as the breakfasts, cocktail hours etc. To tell you the truth, I have trouble even picturing how it all goes down but I hope to find out one of these years.

Now I’ll admit something to you all, I am actually at tiny bit relieved I’m not going because when I think about all the socializing and meeting everyone in person it gets my nerves sizzling. It sounds like so much fun and it is hard to sit on the sidelines watching but at the same time -the idea actually scares me. I find it so much easier to communicate in written form than in person so if you do see me at a signing or convention I find it so much more difficult to think of things to say.

My reading and blogging friends- have you attended? How has it been for you? Do you feel like it really changed your experience either as a reader or a blogger? I’m pretty confident many of you have posted about this topic so feel free (and encouraged) to drop a link so I can read about your

Comments

  1. says

    I’ve personally never gone to any (but I’m young, so I mean, I feel like that doesn’t really count) and probably unfortunately won’t ever be able to go to one. The thought of ever attending totally stresses me out because I’m so absolutely horrible at speaking to strangers and initiating conversation. But I definitely feel the envy come on multiple times a year when the cons happen. So many authors I want to meet and so many to discover! I always wonder how people manage to have the money to go to BEA every year, and then some people go to multiple cons every year, and I just want them to give me their job. Please.

    I kinda wonder what goes on, too – you obviously have all the books and all the panels and get to meet some of your favorite bloggers, but what else goes on behind the scenes, you know?

    • says

      I am so with you! I am so awkward and not good at small talk. I just sort of stand there and have zero to say. It’s hard to think of that beautiful hardcover you have not being signed by a favorite author but hopefully we’ll both get chances to go to book signings.

  2. says

    As you probably know, I’ve only been to BEA once, and that was just a few months after I started blogging, so I only “knew” a few bloggers, and I knew zero publicists. (I still know zero publicists.) I’ve developed a weird social anxiety over the last few years, so it was nice not knowing anyone that year. I felt like I could be invisible and just do my own thing.

    But now, the thought of going kind of scares me, because I “know” many more bloggers now, and I know I couldn’t be invisible anymore. It’s such a weird feeling, because I would LOVE to meet the wonderful people I’ve gotten to know online, but it also makes me anxious. And of course, you’re at the top of that list! I never used to be like this, so I am not quite sure how to handle these feelings. Avoidance seems to be my answer now.

    Based on what you’ve written, you might feel a bit overwhelmed by a huge convention like BEA. (J have no idea how the others compare.) But I’m sure you would have fun, too! You could decide beforehand what would make you feel most comfortable – going solo, buddying up with one person, or going with a larger group. For me, solo worked. The idea of a large group seems like “too much” for me. At BEA, there’s so much standing on line, so even if you were alone, there would always be a new group of people to talk, too. (Or to NOT talk to, if you preferred.) 🙂

    The parties and stuff would be out of my comfort zone. And plus, I was exhausted at the end of the day.

    Now, all that said, if I knew you were going to a convention, I would try my best to make myself go! 🙂

    • says

      Yep, I think avoidance is a great method! Since I talk to so many people on Twitter and through blog comments I’d get SO NERVOUS. I really can’t comprehend how amazing/scary/awesome/nerve-wracking the whole thing would be. The after parties don’t really appeal to me just because I don’t drink and yeah…I’m awkward. but like you said- I’d LOVE TO MEET YOU. We’d be nervous and awkward together!

  3. says

    I really, really want to go to BEA but I just don’t think it could get it to work with funds this year either. I am hoping to go to NerdCon Stories in Minneapolis this year. I am trying to find some other MN bloggers to see if I could meet up with them.
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

    • says

      I hope you get to go to NerdCon and have a great time! Next year TLA will be very near me so I bet I get to go. This is an exciting yet scary thought!

  4. says

    This year will be my third year but my first two experiences were totally different.

    When I went in 2012 I had only been blogging for a year, and I didn’t know *anyone.* So this presented its own challenges, like rooming with bloggers I didn’t really know. But it was also nice because I was pretty much anonymous and I could do my own thing throughout the day. At the same time, though, I don’t really think I took the most from the con that I could have, when compared to traveling with friends.

    The second time, I traveled and roomed with my best friends and co-bloggers and that turned out to be the best experience ever. I ended with a tighter schedule, support for when it got too overwhelming, and also more books since the 5 of us were working together! It was nerve-wracking being that social and I definitely needed a day or two to recover, but it was absolutely worth it.

    I don’t think that bloggers are at any real disadvantage by not going to these conventions. Sure, it’s nice to see people in real life that you’ve only even known on the internet, but I honestly didn’t have time to bond with anyone who wasn’t my immediate CLOSE friend. The week is so busy! As for the books, I definitely wouldn’t worry about it because you’re one of the bloggers who gets lots of review copies anyway. So you might not get them signed, but you’ll still be posting early reviews about the books people most want to read.

    I wouldn’t sweat it. BEA is a lot of fun, but then it’s over in three days and the world goes back to normal lol.

    • says

      I imagine meeting up with close friends would be a really fun experience, especially if you aren’t taking the book grabbing serious and you just go to enjoy it purely for the fun of friends and whatever you might grab. I really can’t imagine how tiring it must be. I heard the convention hall is HUGE and that sore feet are a given. I think I’d need a week to recover from all the social interaction! haha. It is weird that the experience only lasts for a few days but it shakes our community for such a length of time. Thank you for your insight!!

  5. says

    I’ve NEVER gone to a convention that involves knowing more than two bloggers O____O I know, right? I keep saying that I WANT to go but to be honest, i think it would scare the absolute everything out of me. i can be sociable but in a big group, i would feel completely out of my element.

    • says

      Me too Nova! I’ve been to an event and I knew a handful of people and I enjoyed it but I was nervous and forgot everything I might possibly say. It does help that so much of us are the same way though!

  6. tonyalee says

    I have been two 3 – but only really “interacted” with many bloggers was at BEA last year. I am like you – I get nervous around a lot of people and always feel on the outside. It is also hard, because a lot of people ARE hard to approach.

    It was a good experience for me personally- I met some new bloggers and still talk to them. But I don’t think there is a disadvantage NOT going.

    • says

      That’s awesome that you made new blogger friends through going! Are you going again this year? If so, I hope you have a great time again!

  7. says

    As you know this is my first year at BEA, and I’m really sad that you can’t make it, but I know what you mean about life getting in the way, I’m sweating bullets to really make it work for me with all the apartment stuff too!

    I feel rather overwhelmed when I think of everything that I want to do, and everyone that I want to meet, because there are so many awesome bloggers I’d love to meet and hang out with and so many authors too! I know I’ll have moments of wanting to run away from it all, but if I’ve managed metal festivals, travelling on my own, attending massive Indian weddings and dealing with grieving families… I can do this no problem! I’m really glad I’m attending & rooming with Britt and Becca so we can be BEA buddies through the madness! I’ll just be sure to have some tea to calm my nerves when the need arises! 😉

    • says

      YES! The idea of time management seems so stressful. I see people with spreadsheets and I get anxiety! haha. I know you’ll have a blast Pili and I want to hear stories when you get back!

  8. says

    I definitely don’t think a blogger is at a disadvantage if they can’t go to BEA or other conventions! Regarding ARC’s, you can always request them separately, and if you’re active in the community you probably have friends who can loan you an ARC!

    And regarding “networking” and “building relationships” — I’ve only been to BEA once, but that definitely didn’t feel like the time to be laid-back and chatty and start relationships with the publicists at the booths. There was just SO MUCH going on all the time, so many people everywhere… If you have groups of friends/bloggers you want to meet and hang out with in line, or after the exhibits that day, that’s one thing; and specific publicists you want to say hello to, those can definitely happen. But beyond that I think it’s hard to really network, unless you don’t plan to go to many book drops or signings, because networking takes conversation and time.

    Now, that’s not to say that conventions are all about getting All The Books and going to All The Signings — and after I went to BEA, I decided that they *shouldn’t* be. There really is something to be said for being able to hang out in a gigantic convention center filled with people who are all there for the same reason, and all passionate about the same thing — reading.

    I am normally a hugely introverted person, better at writing than talking, and I consider myself super awkward (or if not awkward, at least extremely uncomfortable) in social situations. But being in the Javits for BEA was actually incredibly liberating.

    For one thing, you have to remember that many of the other people at these conventions feel the exact same way, or at least understand those of us who do. We’re bookish and often quiet. That’s okay! But also, knowing that, it was so much easier to talk to random people than I’d anticipated. And there were so many moments of “hey we’ve been chatting for a few minutes, we should introduce ourselves — OMG YOU’RE SO-AND-SO?! I know you!” It definitely meant you had to be “on” all day, socially, which took some recovery time when it was over, but it still felt really good, being in that space with those people. I’m definitely of the opinion that the most beneficial thing about con’s is that social aspect, even (and maybe especially) for those of us who consider ourselves the quiet introverts.

    Now, for people who get really anxious in big crowds and huge spaces, *then* I’d probably say BEA isn’t the best event for you, but the people who are more okay with the larger crowds will be good.

    • says

      I think about the experience of everyone with a common interest all being excited and seeing so many book lovers in one place–that’s when I get all EEE I NEED TO GO, OMG but then at the same time I think…ALL THE PEOPLE…AHHHHH, RUN. AWAY. hahah. I’m not sure how I’d handle it to be honest. I did wonder if getting to know new people was all that possible. Seems like some folks do make new bloggy friends but everything seems so rushed.

  9. says

    I’m going to BEA for the first time this year. (I figured it was my last chance before the 3 years of law school starts.) I completely understand the social anxiety feelings; I’m more comfortable writing and I’m sure I’ll make an idiot of myself at least 10 times a day, but we’ll make it work, grab a few books, and hopefully have some fun. My evil plan is to bring candy, so whenever I don’t know what to say, I can offer candy and walk away having made a philanthropic, sugary impression. 🙂

    • says

      I am so excited you get to go for the first time! I’m sure you’ll post about it so I’ll keep on the look out. I can’t wait to hear about your experience! And candy is a great idea!!

  10. says

    Oh I totally get what you mean!! Every time I’ve gone to a big convention like Romantic Times Booklovers Convention, I’ve gone solo. Usually because I can never wrangle my in real life bestie to come and when trying to find a blogger buddy two years back, she had to cancel on me at the beginning of the year the convention was to take place because of financial reasons. Which I totally understood! But it was still sad, because I always find myself alone at these things and I see everyone with people! Everyone is in a group or duo or trio…and I’m a sort of shy person when meeting new people.

    Granted at RT, I am still shy, but I at least know I am with book people, so I do strike up conversations with some people while waiting in line. Because at RT there are a LOT of lines! I’ve headed one or two at each convention though! It pays to be a morning person! LOL!

    But yes, I do find it extremely hard to be a social butterfly if I am going solo at these things. Because it always appears no one else is going solo. It’s hard. I am extremely shy too at first. I am not really “assertive” or bold enough to inset myself into conversations or groups and become fast friends. I tend to feel like the odd man (gal) out.

    But I do still have fun. I love meeting new authors or ones I’ve met several times already. And I practically cry happy tears when one says…”you look familiar!” She/he can’t always remember my name, which I suck at names too, but like them I can easily recall faces! So having an author remember me makes me soooo happy! Of course, I can’t go to RT this year, likely not next year either since it’s in Vegas and I really don’t feel up to conquering Vegas! NOLA was its own experience for a good long while for me!

    But as I said, in this extremely lengthy comment, I do love going to signings and conventions because I love being with other readers. I felt soooo alone during my own teen years because none of my friends were readers like me. Or they were always reading some classic while I was the one struggling and sometimes succeeding to find my paranormal read–glad that’s no longer an issue. So being around booklovers and readers and bloggers now, is a delight! Though I still have the tendency to be super shy.

    Going solo though is beneficial at times too. You can go to the panels you want to, or panel hop, as I tend to do. Because at RT there will be like 2-4 panels you want to go to that are all at the exact same time! And being solo allows you to easily slip in and out of those panels.

    The next time I plan to go to RT, which I am hoping in 2017 depending on where it’s at, I hope to correspond with a blogger buddy and become roommates for the hotel stay!

    • says

      I usually attend signings with my husband who I drag along. He’s not a reader so he doesn’t have a lot to say! haha. But it helps having him there to mumble things to. I do think that being on my own would give me more reason to really strike out and talk to people (or more likely hide!) I hope you have luck rooming with a bloggy friend the next time you go! I think that would be the best way to experience everything.

  11. says

    Perhaps I’m a ~bad~ blogger, but I have no interest in attending BEA. Sure it would be fun to meet blogger friends in person and put a face to publicists, but other than that, nothing about it interests me. Unless I was planning on going with a group of friends, I’m perfectly content sitting at home and going about my life. Honestly, from what I’ve heard from people who HAVE gone, the entire event is such a blur there’s not a whole lot of downtime.

    Seriously, if there’s a book I desperately need, I’ll contact the publicist. I’m still able to get an ARC and get to stay in my pajamas the entire time. Win-win for me.

    • says

      HAHAH! I can relate. I have some of my closest blog friends all going to BEA and I think that’s why I want to go. If they weren’t going my interest level would plummet. I think it’s mostly curiosity for me since I really can’t picture how it would feel to be there.

  12. says

    My favorite thing about attending is meeting the people who I’ve been talking to for the last year. When I first signed up for BEA last year (my first convention) I was all about the ARCs. And, yeah, of course I still want to get all of those this year, but really the most fun I had was spending time with my new friends.
    I do feel like I’d miss out if I never went to any conventions – I think it’s a great experience and it just makes me feel more like a “blogger”. Like it’s more than just a hobby, you know?

    • says

      I think putting faces to the people I talk to so often would be an amazing experience. I get curious how it would feel to actually interact with everyone and how would we all jive? It really sounds like that aspect would be so much fun. I think the ARC frenzy stuff really sort of freaks me out because it sounds like a stampede! Or at least that’s how I envision it. One day I really do hope I get to meet a good amount of this community in person (even though I’d be a nervous wreck)

  13. says

    I’ve never gone to a convention yet (being as I’m both a fairly new blogger and a high school student). I hope to one day go to BEA when I’m away at college, as I’ll hopefully be only a few hours away from NYC. But I do get a little jealous when everyone starts talking about them…but then again like you’d I’d be nervous about the whole thing too! 🙂

  14. says

    Huuuugs. <3 I love this discussion post so much Kristen. You are amazing. Thank you so much for writing about it. <3 But aw, I'm so sorry that you weren't able to go to any of these 🙁 I want to go to them all SO BADLY. One of my biggest wishes 🙂 But Norway is waaaay too far away, hmph. Though I am a bit like you. I want to go so badly. But also a bit happy that I can't, because I'm way too nervous, hih. I'm not used to so many people. And since I don't speak English in person, only in writing, I feel like I would end up being way too awkward. Ack. I would understand everything someone says to me, hih, but I'm not sure I would be able to respond :p I'm not the best at talking much 🙂 But even so, I do wish I could go sometime. I shall cross my fingers for you that you might be able to go next year, if you want to. <3 Thank you for sharing sweetie 🙂

  15. says

    I’ve been to three BEAs and this year will be my last one, since it’s moving to Chicago next year. BEA is completely overwhelming and exhausting, especially for those of us who are introverts! If you don’t love crowds (I don’t) then it’s a lot to handle. This year I have to juggle a bunch of family obligations during the conference, so I’m not committing to anything and will just show up when I can.
    I love meeting other bloggers in person, and it is fun to get ARCs, but I’ve also found that those same ARCs show up on Netgalley too, so you’re really not missing out on that much. If your community has signings and smaller conferences (and I think Texas is one of the best places to be on that front!) then you actually get a much calmer and more enjoyable experience.

  16. says

    I have gone the past two years and both times I had a lot of fun. However there is definitely the plus and minus sides to going. It costs a lot of money depending on where you are from and how you do it. I live in California and had to fly, then there are hotel costs and then the registration fee and food the days you are there. Ultimately I ended up spending more money then I would have on the books I brought home. On the plus side tho I got to meet tons of bloggers and authors…mostly it’s the bloggers and publicists that make it worth it because you don’t get a lot of time one on one with the authors…except one time when I wound up going to a breakfast event and another that I wound up at a bar with several of them for awhile and another bar hanging out with publicists and literary agents another night, it depends on chance and connections you already have and just how social you are.

    The “big” bloggers always end up invited to way more cool events where they get to mingle with authors for quite a long time. I bet you’d get into those type of events. Mostly I just saw it as a chance to have fun, get books, make some blogger friends and new pub connections. I for one do stop and chat a bunch with publicists because I think they appreciate that. Imagine being surrounded by just grab and go all day long without anyone stopping to chat!? I wouldn’t want that, plus I’m chatty.

    I’d say go at least once so you can experience it. I am not going this year because of my newborn but Anya and I are going to go to ALA instead. Be sure to try to get a travel/roomie!

  17. says

    I can see why you would think that BEA gives bloggers a “leg up”, but it doesn’t really. Basically, here’s what you get from BEA:

    1. A lot of free books. This can be nice for bloggers who wouldn’t have otherwise been accepted for these ARCs.
    2. You can meet some of your blogger friends in person.
    3. You can meet some authors.

    It is a REALLY FUN event and I adore it, but that’s all it really is—fun.

    Have I done much networking? Not really. This will be my third year attending BEA and I have yet to come away with a publisher contact.

    My first year, I tried to make contacts. I handed like two or three publishers my business card and I tried to strike up a conversation. Most of the publicists were either busy, awkward, or shy. And that’s totally fine—I’m awkward and shy too. I just mean that none of them really seemed like they wanted to get to know me or my blog and make a connection. BEA feels a lot more like “get in, grab a book, say thank you, get out.”

    BEA is ridiculously fun but I don’t really think it gives you anything that you can’t get another way.

    All of my publisher contacts (which aren’t many, to be honest) have been made through either:

    1. Requesting a physical ARC from a pub directly via email. They reply, and voila, there’s my contact.
    2. Submitting a lot of reviews for a pub via NetGalley, they seem to like them, and they start emailing me personally.

    I think Blogger Con can be awesome for new bloggers who are looking for tips, but all that info can still be found online if you know where to look for it.

    BEA is a huge, fun, bookish, social scene and you can certainly make new friends. But if you don’t go, I don’t think you’ll be “forever a lesser blogger” or anything because you didn’t get the “networking opportunities” from BEA.

  18. says

    Oh man, I am totally of the same frame of mind as you. The concept of these conventions sounds amazing but all the social interaction has me all in a panic before it even happens. I’m not a social butterfly and break out in hives at the drop of a hat so I’m not sure I’ll EVER be able to one of them for that reason and because it’s a huge financial commitment. I find it much easier to do everything in written form too. 🙂

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