How And Why I Choose The Events I Do

I apologize to my handful of readers for not posting the last couple of weeks. It was a major fail on the part of my hosting company. While doing some maintenance they discovered a problem, a big problem. A problem big enough to take down all the sites housed on this server. Once they got us back online, it was with a backup from January and I couldn’t chance changing things. As of today we are up and running with current content.

Now onto our regularly scheduled blathering…

Today, I want to chat a little about events, conventions and why writers can’t do all the things.

There have been some questions as to why I won’t be attending some local events this year. It’s me, not you. No, seriously, it is me.

You all know I love getting to meet you in person. One of the best parts of my job is interacting with you. Whether it be a chance meeting—I don’t mind you coming over to say hi, if you see me out and about—or at a scheduled event.

It’s not that I don’t get invited. This year alone, I’ve been invited to more than I can count. That’s the problem, making them count. I have to weigh out the pros and cons of each invitation and make a decision on attending.

Most events fall on a weekend, which is great because more of you can attend, but bad because it takes away family time. Not that I’m not used to that, doing hair for multitudes of years has conditioned me to work on weekends.

Many events charge a fee. I’m not complaining, I know that’s how they are able to pay for the venue, advertising and in some cases make it free to the public. Most of the time, it’s money well spent. There are times when you wonder where the money went.

Expenses for travel have to be taken into account. I may not look it, but I do need to eat. There’s the cost of getting there and I need a place to stay. It all adds up.

I know some of you are scratching you heads right now wondering why we—writers—have to worry about this stuff.

There’s a big misconception that we get to do all of this for free. Well, maybe if you’re Stephen King or Danielle Steel, you get comped into the conventions, your travel expenses paid, and you might even get an appearance fee. Not lowly mid-list writers—this goes for both indies and traditionally published—we have to pay our way, just like everyone else.

As much fun as these things are, they have to come out of our marketing budget. That budget includes things like bookmarks, business cards, advertising, fun swag and the giveaways we like to do for you. It all goes hand in hand.

Here are some examples of events I attend and the reasoning behind my choices.

I offer to do library events because I’m a firm believer in the power of libraries. Unlike some writers who charge the libraries for appearances, I always do these for free and give the library copies of my books. I worked as an associate at our local library for ten years and know the problems they face. But I’m not apposed to snarfing down a few cookies and almost enough coffee to fuel my stay. Hard to say no to homemade cookies and caffeine.

I usually don’t attend vendor events. I can’t justify space rental or the time sitting behind a table, when I could use that money elsewhere and spend that time writing. I’m a writer, not a sales person. The one exception is when Prairieland Herbs calls, they’ve been so helpful to me and a few of my friends over the years. Not to mention, it’s a heck of a party when they do a Sample Sunday. It’s also one of the few places that stocks my books.

This year I’m part of a multi-author event in Clear Lake, Iowa. Hosted by BF Bookies, three lovely ladies who run a review site, two are local authors. I try very hard to support our local writing and reading community whenever possible. It’s a free event to the public, which always makes me happy. And my expenses will be minuscule, allowing me to donate to their door prizes and goodie bags, which will make you happy.

With two science fiction and fantasy conventions in the area I have to make a choice. There is no way I can attend both.

Last year I made a flash appearance at DemiCon in Des Moines for an author meet and greet. It was fun to chat with sci-fi and fantasy junkies like myself, but I’ve opted out of attending this year in favor of attending ICON in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

ICON was such a whirlwind last year, I hope I can slow down and enjoy more of the festivities this year. The reason I chose the more expensive of the two can be chalked up to it being a bigger convention—there will be some cross over from DemiCon—so I get to meet more people, I get to socialize with many of my writing buddies from that side of the state and it’s very organized.

If I could have one wish, when it comes to any convention, they would come up with some sort of discount for those who volunteer for programing. It would probably entice more participants. I’m not saying comp the entire event, but maybe have a rate justified by how many programs you are part of.

As much as I love attending events, there are a few I’ve decided to opt out of this year for various reasons. Anything from the cost to what was expected of me. It all has to fit in the budget, whether it be the monetary, writing time or just life in general.

Hopefully, this clears up a few questions about how and why I choose the events I do.

How about all of you, do you intend on attending any events—of any kind—this year?