I’m home. After a 9 hour journey and more mileage on my car then I care to think about, I made it home from TNEE 2016 in Atlanta. I’m still super tired, and I’m back on Betrayer today, but I wanted to give a quick re-cap for those who’re interested in my first ever con event.
This is my low down:
Be the person everyone else wants you to be
Contrary to usual wisdom, I’m going out on a limb here because let’s face it, most writers aren’t exactly extroverts, and we need all the help we can get. If you’re going to go to any event where it’s not just the public, but actual readers or god forbid, your personal fans, you have got to be the person they want you to be even if you have to drag it out of you kicking and screaming. That means no hiding in the corner, no aloofness, no holier-than-thou-you-will-bow-down-before-me sort of attitude. It will get you nowhere. If you go to any convention or show, you must be flexible and prepared to roll with the punches. In addition to this, you must actually enjoy yourself. No, really. They are there to see you and get to know your work. Let them in and everyone will be happy that you did.
SWAG is king
It’s the candied crack that we hand out at shows to get fan attention. I didn’t really understand the extent of this until after I got to the show. Now to be fair, I didn’t come empty-handed. I was smart enough the read the hell out of the FB author page to get a small glimpse of what we were talking about here so I came with totes, pens, bookmarks, stickers, biz cards, and personalized M&Ms. Yep, M&Ms with my name on them. But still, it probably wasn’t enough. Yeah, everyone says swag doesn’t matter, it’s all about you, but honestly, we have all drank the kool-aid. There is an expectation for authors to pamper the fans, and that’s what this specific event is about – connecting directly with readers. Next time, I’ll come more prepared. It’s time to up the ante in the swag wars.
Romance fans are wild
I already knew this from lurking around some romance panels at the Virginia Festival of the Book, but to go into the trenches is something else. There is a level of dedication to me that is astounding. I’ve said it before on this blog, and I’ll say it again. There is no one quite like a romance fan – they are all in. And loyalty? Yeah, no need to even talk about it. I had a blast hanging with all my girls even though technically I’m not a romance writer. Still, even with that, they accepted me and that’s pretty groovy.
I’m not a romance writer
I always pegged myself as someone who straddled between the genres of urban fantasy and paranormal romance: urban fantasy with a refreshing romantic twist so to speak. After being at TNEE and having an in-depth conversation with Melanie Marchande about what constitutes romance, I’ve come to the conclusion that I am definitely not a romance writer by standard definition. I don’t guarantee HEAs (happily ever afters) and I sure as hell don’t engage in menage since somewhere my dad is probably reading this very post (ps – he’s a big fan). So how do I feel about that revelation? I’m not sure. It sort of reminds me yet again that I don’t fit in any one place, but no one seemed to point a finger at me at TNEE and say, “Where is the naked man on your cover? You shall not pass!” (Tolkien nerd alert)
So even given that admission, I’ve signed up for AAD in Savannah in August. We’ll see how it goes.