I've registered for Bouchercon, and I'm wondering who else from Crimespace is going - maybe we could meet somehow, somewhere. I've checked the schedule of panels, and unfortunately they don't seem to have assigned me one, but at least they've listed me as an author with a link to my website.

The schedule looks daunting. Six time slots per day on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, an average of five panels per time slot and five authors per panel - that's an average of 150 authors per day, most of whom I've never heard of, or 450 for the three days, not counting Sunday morning. Presumably all will be selling at least one book - the math and the sheer weight of all those books are staggering, as would be the cost if I patronized more than a few of them. Oh well - they say it's all about the networking, not the sales.

I'll save further comments for my personal blog, but I'd love to hear others' opinions as to how to get the most out of this humungous event.

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Jon Jordan wrote a handy blog about getting the most out of Bouchercon.

And yes, I'll be there.
Thanks for the link. I especially like the advice about snacks and comfy shoes.

And I will be there, too.
I'll be there. It will be my first, but based on what I keep hearing, it won't be my last.

There are lots of Crimespacers scheduled to attend. The official conference web site has a list of all attendees, if you're interested. (www.charmedtodeath.com)
The sheer size of Bouchercon can be staggering. One of the main things I suggest is setting modest goals. You will not get to say hi to everyone so don't beat yourself up over that.

And don't even try going to a panel for every time slot. It can be overwhelming. Don't be afraid to skip a panel and go out with a group of people you've just met instead.

Here's the main thing about the idea of "selling". Panelists are not supposed to sell their books at Bouchercon. As the moderator of a panel I know we're all given a copy of the moderator's manifesto, and the point is to talk about the topics, not our latest books. The book room is for selling (and everyone on a panel has a half hour signing session following their panel) but the panels are for the topics.

There are always authors who will pile gimmicky stuff in front of them, but that's not supposed to be the point.

I consider the best part of B'con to be networking with readers. We rarely get such an opportunity to meet so many at one time.
Sorry you can't make it this year, but I hope to see you in 2009!
Thanks for your thoughtful reply, Sandra - it will help me keep things in perspective, although I question the statement that "Panelists are not supposed to sell their books at Bouchercon." Why on earth not? Discussing topics without blatant self-promotion is all well and good, but the urge to sell shouldn't be a shameful secret, IMHO.

I look forward to meeting you there - and to skipping some panels.
People misunderstand how you best sell books. If you're on a panel and the topic is African Mysteries and you take every opportunity to twist a question back to yourself ("well, you know, my protagonist doesn't live in Africa but she collects stuffed giraffes, and those are animals from Africa, so you'll all love my books!") it's boring as hell to listen to.

I spent a few years attending cons as a reader. If panelists were interesting and funny, I'd go buy their book. If all they did was talk about themselves and ask me to buy their book, I tuned them out. I hear the same thing said by other readers constantly.

Case in point was the panel I was on a few years ago. One panelist actually begged people in the audience to come pick up their bookmarks afterwards. One mention we could have lived with, but he said talked about what a nice bookmark it was three or four times. After the panel someone walked up to me and introduced themselves and said, "X sold me on his book, and then he unsold me on his book."

As I said, unless a bookmark performs oral sex, it isn't that special. Or to rephrase, nobody pays the kind of money it takes to attend a con just to pick up a free bookmark. You'll never have an easier audience than at B'con - the readers have usually spent hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars attending because they LOVE mysteries! They want to discover new authors, or they'd be at home, reading the authors they already know about. Be polite, be funny, be informative and people will buy your book.

The panels with the highest attendance numbers aren't just the ones with "big" names - they're the ones where the panelists are entertaining. It isn't that people don't end up selling copies of their books - it's just that some mistake talking about it on panels as the way to do it.

One of my major pet peeves from a prior B'con was being backed into a corner by two authors wearing costumes who wanted to tell me about the moment they got inspired to write the book and all the nitty gritty details of the process. I have a real split personality and have to put on my social side for events like these, because they are demanding, but that kind of freaked me out.
This is excellent advice, especially as it relates to a panel I was on this past Saturday at the NYS Museum in Albany. There were six of us, a moderator and five panelists from the local chapter of Sisters in Crime. The panel was excellent and people seemed to enjoy it, but we didn't sell a huge number of books. Perhaps we were talking about our own works too much. Then again, the event was free, and people may not have been primed to spend much.

One woman (who was using a walker) was carrying my book around, seemingly about to buy it, but then put it down. When I asked why, she replied that it was too much for her to carry at the time. So you never know.
I'm going! And I am soooo looking forward to it. I know that the Jordans and Judy will do a fabulous job. I'm doubly excited this year as I'm off to Alaska again straight after. Can't wait. Bouchercon is such a wonderful opportunity to catch up with old friends and make new ones. I find that I do go to less panels with each Bouchercon I go to, as I spend more time talking to people. That's the best thing about it for me - getting to spend time with people whose company I really enjoy.
Cons are just not practical for me. I wouldn't be able to recoup the cost of the trip if I sold a book to a publisher at the price they pay new authors.
Angela, your advice is most welcome. I'd already highlighted the short story panel as the one I'm most likely to attend in that time slot.

I will do my best not to be shy, and I'm glad "pitching" is in style. I'll probably stress the visual side, wearing a t-shirt with my book cover (for which I did the illustration) and/or a weirdly bedecked hat.
I'll be there and it'll be my first B-Con, though not my first convention. I'll be on a couple of panels but I'm mostly just looking forward to hanging with old friends and meeting some new ones. I'll be easy to spot by my platinum hair, so if you see me, come over and say hi.


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