It's my hope that I will be laid off from my newspaper-editor job (and handed a decent-sized severance check) in time to attend my first-ever Bouchercon in San Francisco.

For those who have attended this conference before, what advice would you offer a newbie like me who wants to make the most of this opportunity? What's the best way to do meaningful networking there? Tell me about the conference culture, and share your experiences.


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Whatever you do, enjoy it. If you have a book that's been released recently, try to get on a panel. Newcomers generally have to take whatever is left. Also, if you're selling a book, introduce yourself to the book store owners. People hang out in bars, so you might find some interesting contacts there. But whatever you do, enjoy it! Visit the host city. Eat some local food.
Jim, I'm going this year for the first time, too. My publisher gave me the same advice as I.J. Basically have fun and talk to people, making sure to meet the bookstore owners. And if you're on a panel, great.
Just have a good time is all I'll say! LOL!

Best Wishes!
Get plenty of rest before you go. IJ and Robin are right, and once there, you'll have the opportunity to run all day and well into the evening.

Another good idea--at least it was for me--is to make arrangements to at least say hello to people you already know from Crimespace or blogs or however. I have a hard time introducing myself to people cold, but can talk if I already feel like I know them at least a little. Posting here and commenting on people's blogs was a big help with icebreaking for me.

Plus, Bouchercon attendees are great. My favorite story took place the first morning of my first Bouchercon. I was chatting with Peter Rozofsky--who I met through his outstanding blog--explaining what I noted above, it's hard fr me to introduce myself to people, and how I appreciated him chatting with me because "I don;t know anyone here."

He looked at me, then looked around. "Do you know Scott Phillips?"


"Scott, come over here. This is Dana King. Dana, this is Scott Phillips. Scott wrote THE ICE HARVEST."

Scott and I shook hands. Peter said, "See, now you know somebody."

Be polite and respectful of peoples' time, basically treat the as you'd like to be treated yourself. If you have something specific to ask a specific author, say hello, make the usual introductory small talk, preface your question with why you want to ask him or her this question of all the hundreds of people there (everyone likes to think there's something unique about their perspective that interests others) and ask your question. You could be amazed at where the conversations go.

Mostly, have a ball. Even if nothing concrete gets accomplished, you'll be jazzed about writing when you go. I have to miss this year, but I'm already looking forward to St. Louis in 2011.
Thanks! I'm REALLY hoping this happens. The odds aren't good, as my end-of-work date has been delayed several months already, but I retain foolish optimism. If Bouchercon doesn't happen for me, though, then I'll definitely do Left Coast Crime in Santa Fe next spring.
The trick for me so far has been to sit on panels no one attends except Dana, have fraught meetings with my editor and odd conversations with Theresa Schwegel, and then spend the rest of the meeting looking around for Jack Getze and/or moping in the hotel bar wishing I could get the hell out of there. Basically I'm coming to the conclusion that I hate all conferences and probably shouldn't bother attending unless I'm asked, through some fluke, to sit on a high profile panel. You know--"writing regional mysteries," or "writing comic mysteries," or "dealing with gender issues in mysteries," or whatever. Maybe next year...
you sound like fun. will you be there this year? I'd love to mope in the hotel bar with you.
That's a lovely invitation, Robin, but alas no--much as I'd love a trip to San Fran this fall I can't fit it into my schedule (or my budget) this time around. I've got a research trip to Cape Cod planned that will conflict, I'm afraid.
All right then. Another time, another gloomy bar...
Are you going to St. Louis next year? We'll set a time so we don't miss each other at the bar like we did last year.
I hope so, Dana--it's theoretically drive-able, which is a plus. And I'll have a book coming out, maybe. But yes, next B-con we can both attend, you and I will officially drink together.


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