20 Oct '13

Visiting International Book Conventions : Thoughts from Authors After Dark 2013 (#AADSAV)

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So, I’ve been meaning to do this post for a while but I never got round to it. In August, I was lucky enough to visit Authors After Dark 2013 in the beautiful Savannah. I have always wanted to do a book convention and this one fell perfectly for me so we packed up and went. I am so glad I did, although I probably won’t be able to afford to go again, I recommend that anyone who is part of the book community attends at least one.

The masquerade ball

In the UK, there is no conventions like the ones held in the US and, because of this, we had to travel. Being an international visitor to the US comes with its own complications but add in the fact that you are a convention visitor and you get a whole heap of new problems. Here is the things I think you need to consider….

1. Contact the Hotel directly if you have a specific room requirement

The hotel in Savannah was the most accommodating one I’ve ever been lucky to stay at. The hotel didn’t guarantee if they had two queen beds in their room or one king. There were three of us and I didn’t want to risk there being only one bed. I contacted them and they reserved the appropriate room and gave us convention rates for our entire stay…. amazing service!

2. Go for extra days around the convention.

We went for a few days after and I’m glad we did. It was 17 hours of travelling to get to Savannah and, on the days of the convention, there was no time what-so-ever to explore a place I’ll probably never visit again. The two days after were needed and enjoyed.

Forsythe Park
3. Planning for Events
There was three events at the event and they were all fancy dress. I wasn’t going to Savannah and not participating, but I had to think of suitcase space on the way back. What I did was spend very little money on a costume I was happy to leave there. Not a single bit of my costume came back with me as I sacrificed it for space for books 🙂
4. Planning what you buy before you go
I knew which authors were attending and I knew who I wanted the autograph of. I went with a list of books that I knew I was getting signed and that I was bringing back. I was so strict with myself but I was so glad that I did because shipping cost me enough. Discipline is the only way to make sure you don’t cost yourself an arm and a leg when travelling back.
My signed books…

Budget for extra baggage allowance

I recommend this option over shipping for international visitors. It’s cheaper, you get your stuff quicker and it’s just all around an easier option. I spent $200 on extra baggage at the airport (I know!) but it was still cheaper than the £350 option for posting. Make sure you check the weight restrictions and also bring scales to check you stick within the parameters. Also, if you have connecting flights with a different airline check theirs too! You will get free books, and you have to be disciplined about what you accept, and you will bring back more than you took.

One half of my case…..

Socialising.

Online, I’m a social butterfly. I find it easy to communicate with people on twitter but, if you put me in a room full of real-life strangers, I’m quiet and a bit awkward. You are there for a short time, make the most of it. Talk to bloggers you talk to online and talk to authors you love, even if it completely against your nature. What have you got to lose?

Expect to bring random surprises back. 

My favorite prize is a stuffed horse signed  my favorite Cowboy authors. Beth Williamson and Cat Johnson. It was awkward to bring back in the case but there is no way that I would have left it.

My horse….

Attend the panels

The panels were my favorite part of the event and I went to some random ones. From the historical panel where I discovered Jade Lee (hysterical lady) to the GLBT panel where I learned about the upcoming lesbian roller derby fairy book, I have never laughed so much. BA Tortuga was my favorite author to see on the panels and I came away with an overwhelming desire to read everything that she has ever written (funniest lady I’ve ever met). These are the times to see the real side to the authors that you love, to discover the stories behind their books and to meet new authors. They are a must.

Enjoy yourself

Plan well, be disciplined but make sure that you have fun. From the inflatables party where I came back with rope burn to the accidental invasion of Hildie McQueen’s table where I got to listen to her heckle, I loved every second. You may never go again, make it count.

The Cowboys were out in force at AAD!!

Nix

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