Coming Down from a Conference

For two and a half days I was an author. I mingled with other authors, committee chairs and staff, fans of mystery/suspense novels and short stories, and a few spouses. I smiled, made small talk, sat on a panel, and tried to sound like I knew what I was talking about. The book store present actually sold three of my books and one reader asked me to sign hers. (I appreciated that.) On Saturday I found the “continuous conversation” a comfortable place to be, so I came early and stayed late, but our conversation wasn’t always about books or writing. One woman at the table had raised and shown Arabian horses. I used to own an Arab, so of course we shared stories. And one of the other writers present at the conference has Rhodesian Ridgebacks. So we shared pictures and tales about our dogs.

I attended the sessions on e-books and how to increase your fan base (and hopefully earn a billion dollars). Yeah, sure. I even wore a costume to the banquet Saturday night. I was dressed in prison orange, which I quickly removed before driving back to my motel (especially since I had to drive by a police station to get there).

I put 590 miles on my car to attend this conference. Was gone for 4 days. Too much was going on for me to get any writing done, and I’ve been playing catch-up ever since I returned. (Catch up on my sleep, on the laundry, on grocery shopping, e-mail, etc.) So was it worth it?

I really don’t know, and that’s the problem with much of the PR a writer does. There is no true way to determine if the people who listened to me on the panel or sat at the table during those continuous conversations, or if anyone I smiled at, talked with, or shook hands with will ever buy one of my books. There’s no way to tell if having my picture and bio in the handbook will have any influence on a potential book buyer.

There’s also no way for me to judge if the bits of information I picked up during those sessions on e-books and increasing your fan base will actually help me personally. Yet I’m glad I went, and I’m glad I met the people who were there. I did learn a bit more about the business I’m in, and I’ve already shared some of the information I gleaned at the conference with a women’s group here in the area where I live. Now I simply have to come
back down to reality and do what writers must do…WRITE.

(By the way, today I signed up to attend Sleuthfest next March in Orlando, Florida.)

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7 Responses to Coming Down from a Conference

  1. Incidentally, I’m “coming down” from a conference as well – they are their own special beast but worthwhile all the trouble.

    • Maris says:

      Annette, you’re right. I like how you’ve called it a special beast. It’s one we may never tame, but I always enjoy being in the ring with it.

  2. Wil A. Emerson says:

    You are so right, Maris!! There’s a lot to question about the time, money and energy spent at a conference. Is it worthwhile? Often I’ve attended and come back with the feeling that I could have blocked out the time for writing. Maybe booking a hotel in some obscure city, no phones, no interruptions would prove more profitable for writing. But then I think about the overall experience, the human value. Interesting people, noteworthy speakers and great subject matter. Those factors don’t always convince me….but being amongst writers who share the same intense passion gives me a sense of hope. Next year…we’ll see…Sleuth Fest has always been on my ‘go to’ list. But then a three day stay at the JW Marriott in Indy would be less costly, more luxurious and care free. Locked in a room, I might finish the great American novel. Might……would I be lonsome….might….

    • Maris says:

      Wil, I have a room reserved for Sleuthfest, and it’s in Orlando this year. Keep it in mind and let me know if you decide to go.

  3. Maris, you’re right. There’s no way to statistically gauge the benefits to your career when you attend a conference. I always try to determine whether I’ve been energized and motivated enough to bring that energy to my writing. Then there’s the networking, that enigmatic term with many meaning. Does it or doesn’t it work? Will it or won’t it add readers to your fan base? Who knows? Loved this blog topic. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • Geovani says:

      Hi!I cannot beveile that I have come across a RR in Malta!!I used to have one when I lived in the UK and still miss the long walks in the Yorkshire moors with ASLAN by my side Are RR available in Malta or did you bring him over?Best regards,Ivan

  4. Diane Burton says:

    I could really emphasize with this topic. Conferences are great. You get so hyped up with a feeling of empowerment. Then, you come home. Reality sets in as you deal with all the mundane stuff like laundry and mail. What a let down. If only we could bottle the terrific feelings we get at a conference then let them out when we need them most. Thanks for bringing up this topic, Maris. I hope you’ll share more of what you learned about the industry.