Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Crime Family Reunion

That's what I call Bouchercon.

Apologies to folks who can't go, for whatever reason. If you love crime fiction, I would recommend looking at the Bouchercon website and seeing if one is scheduled near where you live in the next few years, and planning to visit for a day, or the extended weekend. You won't regret it. My friend Sabrina Ogden talked me into going in 2011, when I had only published a handful of short stories, and I thought it would be a waste of money, from a writing business perspective.

I was utterly wrong. It was an investment, with dividends that can't be measured on a balance sheet.
Now writers say that a lot because we operate so deep in the red that we might as well be Comrade Doggo:

Are your puppers in order?

Sarah and I make Bouchercon one of our vacations each year. She's visited more of the United States than I have, and there's almost always something nearby to see. This year's is in Toronto, a city I haven't visited in decades. I'm looking forward to it, but most of all, I'm looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones. It's a very friendly crowd, and more reader oriented than most other conventions. ThrillerFest is all about the biz, and is very worthwhile for writers looking to learn, but Bouchercon is for everybody. One of the best ways to meet folks is to volunteer, and they always need volunteers.

I know it sucks to be the one at home when so many of your friends and favorite writers are sharing how much fun they are having at Bouchercon on social media. I know people who take a social media break during it, for this reason. I know not everybody can afford to attend, but even if it's a once in a lifetime splurge, I recommend it. Wait for your favorite writer to be the Guest of Honor, wait for it to be held near you, whatever it takes. You'll make friends for life. Friends I knew only on social media have become some of my closest friends, thanks to this convention. And you can split rooms, carpool, do whatever it takes. Get a room with a fridge and get your food and drinks cheap at a local market. 

And as a business proposition, it's not money thrown out the window. I've talked with agents and editors, had great discussions with writers and readers, found copy editors and beta readers and new magazines to submit to, met with publishers (like the publisher of my Jay Desmarteaux series, Down & Out Books) and much more. And while some will tell you to skip the con and hang out at the bar, I think this is a mistake for a few reasons. One, the con's not cheap to run. Your membership is important, even if you can only manage a day pass. And you will meet many more people wandering the book room or before and after panels than you will at the bar. 

Writer shown with manly pink drink

Now, my next book is set in a bar. My uncle ran bars. The staff at my local bar, the Cloverleaf, knows me so well they've brought me drinks while I was waiting in line for a table. So I will be at the bar. But the bar crowd is a small slice of the whole. Not everyone likes a loud atmosphere, or staying up that late. You can meet just as many people in the morning at the hospitality suite, or at the hotel's cafe, or the lobby. Just hang out and say hello. Wear your name tag. Write your name in big letters with a marker, because sometimes they print them too small. Wear the tag up high so we can see it. Those dangling badge holders swinging around at crotch level make it tough to identify people without staring like some sort of weirdo.

I hope to meet you there someday, if you can make it. 

1 comment:

Art Taylor said...

Such a fine post here, Thomas--hitting all the right points both for those who are fortunate to attend, those who are questioning whether they should/should've, and those too who aren't able to make it this year.

Look forward to seeing you there!