When my editor from City Owl Press put out the invitation for authors to go to Romantic Times in Las Vegas, it was an opportunity I didn’t want to pass up.
I’ve covered off on some specifics for Australian authors on Aussie Owned and Read. In this post I’m looked at some more generalised learnings from the event that are applicable for any convention you attend.
Be easy to find
I knew I would be meeting so many people IRL for the first time, and I wanted to be easy to find. So I dyed my hair pink. And it worked like a charm. Now if everyone dyes their hair pink, the impact will be lost. But you can easily have your own style of clothing, accessory, or something that makes you easy to find.
Know your author brand and stick to it
There is a lot that makes up your author brand. I like to link mine to my personality as well as my writing. I like cute things, and there’s usually an element of cute in my writing, even though my stories are a bit darker and weirder. My husband designed my logo to be black and pink, so it was both dark and cute. I love cats, socks and cute dresses, so I predominantly wore cute outfits and had cute items at my sales area. I purposely left my cutest dress for the Giant Book Fair and it was a great talking point with people.
I met so many amazing people, both during the regular conference and on the book sale days. I would ask people what they liked to read, who they were excited to see at the conference, and other things along those lines. It started some great conversations and resulted in new readers as well as friendships being formed.
Coordinate your display
Being perfectly honest, a lot of my colour-coordination at my RT display happened by accident, while other things I planned. One half of my display was pink and black to align with my author brand. The other was black, red and green to match my book cover. The more books you have the harder it will be to completely match your books, but you should be able to find colours that will compliment your brand and books.
Think about your swag
There were a lot of book marks thrown away at the end of Romantic Times, which is a bit ironic seeing as it was a book convention. You need to have things that will attract people to you and your book, represents the nature of the event you are attending, attracts attention/be a talking point (from both people at the event and after the event) and, preferably, have longevity. Swag should be themed to align with your author brand or book.
Some of the ones that stood out for me were:
- Post-it notes
- Hand sanitiser (bottle, not spray)
- Culturally themed items
- Stress balls
- Tote bags
- Postcards (info about you and your books, including a QR code)
- Chapstick/lip gloss
- Stylist/pen combo
- Emery boards/nail files
- Cleaning cloth
- Temporary tattoos
- Travel tags
- Business cards (not actually swag, but a must).
- Shot glasses
Have a support network
My mum came with me as my personal assistant. She was an amazing support for setting things up, and for helping me with sales. It was also great to have her there for emotional support. In addition to Mum, I had a network of friends from Pitch Wars, City Owl Press, Lakewater Press and social media that helped me throughout the conference.
Volunteer to be part of the event
I was officially part of ‘What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas’ NA Party as well as the Pitch Wars Road Show. It was great to be officially part of the event, and to help people out. I had to stop myself from fangirling all over Jennifer L. Armentrout at the NA Party, reminding myself I was there to help.
Plan your sessions
There is a lot on at these types of events, and some sessions are very popular. Mum and I waited for about an hour outside of Entangled’s Candy and Spoons (which was awesomely fun), and we were a fair way down the line. Be aware of your priorities, and what will be popular. Think about what you want to get out of the event, and plan your attendance at sessions to help achieve this.
I spoke to so many people: readers, writers and industry professionals. Some networking happened at dinner, others in sessions, others at the bar (there may have been shots with agents, that was a lot of fun).
Please share your experiences and advice in the comments.