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Saturday, February 2, 2013

5 Con Tips from an Attendee

As most of my readers know I love attending fan cons and since this is a brand new year, I thought it would be a good idea to offer 5 Tips for attending a con.

1.) Plan ahead
        At the beginning of each year I look at what Cons will be happening locally. I tend to keep it as local as possible for various reasons, which I'll get into in each tip. I go to Google and type in Cons near my town and see what pops up. I sometimes will also ask people who are interested in the same subject I am if there is anything coming up near me. Make note of the dates, places and costs associated with each one.

2.) Budget
        Here's the tricky part. Everyone, especially these days, is on a budget. It's not like we can spend thousands and thousands of dollars on these Cons, unless you have that kind of money. Once you've made a list of the Cons that interest you, figure out how much each will cost. Factor in not only the Con fee but traveling, food, hotel, and free money for souvenirs for each one on the list. Then figure out how much you have, or are willing, to spend on Cons for the year.

3.) Pick which ones
       Once you have your list of the ones you're interested in and the cost associated with each, sit down and pick them out. Keep in mind if you're a writer or small business, would any of the Cons listed be beneficial to you and what you do? What are the workshops or networking opportunities offered? Since I am a Steampunk writer, I can use the Steampunk Cons as a write off. The same for any writing cons. For 2013 I'll be attending: GearCon, which is a Steampunk Con in Portland, OR; Kumoricon which is Anime in Vancouver, WA; Emerald City Writer's Conference in Seattle, WA (not a fan con); and possibly OryCon, which is a Sci-fi Con in Portland, OR. Each of these Cons offer workshops from writing to costuming to just the general thought process. Last year at GearCon I was able to sit in a class of Bartisu, which is a type of martial arts that uses canes. Sherlock Holmes used this style of fighting that was very popular with gentlemen of the Victorian era. Kumoricon was more about my children, but I learned some great costume ideas for women my size.
4.) What to take
        Make a list of the things you should take and what you need to take. Think about whether you're spending the night or the weekend. Or you might decide to go for only a day which means you only need to take what you need for that single day. If your money is tight and the registration fee doesn't include food, most Cons don't mind you bringing your own. Costumes, and how you are going to store them is something else to think about. When I go to Emerald City, my budget is usually just enough for dinner on Saturday night and becuse I'm usually up before anyone else, I take my own breakfast, usually bagels with cream cheese. When we go to a Con for a day we take a lunch and drinks.

5.) Have Fun
      And the best advice I can give you, is to have fun. These cons are meant to be a fun way to enjoy being with other people who enjoy the same thing as you. Sometimes lifelong friendships will start at a Con. You'll be amazed at the freedom it gives you.



Now here's a challenge for you. What Cons happen in your area? I'd also be happy to answer any questions you have.

6 comments:

Judith Ashley said...

I've never been to a reader-type con having only attended writer conferences. The way you describe them, they look to be a lot of fun! Great tips! with ideas that can be used when having more things we want to do than time and money to do them all.

Diana Mcc. said...

Hi, Mae! No Cons in Bend Or, so I guess I'd have to go to Portland. Great post!

maepen said...

Thanks! I use these same tips for the Writer Conventions or workshops.

Paty Jager said...

I went to my first reader conference last year with Jenna Bayley-Burke. It was a lot of fun and I plan to go to one a little larger this year in Colorado. I taught a workshop at the one last year, but this year unless they let me host a game, I'm just going as an author and mingle with the readers.

Those are all great points on Cons and I'm with Diana, I haven't heard of any Cons in the Bend area.

Stacy McKitrick said...

The cheapest con I've ever been to is also the closest to my home. Lori Foster's Reader/Author Get Together (Cincinnati, OH, 1st weekend in June) is only $50 for readers and $100 for authors. You pretty much get that back from the meals!

Another con close to my home is put on by the Central Ohio Fiction Writers (Columbus, OH, September). I learned a lot from the the I went to and the price was fairly reasonable (around $150, I think).

Neither are really fan conventions, but they were fun and great for networking (if you're a writer).

Sarah Raplee said...

Here in the Northwest, their are too many to name! A great resource is the webpage Nortwest Science Fiction Resources at http://www.sfnorthwest.org/northwestcons.html

Don't be fooled - they include Hawaii, Alaska, and the Rocky Mountain states, and they include events of interest to historical writers, like major Renaissance and costume fairs.