Saturday, May 4, 2013

Published Author Travels by Grace Burrowes

When the nice editor calls and says, "I'd like to publish your books," nobody warns you of some of the salient realities that go with publication. Among those realities, at least in the romance sphere, is attendance at conferences. One of the big conferences is the Romantic Times Booklovers Conference, which is going on in Kansas City as I write this.
Truly, RT, as it is known, is a fun time. The venues are chosen to accommodate people who want to connect--readers, authors, editors, agents, publicists, cover models, and others--and have a good time when they get together. Individual authors host parties and hospitality suites, publishers extend a welcome librarians, readers and booksellers; workshops cover everything from how Victorian gentlemen dressed from the skin out, to how to create an effective tagline.
What's an introverted author with a couple deadlines looming to do?!
The things that make a conference successful for me are small, though it has taken me a while to figure them out. HYDRATE like a camel, get at least an hour of quiet and solitude between forays across the lobby, among the workshops, and among the readers. Wear COMFORTABLE  shoes. Always have a give away book in my saddle bag, because when I don't know what else to say, "May I sign a book for you?" will often do.
ONE drink per evening.
Balance group encounters with one to one meetings.
Know that ANY sortie from the hotel room could result in a Facebook photo op.
I expect as time goes on, I'll get better at not only attending these gatherings, but enjoying them. I'll leave Kansas City with some ideas for next year, a renewed sense of camaraderie with readers and other authors, and a renewed appreciation for peace and quiet.
What about you? How do you travel comfortably, and if you attend conferences, how do you make them more enjoyable for you?
To one commenter, I'll send a $15 Amazon gift care, provided you leave some form of your email address with your comment.


  1. From those FB pictures I'm seeing, y'all are having a very good time. I think you covered it, Miz Grace, when it comes to surviving so much fun. See you in Atlanta where it all starts again.

  2. I don't travel very comfortably, but music I like to jam to and something to read (if I am not behind the steering apparatus) are essential... the only conference I have ever attended is Dragon*Con in Atlanta. I take my ibuprofen, say a prayer, and go have fun. I worry about hurting later. Have fun! Wish I could have gone!

  3. How do I survive a conference? I take a book with me. :) Um, there is nothing new under the sun and that is especially true in education. I have to sit through hours of professional development every year and I'm not sure the last time I learned something new/useful.
    As far as comfortable when I travel? Comfortable clothes are everything for me when I travel.

  4. I would love to attend a conference - I hear that there hasn't ever been one in MN - would love to travel to one - but never seem to know where in advance - You have some great tips - I did not see that you also have healthy snacks in your saddle bag as well - they will keep you going - almonds, cashews - raisins - chocolate of course - vitamins are good to have as well (b's & c's) conferences are notorious for germs - my email is yahoo. lynn2u54022 - hope to have a great time

  5. I forgot... Sorry...

  6. Alas, I've never made a conference. I almost got to one a few years ago when it was in my hometown but my sister canceled out on me at the last minute (with no excuse) and because of travel arrangements, I wasn't able to go boohoo. I agree about the shoes - stay comfortable when traveling and pack light!


  7. I don't believe I've ever been to a conference. If I were in your shoes I'd be looking for a potted palm or the like to hide behind. I wish there was an American Romance Readers group like in Australia as I'd love to get involved in it. How do readers get to attend the RT? Just curious.

  8. Remember that you are not the lesser of any author you meet. You have earned you place beside each one. There may be some difference between your work, why else would we readers enjoy and stayed tuned to each new work by said author. Wear a tasteful (or gaudy as heck)jacket incase you spill something on your blouse at the wrong time.
    Wish I had been there it is probably one of the closest ones that will ever be near me. But at least I have facebook to reach out and touch you all.

  9. Haven't been to one yet. Maybe bring a book for an author to sign

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  10. Hey, Grace, I love the camel drinking from the water bottle, too cute!!!

    Yes, true about being in photo ops and looking your best!!! :) Even my daughter said when she went to her own conference for dieticians, the whole group of them had to chill out and take a nap. It's so true that taking a break helps to center you and begin again. :) Have fun! That's the main thing! :)

  11. Hi Grace! Bring photos of your new baby (horse) to show off, have a pose picked out for your obligatory picture opp. and perhaps a lifesized cardboard of one of your nicer cover art shots ( Darius maybe...?), a tiny moleskin to jot down ideas, names & phone numbers, goldfish crackers for the munchies and a lumbar support pillow!

  12. I think those tips are great! This year I learned to make sure to pack for all weather conditions. It may indeed snow in May.

  13. Carolyn, the party lacks something without you and Cowboy. Atlanta, watch out!

    SMiller, I'm packing aspirin and I have a two good books.

    Sabrina, I'm so glad romance conferences stop at business casual, unless there's an awards ceremony involved. If I had to wear courtroom attire... well, I wouldn't attend.

    Lynn, I keep protein bars in my room, and whole milk in the mini-fridge, but you still have an excellent point about the healthy snacks. Easy to junk out at these things, and oh, so hard to get that indulgence whittled off.

  14. Great topic, Grace! I'm no authority on conferences, but here are a few survival tips I've found handy.

    Naps are essential! I attended my first RWA last summer, and learned all over again how necessary it is to take some time between sessions to just go up and rest. It's more tiring than you'd think to sit still and listen to people talk at/to you for several hours.

    While it's no hardship to be civil or even friendly to whoever you meet at a conference, there are times when anonymity isn't just desired, it's necessary. So, now and then, I've taken off my name badge and "gone off the radar."

    Pace yourself. There's no way you can attend every session, and you'll run yourself ragged trying. Take some time to decide what you'll enjoy most and what will help you most as a writer.

    Yes, to sufficient hydration, comfortable shoes, and portable snacks--all necessary survival tactics!

  15. Agree on water! I make sure we each have a bottle in our bags.

    For me, the first thing I always think about is which books to bring in my bag. Books have saved me from delayed flights, long queues, etc. --

    I also like to bring my own set of toiletries so that everything is familiar to me. (A little secret: when my son was still a baby, I'd take a bottle of his baby lotion with me because I always end up missing him. ^_^)

    The RT convention looked so, so, so much fun. ^_^

  16. Travel comfortably? There's such a thing? Please, someone, share your secrets!!!! ;-)
    Honestly, all I can say is: Good music/audio book, bottom/back rest, snacks, and good travel company :-)


  17. I used to be in education and I attended conferences yearly. I carried a large tote bag for all the stuff I gathered as I went about the day(s), emptying it at night in my hotel room. I made sure to eat enough and drink a lot of water. I tried to get sufficient sleep too. Above all, I tried to enjoy myself!! Hope this helps as I'm not an extrovert either.

  18. Good reading material, several crossword puzzles, lots of water and comfortable shoes make traveling easier for me. Take care of yourself and have fun, Grace.

  19. As long as I have a book to read and music to listen to, I'm good when traveling, that is unless I'm driving. Then the only thing that makes it bearable is to have someone to talk to or the radio to listen to. I've never attended a conference, but I have attended the RT and RWA author signings. For someone with social anxiety, it was hard to go to them all alone, and intimidating to go up to authors and not buy their books (I just can't afford to buy them all). But I learned that book lovers are all kindred spirits, and authors seem happy just to talk to you, sign a bookmark and have their picture taken. So despite being nervous and shy, I had a great time.

  20. I forgot to include my email: Barbed1951 at aol dot com. :D

  21. I admire the graciousness of all of you authors who listen countless repetitions of the same questions and comments from readers such as myself who are so thrilled to meet you in person. I bring candies, my favorite handcream (since I never hydrate like a camel, I am inevitably plagued with dry skin) and of course a book and a fairly voluminous totebag (for all of those books I collect from generous folks like you). And, I dress in layers along with those comfy shoes because I am inevitably too cold or too hot. Being me, I also usually have a booklight or flashlight because I like to be able to see and hand sanitizer because I have this thing about germs!

    elewkf1 at yahoo dot com

  22. I've only ever attended one conference (RomCon in 2010), but I was rather giddy about it. I tried to cling to at least one other person 'cause I'm a loner and if I didn't, I ended up just sitting in a corner, reading a book. Heh.

    Water when traveling is very important. Though when traveling across country 32 weeks pregnant with twins, drinking water is a challenge since you have to weigh regular bathroom trips versus swelling up like a balloon because you're not moving/drinking enough. Heh.

  23. Love the pic of he camel! I tend to enjoy the idea of travel much more than the reality of travel. I think I would make a fabulous travel agent or cruise director because I'm great at booking things and making plans. When it comes to actually doing the things I've planned is where the trouble starts!

  24. Absolutely--wear comfortable shoes has become my motto as I get older. Hubby and I went to (and ran) science fiction conventions, back in the day, so I'm there with you. Glad you had a good time and thanks for sharing!