Bouchercon 2019: Conference Survival Tips

Because Bouchercon was such a weird experience this year, I’ve made the executive decision to not do a review. Instead I’ve bothered all my writer friends for their writing conference survival tips.

Conferences are awesome! You learn stuff! Make friends! But they’re also a lot. Networking! People! Microaggressions!

I’m pretty bad at coming through a conference in a healthy and responsible manner (I at least do the sleep-eat-shower thing), so here are smarter people than me giving you their best conference survival advice.

Scariest thing at the conference: the Book Critic

Multi-award winning, SinC Member at Large, CWoC co-creator Kellye Garrett – “Take breaks!”

Multi-award winning, SinC President Lori Rader-Day – “Get your own room so you can hide.”

Guppies Member at Large, author Mary Feliz – “Know which friends are going. If you don’t know anyone, ask your professional organization. Arrange to meet for lunch, drinks, dinner, or a walk outside the hotel. Get outside the hotel. Write out your schedule beforehand and bring it with you. It’s so easy to forget details.”

Past president of the Virginia Writer’s Club, author Betsy Ashton – “Check your ego at the door.”

Chessie SinC chapter VP, author Grace Topping – “As soon as you get the schedule, mark the sessions you want to attend. There are so many sessions competing for your attention. Have a plan. If you have bookmarks or business cards, carry some with you and give them out. Put some out in the hospitality room for anyone to pick up.”

2020 debut author Tanya Agler – “Drink plenty of water; it’s easy to become dehydrated.”

SinC member, author J.C. Kenney – “Nobody is taking attendance, so don’t feel bad about skipping a session. Time hanging out chatting with others is as valuable as time in session.”

2019 debut author Natalee Cooper – “Go with a purpose. Always bring a sweater/jacket. Remember to fit in some downtime.”

And, when I asked everyone for their advice, Heather Weidner busted out a whole blog post she wrote! (See if you can find my hair in the back of one of her pictures.)

The advice I got the most frequently when I asked around was “don’t be afraid to take breaks” and “don’t feel guilty about hiding in your room occasionally.” It turns out everyone is a introvert! Even you’re an introvert! (Lucky guess.)

So take your cutest sweater, grab those expensive bookmarks, buy a water bottle, and enjoy those convention naps.

5 thoughts on “Bouchercon 2019: Conference Survival Tips

  1. Oh yes!! The water bottle. Everyone is always always thirsty from the dry air and SO MUCH TALKING. Drinking tons of water helps me breathe, think, and cope!


  2. Maybe I should just accept this massive flaw of mine, and my massive need for hydration and order a crate of water bottles with my marketing info on them. Then I could pretend that by leaving my water bottles all over, I was actually doing deliberate marketing. šŸ™‚


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