What big name author is enough to get you to a conference?
Honestly? No one. Okay, before you throw tomatoes at me, there are a number of reasons.
#1 Big names at big conferences draw big crowds--what are the odds of getting any "quality" time with them if you don't already know them?
#2 As a professional writer, I'm at conferences to connect with readers of my work, both old and new. So I choose my conferences based on the kind of audience they draw. I'm more interested in which fans will be there than which "big" names.
#3 Conferences cost money (usually more than it would for me to travel abroad for a week! but then I'm a frugal traveler) and time, neither of which I have a whole lot of right now.
So that's the reality. But here's another reality--relax and let good things happen.
That's how I met the wonderful David Morrell at my first Bouchercon in Toronto. I said hello and told him I lived in Scotia, PA where he set several short stories, precursors to his First Blood novel.
We chatted and he personally escorted me to the very first International Thriller Writers meeting--where I then met tons of my other "gods" and "goddesses". It was at that same Bouchercon where I also met two of my all time thriller heroines: Lisa Gardner and Tess Gerritsen.
This led my becoming the Chair of the first ThrillerFest (a job Shane has this year for TFest #5) which led to my meeting Sandra Brown, Clive Cussler, Lee Child, and many, many more life-long heroes of mine.
Most important weren't the "big" names I had the chance to meet, but the many wonderful not-so-big-yet names who have now become my closest and dearest friends--some published, some unpublished, some writers, some readers, and all more valuable than any chance to shake hands with a "big" name in a bigger crowd.
If you're a writer and looking for networking opportunities, then get involved!
And for both, volunteer! You never know who you'll be teamed up with--you may end up driving Robert Crais from the airport or escorting Nora Roberts to a signing....
So who is your dream-come-true "big" name to meet?
As a pediatric ER doctor, CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge suspense novels. Her debut, LIFELINES (Berkley, March 2008), became a National Bestseller and Publishers Weekly proclaimed it a "breathtakingly fast-paced medical thriller."
The second in the series, WARNING SIGNS, was released January, 2009 and the third, URGENT CARE, October, 2009. Contact her at http://www.cjlyons.net