Best and worst experiences at conventions? That’s easy, too easy, really. For this assignment, I’ve chosen two “conventions” (authors + fans + others in the publishing industry).
The bad news first: Last year, I had a new book out with a new publisher. I splurged for Malice Domestic in Washington, D.C. for the first time, thinking it was a perfect launching event. Oh, was I wrong. In spite of registering early and getting my photo and bio in early, I was left out of the printed program. And the booksellers couldn’t get my book even though it was the very week THE KING’S JAR launched. I was on a couple of panels, but otherwise had no obvious connection to the convention. I had depressing fantasies of people at the bar whispering, “Who is that woman and how did she get in?” So there I was, feeling like a total fraud, invisible in the large crowd of authors, apologizing, explaining, trying to be a good sport and not to whine…Disaster all around! Should I have brought books? Maybe, but my publisher had promised to make them available. Carting books across country isn’t easy. I had thought I was blessedly free of that.
Having gotten that bad memory out of the way, the best was this year’s Left Coast Crime. The committee that worked for two years on it made it a sparkling success; the attendees were happy and engaged; the bookseller had both of my books. Best of all, I couldn’t go 10 feet without bumping into someone I knew, someone who wanted to say hello, or suggest we share a coffee break, or inquire about my book while telling me their latest success. I heard this from scores of friends: It felt like the best reunion of pals you could wish for. My agent was there with plans for my next book, and the Amazon team (my first book is now with them because the initial publisher sold its entire back list to Amazon) took their authors out for a wonderful, laugh-filled dinner. The perfect weather in Monterey just underscored the positive mood. If that wasn’t enough, a Criminal Minds pal, Catriona McPherson, won an award for her latest Dandy Gilver book and a half dozen of the other finalists in different categories were Sisters in Crime and/or Mystery Writers of America chapter members and friends.
Good memories trump bad ones, and this convention set me up for a spring and summer of refreshed writing.