Conventions—The Advanced Class for Dedicated Fans

by Gail Z. Martin

How can you get more out of your con going?  Here are some ideas to increase your con pleasure.

Take a look at the program , if possible, before you go to the event.  Some cons manage to get the program more-or-less finalized far enough in advance to put the program on the web site.  If you can see the program before you go, you’ll know what your must-do events are and you can agonize over scheduling conflicts far enough in advance to create a plan of action.

Look over the guest list of writers, artists and celebrities.  See if any of your favorites are going, and look for meet-and-greet or special events that showcase those people.  Especially for guests of honor, there are usually special panels and events that are all about them.  Those are ones you won’t want to miss.  For non-GOHs, look for readings, signings and panels where you can get a chance to shake hands, ask a question or get a book signed.

Don’t forget to factor in the video and anime schedules, so that you don’t miss a hard-to-find favorite.  And check the party board as soon as you arrive and then at least once before 5 p.m. to know where the night life is happening.

At smaller cons, there is no separate green room for GOH or panel participants, so you run a good chance of meeting people in the con suite.  If you’ve got your heart set on making a personal connection, best times are during the breaks your favorite author has between panels.  Just be polite and don’t talk so long that you make him/her late for the next panel!

Want to be a SMOF? (Secret Master of Fandom)  Be visible for all the right reasons.  Promote the event before, during and after on social media.  Blog, tweet, post on Facebook and upload photos (all with the intent to make sure everyone looks good).  If the con permits photos and video clips, do mini-interviews with other con-goers and the non-GOH guests (GOH will be booked).  Have a podcast?  Plan to do at-con interviews and set up a schedule in advance with the non-GOH guests.  Anything you can do to be helpful and promote the con will put you on the way to SMOF-dom.

Cons can be expensive, so here are some budget tips.  Although it’s nice to stay at the con hotel, nearby hotels can be a lot cheaper, and  may only be a block or two away.  You could save enough just with this tip to pay your food bill for the rest of the con.  Get a fridge in your room and buy your food (and adult beverages) outside of the hotel.  If you can’t find a quik-mart in walking distance, think about ordering out for delivery food to avoid high-cost hotel meals.  Many room parties also supply late night beverages and munchies, so you can have fun and save money at the same time.  Offer to volunteer.  Cons always need more helpers, and especially if you’re local or can come in early, volunteering can be a way to get free or discounted con admission, plus you might have the chance to spend more time with some of the GOHs or other guests.

Oh, and make sure you have a great time—that’s what it’s all about!

 

 

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