by Kathleen Ernst
I’m back from my fourth Bouchercon, in San Francisco. I’ve attended a variety of mystery cons over the years, and honestly? I’m more at home at smaller gatherings. (Keith, I’m in awe of your networking ability!)
That said, though, I did enjoy the convention! Here are my top reasons why:
1. First and foremost, meeting readers. The opportunity to connect one-on-one is terrific. It often takes place informally. I try to strike up conversations with people I’m in the elevator with, sitting next to while waiting for a panel to start, waiting for the trolley.
I’d never been to San Francisco before, so I took advantage of the tour on Thursday morning. I enjoyed getting an overview of the city, and had fun chatting with some of the other travelers.
2. Meeting long-time writer-friends. In our biz, we’re often isolated geographically from our pals. I have friends I only see at these conferences, and it’s great to catch up.
3. Meeting new writer-friends. Names I’ve connected with on Listservs or blogs are now real people.
4. Being a MInker! It was fun to spend some time in the MI booth, with the wonderful array of titles spread out to entice passers-by. I think Steven Pomije could have sold cartons of books if that had been permitted.
Being in the booth also reminded me that while so many publishers are cutting their mystery lists, MI is going strong. Lots of people who stopped by had great things to say about the imprint.
5. Seeing—from a distance, usually—some of my own stars in the mystery world. Where else can you hear what Sara Paretsky has to say about maintaining tension, or listen to Dana Stabenow interview Laurie King, or attend a party thrown by Lee Child?
6. Meeting, or hearing from, industry professionals—reviewers, magazine publishers, editors and agents. It’s a great chance to hear what people in the biz think is hot, or not.
What was a bit more of a bummer: Not getting to see some of the people I’d hoped to introduce myself too. That includes some of my fellow MI authors! Bouchercon is so darn big it’s easy to miss folks. And I wish I’d had more time to explore San Francisco. (Chinatown was pretty cool.)
I’ll always find Bouchercon a bit overwhelming. But every time I go I make a few more contacts, and a few more friends. If you see me wandering the halls next year, be sure to say hi!
So…what’s your favorite conference, big or small?