I’m writing today about the cons of going to cons. I’m not talking about the monetary issues. That’s always a minus, though for most of us, it is a tax write-off. The thing that most of us don’t always worry about when we’re at a con is our health. Now for me, being gluten free, means I have to always worry about where I’m going to eat if I don’t bring food with me. Luckily there are apps out there I can use to help find great places to eat that are gluten free. But beyond that, it’s about the health. People attend these cons with colds, having been exposed to gods knows what and gods knows who– and with my compromised immune system– I’m just NOW getting over the cough and cold that I caught at Dragon Con. At first I thought it was allergies. Nope. Come to find out– it’s viral. *headdesk*
What are some of the other negatives for cons? Promo materials. They can eat a chunk of your expenses, even when you plan well for them. But I will say that Kiernan Kelly had some fantastic ideas for low cost promotion as did Kayelle Allen! Hanging out with them was something I will treasure always. Making some of your own promo is a great idea, especially if you’re crafty. I am, to some extent, so I’ll probably invest some time in making some unique gifts for giveaways at the next con I go to. Why? Because unique items that you can’t get anywhere else will stick in a person’s mind and they’ll be more likely to remember you and your books when they’re looking for something to read. I will say that paper goods are of limited use– though a really good bookmark or a pad of paper with your name on it will not go to waste! For me, it means pens, pins, neat things that other people haven’t thought of, plus a few chapter books. Those people want because they want to read what you’ve got!
Eating– OMG, you can eat so unhealthy at a con it’s not even funny! This came about because I saw so much junk food out and about it wasn’t funny. Even the food offered in many areas were burgers, fries and the like. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good burger and fries, but you can’t run on it for four days straight for lunch and supper. It’s not healthy and it won’t do your body any good nutrient-wise! If you can scout out the location of the con beforehand, online, search out for the closest affordable restaurants that are both healthy and offer a variety of foods– like a buffet and such. Why? This allows you to stock up on salad, veggies and to change up the various meats and carbohydrates you eat on any given day during the con. If there is a breakfast buffet at the hotel you’re staying at, take advantage of it! Make sure you also pack some water to drink during the day and some simple snack foods like raisins, granola bars and fruit. That will help keep you feeling good while you’re trucking back and forth to various venues. Trust me, this one tip is what kept me from wanting to pass out and die most days! LOL
Walking- If you’re not ready for it, you need to be. Most cons, unless you plan to be a party pooper and stay in your room until your panel– you’re going to be walking around. Which means you will be negotiating crowds and more. Make sure you bring hand sanitizer. Make sure you have good walking shoes. Not new shoes that you’ve not broken in, but good sturdy walking shoes that you can walk around in for over four hours. (I am not kidding- my shortest day I was at Dragon Con for 5 hours.) If you’re not used to walking a lot, start about a month or so in advance walking at home. Start by walking the block around where you live. Just a once or twice at a slow, steady pace. You can stop every so often and catch your breath. The idea is that you do this at least 4-5 times a week until you can easily walk at least one to two miles a day. The benefit? Walking the con will not kill you. I can walk 2 miles, no problem. Two miles at a con can kill you because of the stop and go traffic and sometimes all the standing in lines you do for things. Trust me, practice is a good thing! So get good shoes and prepare early!
Planning– many people say they’re going and they don’t plan their time wisely for the con. First– you can’t do everything you want anyway. You think you can until you realize that three of the events all take place at the same time. *GROWLS* So, you need to seriously plan out each day what is a MUST, what is a MAYBE, and what is IF WE CAN. This will help keep you sane and at the same time, will allow you a flexibility if you end up closer to one area where another event is after lunch than another event you wanted to go to originally. You might find it’s less crowded and you’ll get better seating! Also, by plotting out the wheres, the how-to and more, you will know if you’re bouncing back and forth between venues or if you’re having to go up and down between floors all day long. Also, you want to make sure you plan out time to eat and to honestly– take time to sit and relax. If you don’t, you’ll exhaust yourself and that will put you on track for getting sick. People in my family hate that I demand a plan for these things and even going to amusement parks– or at least they do until everything moves smoothly and no one misses out on the IMPORTANT stuff. Then suddenly, they’re so thrilled they got bugged and hounded by me. *rolls eyes* Trust me– this is the biggest thing you can do for yourself, even if you hate planning. Take the time the night before the con to plan out at least one day if not two days ahead on what you must see and do. That way, you will have a good basic strategy for that day one what you want to accomplish– even if half of it gets tossed out the door! Which it will, trust me!
The final thing to remember about cons– they’re fun. I know some people who look at them as a business only venture and they forget about the cool things. That is a negative aspect too. Yes, for authors and more– it is a business aspect– but don’t forget about having fun! I got to meet people who I am a fan girl for– people like Nene Thomas, John Barrowman, James Marsters, Bruce Boxleitner, and more. So, trust me– remember that you’re there not only to pimp yourself, but also to encourage others who are there doing the same. By taking that path of fun and enjoyment– you’ll have the best experience at a con you can.