Book conventions aren't just for readers. For a writer, these events can be a unique, fun-filled experience — especially when a convention takes you overseas! Today we follow author Larissa Ione as she attends the first ever LoveLetter Convention in Berlin. Hosted by the German LoveLetter magazine, Ione shares with us what it was like attending, as well as some photos and tips for those who may want to go next year!
This year I had the awesome opportunity to attend the first Annual LoveLetter Convention in Berlin, Germany, and now that it’s over, I’m already looking forward to the next one.
The fact that I’m looking ahead to another LoveLetter convention says something about the event, because conferences tend to bring out the terrified wallflower in me. But early on the first day, when one reader told me that she and some friends had come all the way from Italy just to see me, I was so grateful and overwhelmed that my nervousness faded away. In fact, they were more nervous than I was – one lady said that her friend was near tears and shaking too hard to even come in the room to meet me. I wish I’d had a nice glass of wine for the poor friend, but we settled for hugs, and a few minutes later, I had new friends who I’ve shared emails with since. It was a wonderful way to soothe the nerves and start a conference!
So why should you attend? Well, for authors whose works have been translated into other languages (German, obviously, but also other European languages,) the conference, organized and hosted by LoveLetter Magazine, is a fabulous opportunity to meet readers you might not otherwise have a chance to interact with.
Larissa Ione with fellow authors at the LoveLetter Convention. Spot any familiar faces?
For readers, the benefits of attending are countless, but topping the list are factors such as price (the conference fee is reasonable, and they worked out special pricing at local hotels), the great goody bags, the chance to ask your favorite authors your most burning questions, and the opportunity to meet like-minded readers in a fun setting.
The language barriers are minimal — translators were active during panels, and most of the readers I encountered had at least some knowledge of the English language. I will say that I plan to learn at least basic conversational German before I go back … partly to help ease the slight communication gap and partly because outside of the conference, some knowledge is helpful. I was lucky enough to have my husband to help me navigate the restaurants, shops, and transportation systems of Berlin, but if I were to attend alone, I would have been a little intimidated.
But … I found it interesting that many — at least half — of the readers who attended the convention preferred to read the English versions of my books, which made conversations even easier. The events themselves were varied and fun, providing readers with dozens of choices every day, from Q&A’s with their favorite authors to trivia games, readings, and “blind dates” with authors. Two book-signings gave everyone the opportunity to nab free books and meet new authors, while giving authors a chance to chat with new readers.
Something else I really loved was that the location of the conference, in the Spandau area of Berlin, kept us away from the super-busy city while still affording a variety of shops, restaurants, and sightseeing activities within just a few blocks of the conference building. Believe me, I took full advantage of the location to eat local specialties, tour historic sights, and hang out with readers while we toasted our shared love of books and good beer!
Larissa with a new German friend!
So…yes, the beer and food were amazing, but I can’t talk about the conference without mentioning how well orchestrated it was. The German publishers were very actively involved in the conference, and I can’t thank them, and the staff and volunteers from LoveLetter magazine, enough. In my opinion, the event was a huge success, and as I mentioned earlier, I can’t wait to go back.
A couple of tips I’d like to share if you plan to attend: Book a hotel as close to the conference center as possible — if you aren’t familiar with the German transportation system, you’ll appreciate being close enough to walk (my feet want to remind you to wear comfortable shoes!) If you must take a taxi, be sure to ask what the fare will be before you get in the cab. You’ll likely get a lower rate than if you take the cab without negotiating a price beforehand. Most of all, be willing to step outside your comfort zone to try the food, meet the locals, and talk to conference attendees. Europe is a blossoming market for romance novels, and with any luck, the LoveLetter conference will grow every year, until it’s as big and successful as the conventions we see in North America!
Hope to see you in Germany, and for now, Auf Weidersehen!
- Larissa Ione