Surviving The 2012 RT BOOKLOVERS Convention

T-minus 13 days until the 26th annual RT Booklovers Convention. Which means it’s time for us to share our top 10 tips for making the most out of the upcoming five day extravaganza of fun!

1. Smart Shoes Are Key

We’ve all got that pair of shoes (or pairs of shoes) that make us feel great. They may be strappy sandals, kicky heels or a killer pair of boots. However, no matter what they look like, they may make other women swoon in envy but they also make us swoon in pain by the end of the day. Our advice — sport your tennis shoes or ballet flats during the day and save the fancy footwear for the evening parties!

2. It’s Okay, Shipping is Available!

Speaking of those parties, from a Scottish-themed fairy ball to the gangster bash, with events every night, you can expect to do a lot of costume changes. There are also tons of chances to pick up great swag, free books and merchandise to please the booklover’s soul. (Why hello, giant Goodie Room, you are correct - we’d like to take everything inside of you back home with us.) Unfortunately, this lands you (and the limited space in your luggage) smack dab in the middle of the eternal debate over which to save space for: books or clothing. Luckily, we’ve got an answer that will ease your heavy burden. There’s shipping available at the hotel so grab all of the goodies that you can and feel free to pack your luggage with great outfits; anything that doesn’t fit inside your suitcase can be shipped back home to you.

3. A Road Map For Maximizing Your Time With The Big Authors

If you are a reader on a mission to score maximum time with big name authors, this year’s program will be a particular treat. We suggest that you target the Author Chats (which come in the following flavors: Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal and Mystery). But also plan to get a lot of your face-to-face time in during Thursday’s E-Book Expo and Graphic Novel Fair and Saturday’s Giant Book Signing. Plus, this year we are adding even more opportunities for author interactions during Saturday Evening’s first annual FAN-tastic Day Party. The event will give you access to some of your all-time favorite authors including James Rollins, Jennifer Blake, ReShonda Tate Billingsley, Loretta Chase, Jeaniene Frost, Charlaine Harris, Brenda Jackson, Lora Leigh, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Nalini Singh and J.R. Ward.

4. Keep A New Friend Pick-Up Line Handy

RT Conventioneers are two things: book-loving and friendly. So even if right now you don’t know anyone else attending, by the end of the weeklong convention you will have made a whole host of new friends from across the globe. So when you find yourself sitting next to a stranger at a morning mixer, an evening event or even just before a panel starts, you can bust out a guaranteed conversation starters to get the ball rolling. Some of our favorites are: What book are you reading right now? Which genres do you prefer? Who is one of your auto-buy authors?

5. Costume Up!

At convention we go all out with our costumes. We kid you not, last year two women from Australia toted all the fixings to make gorgeous full-sized wings — and then built them while at convention! This year we are going to get a whole new batch of parties. On Wednesday there will be the Ellora’s Cave Chi-Town Hip Hop Stomp & Step Party, to which we suggest some clothing that is comfortable, stylish and will show off “what your mama gave you”. Next up, on Thursday night we’ll be partying until the clock strikes midnight at the Clan McFae’s Magical Scottish Fling (and you better believe that we can’t wait to scope out some very sexy Kilted men). Friday, pack your twenties’ gear because we’ll be channeling the prohibition era for RT’s Gangster Cafe Talent Quest. Then, Saturday night it will be all about the glitz and glam for Harlequin’s Night of the Stars. It may seem like a tall order to stay stylish for each of these events, but you won’t be alone — in the weeks until convention kicks off, we too will be combing through our closets, planning shopping sprees and putting our sewing skills to good use in order to arrive with some excellent party-appropriate outfits

One of the Australian ladies with her wings!

6. Three Basic Book Fair Tips

There are a few things you should know before heading into one of the two annual book fairs. Number one, gushing is not just allowed, it’s encouraged! Feel free to let your fan flag fly at the book signings. Authors love to hear about how much you love their work. Hey, they put a lot of time — not to mention blood, sweat and tears — into their stories. Number two, you are allowed to bring your personal library to get signed (although there’s a 2 books per author maximum). And three, possibly our best tip when it comes to Saturday’s Giant Book Fair: get there early — doors open for conventioneers before they open for the general public.

7. Tote A Big Bag: You Will Be Picking Up Swag

Free stuff will be everywhere you turn. There will be candy, bookmarks, and excerpts floating around. However, authors also get inventive with their promotional swag. (We are still carrying around our favorite item from last year, Sherry Thomas’ tiny tins of shea butter with the cover of her latest release on the front!) So expect to see all sorts of useful things like portable reading lights, reusable book covers, do not disturb signs, eye masks and much, much more. (A tip from an RT convention pro: swing by Promo Lane bright and early each day and again after lunch to score the very best items.)

8. Aspiring Authors, Get Your Elevator Pitches Ready

If you’re a writer trying to court an editor or literary agent, there will be plenty of opportunities at convention. If you have a certain special someone in mind, make sure you schedule a time to meet them or attend Pitch-A-Palooza (a "speed dating"-style event where every attendee gets 3 minutes with each industry professional, including agents, editors and other publishing pros). Each conventioneer is limited to meeting with one editor and one literary agent for editor and literary agent sign-ups, so if you want to pitch to more than one editor or agent, and Pitch-A-Palooza isn't your style, it’s handy to come up with a 30 second pitch if you happen to bump into an industry bigwig or two during convention — hey, you never know who you might meet in the elevator!

9. Stock Your Business Cards in your Lanyard

A key to being memorable is to make sure that you have easy access to your business cards and because your name badge will be around your neck for most of the week, it’s a simple place to put them. Whether you are an author, an industry insider, a bookseller or simply an enthusiastic reader, it’s a good idea to make sure to have some of these little cards within arm’s reach at any moment. One of the RT editors was quick to point out that she collects these cards at convention and then uses them all year long as sources for articles, blog posts and more.

10. Bring Your Energy!

Although this may seem like a no-brainer, it is possibly the best advice we can give to convention attendees. There are special events from early in the morning until late at night each day, plus you'll spend time hanging out with your new convention buddies. So the number one most important thing to bring with you to this year's convention is your energy. It's go, go, go and you won't want to miss a moment of the fun!

Are you a RT convention pro with your own tips to share with newcomers? Leave them in the comments below! (First time RT convention attendees should also be sure to check out the RT Virgins Workshop on Wednesday at 9:30 am.) For more information about the 2012 RT Booklovers Convetion, click here.