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The Ultimate Convention Survival Guide For Bloggers

2014 RT Convention logo

Are you as excited as we are about RT 2014 in NOLA? Because we are really, really excited. And we want you to make the most of your time with us, so today we've got book blogger and reviewer Jennifer Morris from Books Make Me Happy with some great tips on how bloggers can maximize their RT time. These tips are not only great for RT, but for any book-related conference bloggers may find themselves at.

Take it away, Jennifer!

Getting ready for literary convention season can be a three ring circus of Barnum & Bailey proportions. Juggling day jobs, family obligations and deadlines is a tough act for authors, especially, but bloggers and other fans, as well. I'm usually pretty good at putting together a plan and making lists, but things inevitably get forgotten. I usually go to conventions in full-on fangirl mode, but as a first-time RT Convention attendee, I'm hoping to do a bit more networking for my blog. Which brings me to the following list of “blogger survival tips” for RT14.

1. Business Cards – Business cards are very inexpensive and can be as simple or as elaborate as you want. If you're a blogger, business cards are a must. They're a quick, easy way to share your site info and help people you meet at the convention find you afterward. Be sure to include your blog site address along with your social media information. If you order them NOW, and pay just a bit extra for expedited shipping, you'll have them in time.

2. Update Your Site – This isn't really specific for conventions, but if you're doing no. 1 on my list, you need to be sure that anyone who USES your business card to visit your site sees current information. Be sure to clean off old blog tour buttons, or any unnecessary clutter. Present your best blog “first impression,” along with your sparkling personality.

3. Datebook – Bring a small datebook or planner. Be sure it's up to date with all of your already scheduled posts, so you can easily see when you have space available. There won't always be time to sit with an author or publicist to decide post dates. But when there is time, you don't want to have to guess if/when you have a date open.

4. Small Notebook – As an addendum to having your datebook handy, a small notebook is perfect for fun, quick Q&As. This is something that can be done after a panel, before or after meal times, or at the bar. Politely mention your blog (present your business card) and ask if the author has time for two or three quick questions. Make them easy to answer, and try to have some kind of theme. Not everyone will have time, but if you're courteous, you'll be surprised how many have a few minutes to chat. These little quickie sessions can be put together to make awesome blog posts when you get home.

5. Street Team Swag – If you're on an author's street team ... show it!!! If you've got a tote bag, use it, if you've got pens, hand them out. There will be a LOT of fans there, and introducing new people to the authors you love (and giving them your blog's business card so you can enjoy them together) is all part of the fun. Obviously, following non-obnoxious, common sense policies about street teaming apply.

6. Swag Storage – There will be a LOT of swag flowing through NOLA. Between what's readily available, and special goodies that authors bring especially to share with bloggers, you'll have a treasure trove of giveaway material for your blog. Be sure to have a bag of sorts with you that is easy to carry, but will protect those signed cover flats and fancy shot glasses. Try to schedule time in your day to unload things back in your room so you don't have to carry too much stuff and you can keep your swag protected.

7. Know YOUR Schedule – Take some time to check out the programming schedule BEFORE you arrive. Make notes about the events you simply canNOT miss, and those you'd like to see, but can skip if something comes up. Don't miss out on the blogger specific programming that's offered. Even if you've been blogging for years, there are cool new ideas to be had, and new blogger friends to make, during those panels.

8. Look for blogger sign-up lists at individual publisher panels – I've seen many a panel dedicated to an individual publisher that had a blogger contact sign-up form somewhere in the room. This is a great way to let publishers who's books you enjoy know that you'd like to work with them on promotion. Keep in mind, this is a two way street: you get perks, you help promote. It's a win/win situation, and what makes the blogger/publisher relationship so fantastic.

The last two items on my list are standard for anyone attending, and things you've probably seen before, but I'm going to add them here, just in case you've missed them elsewhere.

9. Don't Forget To BRING THESE THINGS: Camera (if your phone camera stinks), Phone/Camera Charger, External Battery, Power Strip (there are NEVER enough accessible electric outlets), Pens/Markers, Books (that you want to have signed), First Aid Kit (travel size), Tissues, Hand Sanitizer, Snacks/Water, ID/Credit Cards/Cash, Printed Out Tickets (for any ticketed events), Umbrella (travel sized, if you have plans to leave the hotel), Emergen-C or Airborne (con crud is the suck, you don't want it).

10. Don't Forget To DO THESE THINGS: Make time for “real food” meals (check out local eateries ahead of time if you have dietary limitations), plan meet ups with friends and online acquaintances, wear comfy shoes. To save room in your luggage (if you're flying) check out the shipping options from the hotel for your goodies, shower (you'd think this would be a no-brainer... you'd be wrong), SLEEP — staying up all night sounds fun until you're snoring through a panel the next day, drink responsibly, be patient and remember that everyone is there to have a good time.

- Jennifer Morris

Thanks, Jennifer, for stopping by with some great tips! We'll see ya in NOLA. If you've got a great con survival tip for bloggers, leave it in the comments! For more convention news you can use, visit our con site here