Friday, June 6, 2014

Conference or Convention- Which One is for Me?

Howdy my friends!

One of the best parts of being a writer is having the opportunity to travel to different places and meet with other writers and readers. It feels as if every month there is a convention or conference somewhere, and I’m often asked by other writers which ones to go to and what is the difference between a conference and convention. At a glance they appear to be one and the same, but look closer and you will find the difference.

Let me start by mentioning how they are similar. Both are events that are a gathering of people that share a similar hobby, interest or profession. They both offer panels or workshops and opportunities to network and meet with others who share the same passions. Cons can be overwhelming, exciting and a hell of a good time.
So how are they different? Conferences are more business or industry orientated. It’s at a conference where you will learn the latest technique, the newest trends, how to do XYZ better. While at a convention the purpose is to celebrate whatever it is that has brought everyone together. Is there still learning or training offered at conventions? Sure, but that is not the sole purpose. Fun times and partying are the main goals of a convention. At least in my opinion. :)

Anna Alexander at Romanticon
We're not at a conference any more
There is no better example than to describe how I spent my October last year. Actually, let me go back a little further. Every October I attend the Emerald City Writers Conference in Bellevue, Washington. Notice the word “conference.” This is an industry driven event with workshops covering all aspects of a writer’s life from craft and marketing, to taxes and social media. There are pitch sessions available with editors and agents, and lots of chances to network with other authors. We do have our party moments as well. For several years I’ve hosted Drinks Divas and taken attendees to a local hotspot for cocktails. We have a party on Saturday night with a different theme each year, and our raffle baskets have become stuff of legends. ECWC has a reputation of being one of the best writer’s conferences to go to and it’s well worth the time and money.
Last year a week before ECWC I attended Romanticon in Canton, Ohio for the first time. Romanticon is a convention hosted by my publisher, Ellora’s Cave, to celebrate our books and our readers. On the surface both events appear similar. Both were about 300-350 people, offered pitch appointments, had workshop and chances to network. My first clue they were different was on day one when I walked down the hall and saw the twenty-foot tall posters of the Ellora’s Cavemen. Yep.  Definitely not something we have at ECWC. Then there was the display case of souvenirs available for purchase, such as leather handbags and glass dildo key chains. Yes, dildos. Most certainly not items offered at ECWC. So instead of attending workshops on deep point of view I attended BDSM Bingo and learned about phone apps that described different sex positions. See what I mean?

Let me tell you, it was quite the switch going from a weekend spent dancing with sweaty, shirtless men to a weekend talking industry trends with editors of the big publishing houses. Don’t get me wrong, it was well worth the jetlag. I enjoyed myself so much, I’m doing it again this year!
Anna Alexander at Romanticon 2014
My Thor Sandwich
Anna Alexander at Emerald City Writers Conference
Conference Guys
Anna Alexander and Tristan at RT2014
Convention Guy

Conventions and conferences come in all shapes and sizes, and not all of them are professionally put together. Do your research, ask your friends before plunking down your cash. Below I’ve listed a few writing-related events I have attended or have heard good things about, but I want to hear about more!

If you see me at an event, say hello and let’s go have a drink. J

Anna- The Super Diva

Conferences:                                                              Conventions:
Emerald City Writers Conference                           Romanticon

RWA Nationals                                                           RomanticTimes Book Lovers Convention (RT)             
BookExpo America                                                    AuthorsAfter Dark

Moonlight & Magnolias                                           RomCon
Pacific NW Writers Association Conference        Wild Wicked Weekend

Rose City Mini-Conference                                     Lori Foster Reader & Author Get Together

Find me!
Twitter- @AnnaWriter