The Word: Working While Traveling – Convention Prep Advice, Tips, Item Reminders, and First Timer Help

I’m sure many of you have traveled because you’ve published a book. You must do signings, conventions, and appearances to help push your products to audiences and hopefully gain some new readers at the same time. I have done events in the past, probably more, but the biggest worry I had was how to prepare. What should I have with me? What would I need? How can I make sure I’m as ready as possible.The questions can mount quickly, especially for a someone doing their first event. Here are some tips to help you accomplish an event prep.

Plan Ahead

Before packing I highly recommend making an inventory list of everything that you can mark off as you’re packing. A single convention can take months to prepare for. Buying copies of your book, merch, and everything you’ll need to simply take with you.

Also before you start packing I recommend checking out the hotel’s website. See what they offer you, look closely at the rooms’ pictures on the website to get a good feel for what you may need. I brought my own coffee after finding out the coffee wasn’t very good or strong once.

Know your event’s schedule, what you will have to pay out of pocket for (like parking), and addresses to put into your GPS device.

Be Santa Clause

  • Make a itemized list of everything you’ll be taking, every item of clothing to every tiny piece of merch. You’ll be checking it twice if not three times.

Luggage

  • There’s a saying that the more totes, the bigger the truck, or if there’s a trailer behind a vehicle the bigger the vendor. From what I’ve witness it’s true. The more you have to pack the more you’ll use to haul the luggage and bins around.

Recommended Items to Pack/Don’t Forget

  • Three outfits per day. Some may call this much, but you never know what could happen. Hate to be the person walking around with the breakfast spill on your shirt all day. You’ll need one for event and if you feel like you need to change before dinner it’s best to have something different. Vendors sometimes have dinner together after a day of convention work.
  • Big bins are your best friend.
  • If you’re going to a convention or signing event in another state, the best advice I ever was given was to take no less than 50 of the first in a series with 25 or 30 copies of the rest of the books in the series. 50 copies of every other book you plan on taking with you. You may not sell everything or anything, but the best plan is plan to have more than you need just in case.
  • Take a laptop, its cords, its charger, and anything you need to have that laptop function. Whether its to play a book trailer on it, for someone to shop online for a book you may not have, or for you to use a laptop is key.
  • Bring a power strip. Sometimes you’re only given an outlet near your table, a power strip is the best thing to maximize its usages. Do remember not all places will provide power for your space, but if they do this is a must have.
  • Make sure you have a folding table. Some places will provide a table for you, but most of the time no. Make sure you take your table as a back-up.
  • Remember your ‘swag’ or your merch. Either to sell or to give out.
  • Don’t forget your tablecloth and/or signage. If you have a table cloth to fit the above mentioned table, great! Sometimes you don’t need it, but it’s always to get one. Sometimes the tables, if they supply, are rough and you want to make your spot ideal as possible. Signage is great to tell who you are, what you’re selling, or where they can get freebies! Also a table cloth is real handy in hiding any big blue colorful totes you used to haul your items indoors before the convention or signing began.
  • Bring display cases or book stands! This is option depending on what you want your space to look like. Shelving helps hold many items, especially if you have a lot of things and a small bit of space up front. A table can have books laying down on them, but a stand that’s upright can beautifully showcase your work.
  • Bring your business cards and their holder!
  • Phone and charger.
  • I’ve been told 50-100 petty cash, lock box for your money, a receipt book, and whatever device you need to make online sales through your phone or laptop.
  • Any table decoration you want to liven up your book displays, hold your swag on, and things that draw attention.

It seems like a lot, good because it is. Over time it’ll be routine though. You’ll be alright.


Quick Reminder Tips/Final Advice

What I did before traveling was to pre-pack everything in my tote and bags. This gave me a good idea how much room I was going to need before packing my vehicle. It also allowed me to head out first thing in the morning without worrying. First timers may not have much, I had a single tote once with two suitcases that held my clothing and my important items.

Remember as you’re packing to mark off your itemized inventory list (the thing mentioned earlier before the list here) and don’t get rid of it, pack it too. When you go to pack up to go home you will then have the list of everything you packed and reuse it as a checklist to make sure you pack everything up and nothing is left behind.

My first convention I ended up taking my table, one big blue tote with everything in it, two large bags of clothing (my husband/helper came with me) my laptop, and all my other items. I did an event locally to raise money for a school nearby. Took my tote, table, tablecloth, and all the books and items I had at the time. I also asked other indies to send me some of the swag they give out for free so I could help them spread the word locally.

After the event ended I got some sleep, and then was up again working on a story in the middle of the night ignoring the sounds from the hallway. I was posting on my social media through my laptop since I didn’t have a better phone at the time. As my husband was driving I also caught some more sleep.

Some authors give out candy, I don’t recommend it. I have talked to me that tried this and discovered that people would come up to grab the candy and keep going. It brings people to the table, yes, but not to stay, not to buy, and not to talk for longer than it takes to get themselves a few pieces. I’m sure some would disagree with me on this though.


Worried how to get hold of some of the items mentioned, like swag items? Don’t worry I’ll be doing another post about swag/merch help.

Did this piece help you? Let me know in the comments! I knew this was something I was going to eventually post. I haven’t done many events, but this mainly what I do, advice I’ve been given and practiced, and recommend. Got a piece of advice I forgot?Let me know!

Pre-order: Crossroads in the Dark – Beyond the Borders

My short story The OWLS is in this collection and great news it’s up for pre-orders right now, currently it’s 99 cents what a deal! Check out the free sample below or buy from Amazon!

Synopsis:

Crossroads in the Dark V: Beyond the Borders

A light in the darkness followed by a young boy. An infestation set to take over the warm Florida coastline. A robot that finds his inner strength. From a derelict ship with dark secrets to enlighten to a politically correct future to trouble for a team of scavengers, and weirdness along a country road… 

Welcome back to the Crossroads for a fifth volume. Beyond the Borders is a collection of volatile stories about fantasy, horror, and science-fiction from some of the best in independent writing. Every page is ready to be turned with anticipation for the next twist as your thoughts race with fear of what will come next. For these tales are pure heart-pumping entertainment and told by some of the most unique minds in the science-fiction world. 

Stories from: James Master, Bryan Tann, Nikki Collins-Mewha, S.L. Kerns, Donna Marie West, Joseph J. Madden, David H. Johnson, Brian G. Murray, Josh Matthews, Veronica Smith, Cindy Johnson, Kerry Alan Denney, Jeffrey G. Roberts, Edward Kenyon, Jeff Prebis, Carol Browne, David Solar, Frank Martin and L. Bachman.

All profits for this anthology will be sent to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital Network in hopes that one-day medical science will catch up to science-fiction and be able to cure childhood cancer and disease. 


You can also click this link to go to the page.

Story Time: The Day Seattle Died

The Day Seattle Died is the term that had been given to the day April 5th. The first wave hit in 1994 with the death of Kurt Cobain and the second wave hit in 2002. Both days I can remember only the announcements, how they made me feel, and how I reacted. I cannot remember what I was doing before or after, but these have always been pushpins in my timeline. I’ve had many conversations with why people didn’t like Cobain, why people didn’t like grunge music, or why it was all ‘dumb’, but for me these were important events in my life, important enough to me to remember them.

I grew up on a healthy diet of my family’s musical tastes. My dad served me The Doors, Foghat, Fleetwood Mac, Steppenwolf, Mamas and the Papas, Uriah Heep, Jim Croce, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and other artists he grew up with, loved, or heard while he served. My mother served me platefuls of The Statler Brothers, Johnny Cash, other country music artists, and gospel artists to even me out. My sibling added his touches, salt and peppering my early life with the music of the time. He left the television on MTV when he was around, so I ultimately would be introduced to other musicians of the times. This is how I learned of Nirvana originally.

With all that, as one may assume correctly, I was constantly hearing decades gone by and what was ‘dope’ or ‘da bomb’. My dad played guitar or sang almost all the time. It was my signal he was, in the very least, in a decent mood. My mom sang when she cooked, cleaned, and sometimes at bed (something I do for my child and yes some same songs, they’ve got their own groove in my grey matter. Check out You are my Sunshine by Johnny Cash, released in 1969).

The First Wave Hitting

I remember watching Nirvana Unplugged in late 1993. Like everyone else, I was unaware that only a few months after its airing Cobain would be gone. I was in 3rd grade, still, when the announcement popped up on MTV (This was days after he had died and when the public learned of the news on April 8th, 1994). I had just turned the television on and it was already flipped to MTV, my sibling had been there at some point. At first, the announcement was a little crawl at the bottom of the screen and then it was an interruption of Kurt Loder releasing the information.

I saw the original of this:

I can remember being sad and confused. This was the first time I’d ever heard of suicide and didn’t know what it meant. I had yet to learn how troubled someone must be to attempt much less succeed. One of my parents came in and asked what I was watching and telling them Kurt Cobain had died. I can’t remember which one came in, but remember it was one of them. I also remember them telling me they didn’t know who I was talking about. “He’s the singer of Nirvana,” I explained. Their reply, “changes nothing, I still don’t know who they are.”

The announcement was all I really remember from that day. Later, several days later, eleven to be exact I have discovered, I remember seeing Eddie Vedder’s tribute via a ‘K’ on his shirt because someone in the house was watching Saturday Night Live when it happened.

The Second Wave

I was in 9th grade listening to the radio when I heard that Layne Staley had died. I instantly thought of the previously shared memory. I was older then. I understood what suicide is by this point and even how destructive drugs are on those taking them and the loved ones around a user.

It hit me like a ton of bricks. I cried. I didn’t just tear a little I full blown blubbered and shook crying to the news. My sibling came in to see what was going on and I told him. I remember destruction crossing his face; he was sad too. My sibling and I don’t get along very well for many reasons. The actual brother/sisterhood we share is almost non-existent. We rarely shared decent moments through my life, this was one of those few times. In that moment, we were both broken. I do feel it was also in that moment my sibling realized I knew more about music than he ever had cared to wonder before and how greatly it affected me.

I can remember the next day still being sad walking the halls of my high school. No one else had been affected. It was as if it hadn’t even happened. I wasn’t expecting the halls to be filled with crying girls and somber statues made of the male gender or anything (Not like the devastation I witnessed of my classmates when September 11th happened). It bothered me how it was different for everyone else. I’m sure many of them didn’t even know who he was, most of my classmates loved either hip-hop, gospel, or pop.

I loved Alice In Chains and still do, very much so.

Frank Micelotta, Getty Images

As an adult, I’ve seen two more major hits to the list of my favorite bands of my childhood. In 2015, on my birthday to boot, Scott Weiland of Stone Temple Pilots passed. Two years later, Chris Cornell died. In my post 90s Kid Alert, I talked about watching my childhood fade away. The day Chris Cornell died; May 18th, 2017 was one of those days that again made me sad. I felt the music of my life was slipping between my fisted fingers. I was grasping for some happy memories of my life.

In those fists I held the music I grew up with. Music always made me happy. All those days and nights I danced, head-banged, and transported myself somewhere else became more realistic. Life was hitting me with its shittiest branch–the one called reality. With the death of Mr. Cornell, those like me that loved ‘grunge’ music have been left with one singer of my generation, a damn good one too–Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam and Temple of the Dog.

I recommend reading this article from Loudwire to read more about Cobain and Staley. I also recommend reading this article from The Economic Times about Chris Cornell and Eddie Vedder.

Interesting Reads and Related Content

Introducing the Media Page

It’s probably overdue, but I added a media/press page for the site. As a professional I need to have something like this where everyone can find all the press/podcast/whomever is talked about me. Right now, there are several links to online podcasts I’ve appeared on for interviews, topic discussions, or something else. I do plan on adding more as I find them.

This would be great if you have the need to hear me. I cried in one once back in the day. Got emotional while talking about what writing can do for someone and what it did for me. Make a game of it to find it, call it ‘Bachman’s a Baby Hide-and-seek’. Good luck champions!

Go to the media page

Have you found something I haven’t listed, help me out by commented below so that I can add it to the list. Please.

The Word: Help with Word Counts (Infograph by Length)

I’ve seen it many times before where a writer gets lost in a word count and begins chopping at their story to meet a demand or out of nerves thinking their work is too long to be a short story or novel. I decided to create my own infograph to help with this.

Remember, this is to be used as a guide for a goal and not to measure. So use before you finish! Different publishers and agents will have their own guides of what they prefer, but this infograph is to get a very good idea of length. There are different graphics I’ll be making for genre expectations.

Remember, a story is to be based on quality not quantity. I’ve witnessed long books be complete rubbish and shorter ones be excellent. It’s the story that counts not the word count. (See what I did there? Har har)

Some of my favorite modern artists (dark, whimsy, and surreal)

I’m constantly on my Instagram. It wasn’t always like this, but with a beautiful gift of a phone upgrade I have been able to discover a whole new world I never knew about that introduced me to so many wonderful artists! Now, these artists’ styles may not suit you, but I absolutely love them. I have been able to follow all of these artists better with Instagram, but a few were not discovered there.

I, sadly, will not be sharing their art here for copyright reasons, but definitely check them out. I did do my best to describe their style though.


Mary Doodles

This artist was one of the ones I did discover first on Youtube, but after joining Instagram I was able to see her work more often. Check out her website. She has a dark whimsy that I love. I have attempted many of her tutorials on her Youtube channel. This artist has inspired me so much in the art-creating realm. She was there, though she doesn’t know it, when I needed to try something new. Check out her Instagram account. It’s hard to narrow down which of their work is my favorite. I do love what she has done featuring Stranger Things.

Brian Serway

I can’t remember the day/night, but I came across a beautiful artwork of a celestial image of an animal. I didn’t know the artist and still haven’t found them, but while flipping through Instagram I discovered Brian Serway. He does some of the most beautiful dark/night celestial animals and scenes. Check out his website or his Instagram account.

Felix Dolah

This artist’s style is hard to describe. There’s something about the long-legged people they create that has me super interested in their work. It’s not often that I can’t figure out why I like someone beyond them being eye-catching and beautiful creators. This person is a mystery to me. I have noticed their art has become popular tattoos. Maybe I’ll find one to get for myself. I found them originally on Instagram, you can find them at their Instagram account and find some of their work at Nadia Arnold, an online gallery. There you can see some of my favorite works called ‘flies in a head‘, ‘Fighting moods‘, and ‘Reigny day‘. I also love their work featuring plague doctors. I have a soft spot for those.

Daniele Serra

Some of the things, as a graphic artist, I end up being apart of on Facebook is groups. People sharing their favorite artists, recommending, and people trying to get some work for themselves. At one point, Clive Barker, put out a contest looking for an artist for the cover of a book and it popped up in one of the groups I’m in. I’m a fan of Barker’s work and kept up with this eventually the winner was announced and that is when I was introduced to this artist. I eventually found them on Instagram and their website. Their work has a dark style to it, but it’s just so beautiful. I eventually learned he had done work for Stephen King. I eventually found videos of him working and even a small interview. I highly recommend checking them out, all their work.

Wolfskulljack/Michelle

Like Brian Serway, this art has done some celestial animal images, but though their celestial animals are beautiful, my favorite images that they have created aren’t those, but their detailed monsters. Some of their work has even been featured on Anchorage Brewing Company ‘s products. I found them on Instagram so check them out, then discovered their website, and found them on Facebook. I recommend giving them a gander.