As soon as I started publishing mysteries in the mid-nineties, publicists and my editors urged me to go to the mystery conferences, especially Bouchercon.
I went, year after year, to half a dozen different conferences including one at Oxford, and I discovered that Bouchercon is in some ways highly over-rated.
I loved meeting fans there, and running into authors I admired. But I had more time with Walter Mosley when our paths crossed in Texas once than at BCon. And with some other famous authors at BCon, I got the sense the motor was running and they were waiting for someone more important to come along while we chatted.
For fans, Bouchercon is a dream, a feast. But for authors who will admit it off the record, the conference is pretty much the same thing over and over. I’ve heard some authors tell the identical anecdotes on more than one panel. It’s great if you haven’t heard it all before, but not so great if you’re a veteran.
Authors supposedly get terrific exposure at BCon. I don’t believe that’s true. The famous writers get exposure. The rest of us get exhausted and wonder why we bothered. I once chaired a standing room only panel with over 450 people there, and the tape was the best seller of the conference. Did it budge my books sales? Barely.
I had spent $750 for a full page program that BCon, plus another $1000 on the hotel and air fare. For that money, I could have had a lovely weekend vacation somewhere else, stress-free.
That doesn’t mean people shouldn’t go. But think about your goals, the reality of attaining them, what your budget is, and then consider smaller conferences like Magna cum Murder where you might do better and have more fun.
Filed under: Uncategorized