I came home from this year's RT Booklovers Convention (link to their page on Flickr) this past Monday, and I just want to say a big THANK YOU! to everybody I saw there, particularly those who stopped at my table during the E-Book, Indie Published, and Graphic Novel Expo (again, link to their Flickr page). That has been a highlight of the conference for me because it gives me a chance to say "hi!" to people, particularly my fellow authors (watch out for Nikki Duncan. She throws Snickers Minis at people she knows. I know. Sounds horrible, don't it?) I also had the chance to hang out with people I only see online the rest of the year and talk shop with them (hi, Grace! Hi, Lori! Hi, Vanessa! Hi, Christine!).
There are times where I forget most of this "author" jazz and lose the focus of why I go to RT Booklovers. It's the social aspect that I need to get my face and name out there. I have to remember I'm doing this not only to attend the seminars and pick up a few pointers and learn the business end, but to have people know me. Lila Dubois, who sat next to me at my first RT Booklovers in 2011, stopped to say hello during the Expo. Many of the cover models who attend remember me, as well, particularly Scott Nova, who was my escort during the masquerade at the 2011 and 2012 Faerie Balls.
I'm also learning that I have to reach out to people if I want that connection. It's a difficult process for me, but I have to overcome that discomfort if I truly want to make that First Impression. During the Fan-tastic Day party, I had an opportunity to do that. I'd seen fellow M/M author Damon Suede last year in Chicago but really didn't have a chance to say anything. This year, he was on a panel I'd attended but didn't have the chance to talk to him after that since everybody was scrambling to get to the next (even a 15-minute block of time between panels can evaporate quickly when you have to stop and chat with somebody!) At the Fan-tastic Day party, he was doing emcee duty and calling out raffle ticket numbers for the door prizes. I'd had a bunch of my promo material with me since I was A Scheduled Author, and I got the sudden idea that it would not only be a great idea to connect with the rest of the attendees, but to say "hi" to A Big Name.
I went to the front of the ballroom where the event was, and kindly waited off to the side for a chance to talk to him. Well. That was easier said than done. Many of the ticket numbers went unclaimed so he had to pull another one and announce that. It just kept going that way, and I was just waiting my turn. As I waited, I had the usual internal monologue going when I want to speak to somebody: Oh, please, shut up already so I can talk to you I just want to say something really quick it won't take that long will you just shut the hell up already oh my God I can't talk to him I'm going to say something rilly stoopid and he'll think I'm an idiot it'll just be easier if I die right here where I'm standing please shut up already! I finally got a chance to talk to him when somebody was able to claim one of the door prizes, and I handed him sample chapter booklets for But I Never Said I Didn't Love You and Kitchen Witch. I told him I have some of his work, and I wanted him to sample some of mine. He seemed genuinely pleased and I got a nice hug out of it, as well.
(Which he does very well. And he's a cute little shit, which helps.)
Some people have asked me, and I've asked this myself, if I'm so overcome with this social awkwardness, why the hell am I an author? Reaching out and connecting with people is a big part of it, and it scares me to death I have to do this. Many times, though, when I move beyond the initial "oh, what do you write? Anything recent?" type of conversation, I'm finding some very pleasant, fun conversations with others. I've also had the chance to discuss some of these fears while at the conference this year, and for many it's a universal feeling. There's that fear of rejection, which is a common aspect of the business and I have to learn to accept as a norm.
It's hard to separate the personal from the business, however. It's also difficult for me to take peoples' positive feedback for what it is: positive feedback. I've had the rug pulled out from beneath me so many times, I find it hard to trust a person might actually have no ulterior motive when they tell me they like my book, other than telling me they liked my book.
I also find it difficult to discuss this without sounding like I'm only looking for pity or validation.
No. Seriously. I did have fun at RT Booklovers this year, and I'm glad I went and I'm planning on going next year. It wasn't all trauma fits over my self worth as a human being or doubts over my writing. I enjoyed myself immensely. I guess I learned a bit more about the business than I'd expected.