RT Con Advice #1: Me

Well, the Romantic Times BOOKlovers Convention in Orlando, FL is just around the corner. No seriously. It is literally around the corner. You’re going to blink and it’ll be April. Watch.

There are plenty of people going to RT Con for the very first time. I’ve been there and done that and I’m going to post advice about my experience so future RT virgins know a little about what they are getting into. Along with me, I’ve invited other RT Con vets to post advice to my blog so everything is in one place as an easy reference.

I’ll be posting these jewels of wisdom every Monday until the week of RT Con (mostly because I’ll be on the road that Monday and the cops frown on people who use their computers and drive at the same time, never mind that you’ve seen them doing it too… tangent topic ;P)

This is a never ending list and it may be a little daunting, but nothing said is without merit or purpose.

So, on with the show…

RT Con Advice #1: Things You Should Pack

Clothes – Well there’s a duh moment, huh? Of course you want clothes. You want to make a splash at RT Con but running around naked isn’t the way to go. However, sometimes stating the obvious comes in handy for some people. You get so hung up with everything else, you forget the essentials.

So, what kinds of clothes? Casual, business casual, and formal. But most of all COMFORTABLE. I can’t stress that enough. During the day, you will be running around and lugging books and meeting people and so on. You want and NEED to be comfortable. Don’t bring clothes you aren’t used to wearing (the same goes for shoes). I was jeans-and-logo-shirt gal during the days and dress-up-for-the-party at night. Just make sure your clothes are presentable — no holes, stains, dirt, etc.

And like my mommy always told me, bring extra underwear. You never know what’ll happen and you don’t want to assume there will be a store nearby that won’t completely gouge you on the cost of something as mundane as undies.

Cell Phone – NOT OPTIONAL!!! RT Con is big and jam packed with people. Two steps into the hotel, you’ve lost your party, they were just there, and the building didn’t even look that big from the outside. It will happen. You’ll turn your back for a second and when you look back your friends are missing. Cell phones are a complete must just to keep track of everyone.

If you don’t own a cell phone, for whatever reason. Drop some money and get a pay-as-you-go phone. There is no contract. You pay for minutes and the phones are usually pretty inexpensive. The expense is a tax write-off and pretty much guarateed peace of mind. You won’t spend the entire convention looking for your party. Just make sure you have everyone’s numbers stored in your phone (or written somewhere) for easy reference.

Laptop – Speaking of gadgets. Don’t forget your laptop. Inspiration might hit and you’ll want to find a quiet corner and write. It’s not uncommon to see people tucked away typing at RT Con. Don’t feel guilty. We’re all writers or part of the writing machine and totally understand the need to type.

A laptop with internet connection also comes in handy for showing off video trailers that you’ve uploaded to various sites, your website, your book pages, and whatever else might impress a potential reader or publisher/agent.

Business Cards – If you don’t have any, get some. Business cards are easier to carry than bookmarks (and most other promo) and they don’t get bent up as easily.

Promo – Why didn’t I lump business cards with promo? I see them as two separate entities. Business cards are you. Promo is your books. Bookmarks, cover flats, postcards, flyers, et al. Make sure you have a good supply of it. You never know when a visiting bookseller might want to take it all home with them (it could happen) so they can give it out to their customers.

On the flip side, don’t bankrupt yourself buying thousands of everything. If you run out, there is always your… you guessed it… business cards. They are your fall back and your tell all. Your business cards should have your website URL and your website should have all the info about your releases.

Your Print Books – You’re in print and that’s great. You’ll more than likely be signing at the giant book fair on Saturday and RT is having the books shipped in for you. That doesn’t mean you don’t bring a few copies (2 or 3 of your most recent) of your own. Why? To give them away. Huh? Yes, to give them away. Book reviewers, book sellers, agents, and editors attend this event (along with many other industry peoples). I don’t know about you, but I’d rather put a copy of my book in an agent/editor’s hands than a bookmark.

Books – Not yours, other people’s. You’ve already bought them, so get them signed. That’s what the authors are there for. Don’t go overboard and try to haul your entire library to this event. You WILL be going home with books. Unless you give them all away as you get them, you will be getting lots and lots of free books (got those signed too).

Check out the list of attending authors and bring your all time fav books for your all time fav author to sign. Just be prepared to mail stuff home.

Camera – Hello! Famous people! Authors whose books you’ve read thousands of times! MODELS!!!! A camera will record it all and remind you that you didn’t dream the whole thing.

Snacks – I’m not talking about sandwich fixings or candy. I mean snack cakes, granola bars or fruit cups — something light weight, finger-friendly, low mess-making and filling to raise your blood sugar a little in between meals and give you a boost. You never realize how tired you are until you sit down and then it hits you all at once. And, you don’t want to be snapping at people because you’re hungry. Not to mention, it’s so hectic and there is so much going on that you forget to eat. Yes, you do. Time gets away from you and suddenly it’s night time and the last time you ate was breakfast.

Water – Or a sports drink. You need hydration even more so than usual because you’re probably going to be doing more talking in the next five days than you have in the entire year. Sodas will only dehydrate you more. Have a ready supply of bottled drinks. Carry one with you and stash the rest in your room.

On top of that, you want to avoid drinking from sources that have been sitting out and breathed on for long periods of time. People from literally around the world are converging on one spot and all their germs are coming with them. You don’t want to spend the convention sick.

Meds – Bring a bottle of your preferred cold medicine in case a bug finds you. The stress and crowds will weaken your defenses, so be prepared. It might be a good idea to start dosing yourself on Vitamin C and Echinacea (and other immune building vitamins) now, just to build yourself up.

Also, if you take medications for whatever reason, you’ll need them. You probably wouldn’t leave them behind just like you wouldn’t leave your clothes. What you wouldn’t think to bring is a copy of your prescription just in case something happens to your meds while at the hotel. Have a copy of your prescription or (if the your doctor doesn’t do that) then have your doctor’s phone number handy so you can get in touch if wacky happens.

For the ladies
Feminine Care – Tampons, pads, pantyliners. BRING THEM. I don’t care if you just finished the day before heading out to the convention. I already said stress does wacky things to the body. Well wacky goes crazy in the female body. Don’t tempt fate. Don’t depend on the local stores either. They will happily over charge for something you could have gotten for cheaper at home.