Breadcrumbs from the Void #42 Basics for Surviving a Professional Event | Alex Schumacher | Weekly Columns

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Fall is approaching, which is my favorite time of year. I refuse to allow the current bumbling administration or my steel-jaw trap of a day job to shit on the marginally elevated mood which will soon be upon me. A frigid nip will be infused in the air, the best holiday ever invented (Halloween) is just around the corner, and con season is in full swing! Conventions and conferences can be phenomenal opportunities to network and possibly meet some influential individuals who may (or most likely may not) give more than a passing glance to your Star Trek fan fiction or experimental poetry memoir. Said gatherings can also be intimidating and harrowing affairs, but you can count on Bread Crumbs from the Void to delve into the moist crevices on your behalf.

I have covered the finer points of networking in a previous installment, so if you wish to edify yourself in the secret art of the schmooze visit:

This time around I’m offering a few easy and greasy tips for the pseudo-agoraphobic, first-time con-goer. The information presented is intended to apply to both comic conventions and writer’s conferences. I’m simply going to assume that, like myself, you abhor crowds. I surmise that congregations of more than a few individuals — specifically those with whom you are not acquainted — elicits profuse perspiration and a two-by-four to lodge itself in your esophagus. The mere idea of being surrounded by throngs of germ-infested, self-obsessed attendees all vying for the attention of a diminutive group of editors and/or publishers sends a shiver up your taint.

If this all registers as far too relatable, I am absolutely addressing you. In the event you are an exception to the rule as a well-adjusted creator, I would still invite you to gather around the digital campfire as I share my suggestions for navigating a convention or conference.

  1. Plan your days ahead of time. Yes, that is intended to mean your entire fucking day. Adjustments or last minute modifications can always be applied to your schedule, but you will want to arrive equipped with at least an initial outline. Go over the event website, see if there are any panels or talks you’d like to attend, authors you’d like to try and catch at a booth or signing, etc. For me, having a plan helps to alleviate quite a bit of the anxiety I experience when facing large events such as cons.
  2. Know the layout. In general, conventions and conferences will release the floor plan for the show well in advance. Familiarize yourself with which publisher/agency is stationed where and jot down some notes if need be. Locating the exits and restrooms are of tantamount to the whereabouts of those you are intending to stalk. Especially for those of you suffering from the IBS. You know who you are. Anyway, I find knowing the lay of the land is a good way to spend as little time as possible getting knocked around on the show floor.
  3. Bring snacks. Trust me, bring some god-damn snacks. If Teddy Grahams ™ tickle your pickle, bring them! If your poison is Goldfish Crackers ™, make sure those bastards are riding shotgun! Concessions offered within the convention or conference, if available, tend to be ridiculously overpriced. Granola bars, trail mix, nicotine chews, etc. are good ways to stave off hunger and save a shit ton of money. Typically during a con I will graze on said sustenance throughout the day and preserve my mammoth appetite to splurge on a good size dinner. Oh, bring a refillable water bottle too!
  4. Comfortable shoes and clothing are integral. This may appear to be a common sense item, however it is a component which is incredibly easy to miss in the vortex of planning associated with traveling to and attending conventions and conferences. You may be inclined to line your luggage with ensembles fabricated to impress or lend an air of credibility when presenting yourself. Bear in mind you will be wearing the same thing for long stretches during your days attending the show. With the contingent of cosplayers wielding large props or multitudes of inattentive attendees you will want articles which are conducive to maneuverability (if not escape).
  5. Schedule meetings months in advance, if applicable and/or possible. You will want to set up those rendezvous with any publishers or editors in attendance with whom you plan to convene, pitch new ideas to, etc. in advance. Their days fill up incredibly quickly and that usually happens well before the event. Given that neither you nor I are a “name” they give two slushy fucks about, there is no chance in hades such movers and shakers are going to go out of their way to slot you in for chat about your 500,000 word homage to asparagus farming.

Again, the recommendations listed above are that of the most basic variety concerning the traversing of trade shows for artists and writers. There is an encyclopedic wealth of information to be accessed by attending such assemblies. To find and immerse yourself in one such convergence in your area merely requires an infinitesimal amount of research and the willingness to remove your doughnut weighted ass form the recliner. Good luck with the fucking circus.

As always, if you would like to hear me elaborate a bit more on my own process, you can find links to a couple of interviews conducted recently with me on my website at: Drop me a line from the contact page if you have any other questions, complaints, insults, or declarations of lust.

Bread Crumbs from the Void will return in two weeks with another thrilling edition of hard-nosed reality for you big-talkers and wannabes. Until next time, keep scribbling you freaks.

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