The talented and winsome Sarah Weinman posed a question recently, Why go to Bouchercon? And because my poor battered brain is finding it so hard to squeeze out the words, I thought I’d steal my response to her and post it here, too. But do go look at what others have to say on the topic.
So why go to BoucherCon?
I ask myself this every year, this being the fifth or sixth year in a row that I’e2’80’99ve attended. I started with the 2001 DC convention, which I signed up for because my daughter was doing an internship in DC and I could use the excuse to see her, and was doubly glad to go to because so many people cancelled after 9/11’e2’80’94one small way a West Coaster could express her solidarity with the besieged East.
There are a number of good reasons to go, although in the end, reasons are not why I’e2’80’99m there. I see my editor, always a good thing, and get a chance to talk about what’e2’80’99s next and why. As a business move, going to a convention of 1500 or 2000 readers of crime fiction is like doing a whole bunch of events at once. I am seen by a lot of people, both established readers and people new to the LRK industry’e2’80’94and it always astonishes me how many people tell me they’e2’80’99ve never heard of me. It always seems to me that surely, Laurie R King must have been shoved down the throat of every reader of fiction in the entire country, and that if people don’e2’80’99t read my books, it’e2’80’99s because they don’e2’80’99t like them, not that they’ve never come across them. But no, I invariably hear two or three times during the convention ‘e2’80’9cWhy have I never heard of you before? I’e2’80’99m going to buy your book now.’e2’80’9d
But selling alone isn’e2’80’99t why I go. I go to BoucherCon not because publishing is an industry, but because it is a community. A writer forgets that it isn’e2’80’99t all about her and her laptop, that there are other people who do this job, people the writer would never see if not for the effort of flying to bloody Chicago over goddamn Labor Day Weekend.
I live in a town, or anyway near a town, with a handful of writers, and some of us meet for lunch from time to time. I live in an area with a richness of writers, and I see them even more rarely. But friends who are writers? They live in places like Anchorage and Manchester, and how often do I get there, or do they get to Santa Cruz County?
But at BoucherCon I can have a drink with Lee Child and SJ Rozan, I can have breakfast with Dana Stabenow, I can spot a bunch of writers whom I don’e2’80’99t know but whose work I do having lunch, stop to introduce myself, and find myself invited to their spare chair.
I admit, it was tougher when I was one of the Great Unknown, which was probably one of the reasons why I didn’e2’80’99t go to many conferences early on. However, even now I have to consciously tell myself that I am among friends, that maybe seven out of ten participants will see my name badge and not scorn me openly.
And a lack of open scorn is surely reason enough to trek across the country on Labor Day weekend.