Huh? Well, that was easy. Arm in arm with the anonymity of a keyboard and editing options, saying hello to a bunch of strangers is simpler than blinking. Walking through the doors of McCormick Place in Chicago and seeing the thousands of people milling around ranging from readers, bloggers, authors, librarians, advertisers, publishers, and anything else you could possibly think of that’s related to the publishing world, PLUS the expectation to talk to them and make future contacts?
Simple eye contact was a no-go. It granted permission for people to talk to you, to ask questions, to hand you something you might not want, and to seek something from you that you might not have to give.
Smiling was an invitation I couldn’t commit to so chances were my resting bitch face was securely in place.
Out of my comfort zone is, well, uncomfortable. Obviously. But I did push myself to make conversation when I had something to say and handed out a Fabulous Fictionistas bag with all the ladies info inside to at least 5 people. Okay, maybe 4. But they were a great marketing tool for someone comfortable reaching into the cavern of possible rejection.
Pointing out which Fabulous Fictionistas were the outgoing type was a cinch. They were the ones running around making contacts and finding old ones to reinforce plans. I’d like to think one day I’ll have the fortitude to do so as well, but this year – my first book conference and year as a published author – was not my year.
I did find ways to learn, even if observational rather than active.
I learned Disney had great breakfast foods and wearable swag.
I learned most companies had stacks of books to give to people and would rather have you take it than cart it back home. So I collected a crap ton of free ARCs (advanced reader copies).
And had a wonderfully painful time of lugging them around and then fitting them in my suitcase and carry-on while remaining under flight weight requirements.
One thing the venue could have used was a reading nook to get cozy with them while you rested your sore bodies, but the most you got was the cafeteria.
So while it seems the event may have been a waste of time since the whole purpose is to network, it wasn’t. Learning is different for all and, in this case, I like to think of my experience as laying the foundation for future years and experiences of whats expected of me. I went in blind and emerged aware of my current limitations and of those peaks I’d like to reach.
Worth every penny.
Also, I got to meet ALL of The Fabulous Fictionistas. They are as amazing as they promised and I had an hilarious time getting to know them in person and learning a plethora of knowledge to use for my future as an author while we all work as a team on the path to rule the world.
BEA17 is in New York and I can’t wait to meet up again. Maybe 2017 will be the year I talk to more than 5 people.
As an introvert these things are difficult. Have any fellow introverts out there found ways to use this as an advantage? Or to bypass the shyness and do more than chat about the overpriced water? (Because I failed in that mission as well).
If so, let me know. 😀