Do you want to go to a reader event or book convention? If you are a book slut like me you want to go to them all. And I want to help you do it the right way. I have some tips and suggestions to help you have a great Con experience.
This is what I learned this year at ApollyCon in Washington D.C, hopefully it will help you do ApollyCon 2020.First of all I have the benefit of a great Sugar Daddy. Ew–I don’t want to ever call my guy that ever again. My husband has the luxury of taking time off between work trips to do things with me. He works for an international company that requires he travel every six weeks, so he gets lots of frequent flyer and hotel rewards that most people don’t have.
So first tip: Go sign up right now for frequent flyer accounts and hotel rewards programs. If you are thinking a year ahead and taking full advantage of the extra rewards programs for travel and accommodations you can get deals and benefits further down the line.
Until BookCon 2018 ApollyCon wasn’t on my radar. Jennifer L. Armentrout mentioned it to in passing while I was in line to get her to sign my copy of Till Death. (She also told me where to get my The Darkest Star galley later the same day because she is a BAWS!) I got an email a few days after BookCon with the time the tickets for ApollyCon 2019 would be on sale.
Second helpful tip: Buy tickets on the open sale date to get first choice. The hotel room rate was offered with the ticket purchase. Hyatt Hotels are never going to offer you anything better than the rate you get with a convention ticket. Jump at the chance. And reserve for the longest stay you can dream of staying for because adding days to a reservation will be more expensive after the fact. You can always shorten your reservation. Do not prepay your room, take advantage of the fact that cancellations for most hotels can be made until 48 hours before your scheduled stay.
ApollyCon offered many ticket tiers for attendants. I got myself a Titan Pass which was a carte blanc pass to insider events and extra swag.
Third tip: If you have the extra room on your credit card I suggest you get yourself a pass and an extra so you can find someone to go with you. I purchased mine but didn’t realize my husband was willing to go with me and I had to dig up a ticket weeks before. Don’t do that. Buy tickets and be the person who has one to sell. Also if you get the premium ticket go all out and get the extras. I didn’t purchase the Brunch plus Q&A until I could find them for sale. All the later tickets had to be registered in the name of the ticket holder. I managed to screw that up and end up with two of the same damn tickets registered in my name. It was a hassle for the people I bought tickets from to fix my oversight.
It never hurts to get with the band instead of getting on the bandwagon.
Fourth tip: Join the Facebook and Reddit groups for conventions. And do the thing I failed at big time which was check those groups regularly. So many offers became available in the Facebook group that I overlooked. Nothing sucks harder than seeing someone with some and finding out it was a preorder you missed. Check the social media and websites of authors you are interested in prior to the event. Paying more attention to exclusive author extras would have set me up with everything from book bundles to totes. Many people pre-ordered library card book beau book sleeves that came with a gold marker for authors to sign. Also ordering more virtual signing books would have saved me the disappointment of wanting first in series copies of books that sold out quickly.
–Oh and apparently there was a bum rush Friday morning at the ApollyCon Barnes and Noble Bookstore. If I had paid attention I might have been able to score a copy of JLA’s Storm and Fury. Pay attention.
–Post oh! Don’t buy at the ApollyCon Barnes and Noble because the author will have many titles available at their table for less money.
Titan Passes allow you a day on the convention floor before it opens. Pre-tickets are offered for authors who might have a lot of traffic so there are no bum rushes.
Fifth Tip: Do the damn pre-tickets. Ask for all the authors because you are going to meet people who will trade with you for lower ticket numbers. DO NOT ASSUME A TICKET IS A GUARANTEE. There are going to be authors who are chatty tarts and their lines will get backed up. Pick your battles. Don’t wait in a line for someone you are kinda into. The unfortunate lesson I learned was authors ran out of first in series copies early. I spent almost 30 minutes in Helena Hunting’s line without moving forward an inch. I gave up and because I had spent too long in the Independence Hall some of the authors in the Ballroom had stepped out early. I ran down to Ballroom with only 40 minutes left on the day.
Lesson to you: Prioritize.
Having had Friday to hit up the signing tables of authors as if demons were on my heels allowed me to have a more relaxed Saturday. I was able to do interviews with authors and go to vendor booths while there were lulls in General Admission crowds.
Sixth tip: Take advantage of Con discounts on book subscription boxes and event exclusive items. Many book sub services on site allowed you to browse contents of past book crates. The Bookworm Box booth was doing grab bags with autographed titles in them. They also had scratch off cards with deep discounts on your first subscription. The Bookworm Box profits go 100% to charity so you get a box of books and goodies for your monthly sub and the money goes to a good cause. The Bookish Box people were funny and helpful. They let me destroy their entire table while pulling apart one of their previous crates to see it’s goodies. I knocked crap over and dropped things on the floor. With proof of subscription to their service you got a free gift. Mine was a cute pair of socks.
I did not attend the themed party Saturday night because I caught con crud.
Need to Know: Bring hand sanitizer and use liberally especially if you have an compromised immune system. The Hyatt Cafe shop closes at midday so the chance for tea is limited. Don’t get cold medicine from the gift shop, there is a Harris Teeter less than a mile away. Refrigerators in the hotel are small but you can fit small bottles of juice and water in them. Don’t use the water bottles offered in your room because they are $3.00/per bottle. Be sure to use the air/heat in your room sparingly if you have a cold. It dries you out lickity split. Try getting more blankets from housekeeping and bury yourself. Also avoid the water coolers Hyatt has in its communal area because if you aren’t sick all of the people around you who are have been filling cups from it all day long. And the hand sanitizer stations are probably empty.
Jump all over the chance to do the extras. I would have kicked my ass if I didn’t.
Tip number seven: The Sunday Brunch is worth the money. Colleen Hoover had to bow out due to health reasons. JLA hosted the event with Christina Lauren; in my opinion, it didn’t diminish the event in any fashion. I was even able to find some food on the buffet table despite having a very restricted diet. If you do have something where you might need very specific food options contact the moderators of the social media groups so they can be aware and be able to offer you solutions. Try not to assume that buffets are bulletproof. Cross-contamination is a real threat and if you have serious food allergies I shouldn’t have to tell you to use caution. There were ApollyCon Brunch exclusive swag bags, items, and giveaways. If you can’t as close to the front as you would like I suggest that you sit near the speakers so you can clearly hear the Q&A.
With all events things can go sideways. Due to the change in the Q&A lineup refunds were being offered to those who purchased Brunch passes to see Colleen Hoover. It’s my opinion that Christina Lauren were humorous and charming and I still got to eat so I chalked it up to real life occurring while I was at a scheduled event; sometimes you roll with it.
And then more free swag… JLA had a table of leftover items she did not want to transport home. I grabbed more posters to offer my poor beleaguered blog readers and as a thank you to the people I bought tickets from that allowed me to bring a friend.
And about that friend… I brought my guy. He carried my bags of books, stood in lines for me, took photos and got me autographs. He also bought me cough medicine, tissues, and tea. Then my guy cheered me on when I was particularly anxious about things because social anxiety is real and crippling.
Best advice: Bring a friend. And challenge your limits!
Hope to see you next year. (See you, not meet you; I’m terrible at the socializing thing. =P)
- Sign up for Frequent Flyer and Hotel Rewards Programs.
- Buy your tickets early. Opening day for the top tier tickets.
- Reserve your hotel stay with your tickets but don’t prepay. Take advantage of the Con rate.
- Take advantage of the two ticket limit and buy two. Grab the special event tickets in pairs too.
- Join the Facebook groups for the Con and keep your eye out for special offers and information on pre-orders.
- Do the damn pre-ticket for author signings.
- Take advantage of the deep discounts on book subscription services available during the convention.
- Take extra care to avoid getting sick. Know where to purchase things if you do. Bring hand sanitizer and tissues. Don’t drink from the water stations.
- Go all in for the Sunday Brunch and Q&A.
- Take a friend and have fun!