ROAD TO RT: Before

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Before

So you have your ticket and you’re ready to go!  If this is your first time, you may want to consider the following tips.

Accommodations

I’ve always recommended staying at the host hotel.  Here’s my reason why.  You may go to panels or events or signings and come out of there packed full of books and goodies.  If you are staying at the host hotel you can simply go up to your room, dump your stuff and come back down.  If you’re not, you either have to think about how to carry all that stuff around with you all day or make the trip back and forth to drop things off and lose time.  I know there’s a limit on how many people get a room at the host hotel, but this is just something to consider with any signing on the reason why it works to stay there.

Find a good roomie!

Obviously at this point you should have your accommodations figured out (hopefully).  But sharing rooms at book conferences is usually the way to go.  Unless you’re a secret billionaire and don’t care to spend your money, or really need your privacy, then more power to you!  Keep in mind that traveling with a friend may not be as easy as you think.  Many friendships of mine have been tested over the years by traveling with them.  Once you find your travel buddy, make sure you girls stick together!

Have a game plan

When it comes to RT, everything can be a bit overwhelming.  Going without at least a game plan is probably not the best way to get the most out of your experience.  It’s a big investment to attend a conference like this and you should know what your goal is.  What do you hope to get out of it?  And have an idea how you’ll be spending your time.  I’m not saying this needs to be set in stone because chances are you’ll change your mind about something or something new will pop up that you weren’t even expecting.  However, you should go with a little idea.

The RT website allows you to add panels and events to your agenda and then you can print that out or you can go ahead and download the RT Book Con 2017 App.  Take some time to look through what’s available and mark things on your schedule that sound interesting.  With the app, you’ll get notifications when something you marked is coming up.  If you’re not feeling something at the moment, then you can always choose to do something else.

Also, don’t be scared to sit on a panel that sounds interesting that is geared more towards authors.  Obviously their topics may not be of the most interest to you, but I found sitting on a Nalini Singh panel about world building to be fascinating at the first RT I went to.

Signings

Here’s where you need to go prepared.  Look at the list of signing authors and mark down which ones you want to meet.  Some of them will be at panels and publisher signings so you may consider cross checking those lists of authors as well.  If you can meet an author at one of those instead of the big Saturday signing, that’s a time saver for you.  But you should have this game plan ready and know where authors will be.

I would highly suggest prioritizing your list of authors.  Frankly, the signing is long but it’s not long enough to get to everyone you want to meet unless your list is extremely small.  There will be LOTS of authors.  Some of the authors will also have long lines so you have to consider that.  If you prioritize and go to the ones you HAVE to meet first, then if you run out of time you won’t be devastated.

If you can get your hands on the seating chart (not sure if it’s available yet online, but should be available at RT before the signing) then you can actually map out how you want to do it.  And if you’ve already figured out some panels or publisher signings to meet other favorites, then you may feel less stressed on Saturday to get everything done.

If there are specific books you want signed, bring them with you.  Yes there are books for sale there but what if they run out or don’t have the one you really wanted?  That’s happened to me before so as a rule I always bring the books I definitely want signed, unless you don’t really care which one you get.  It can also happen that by the time you get to an author’s table they’ve sold out of books completely, so have a back up plan.

I’ll be posting some budget friendly ideas on how to get things signed at a book signing tomorrow, so stay tuned for that!

Parties

To dress up or not to dress up.  Figure out if you’ll be playing along with the costumes.  Every year we (UTC girls) attend we usually do the costumes, and this will be the first year that we probably won’t.  It’s a lot of fun to do it though, especially when you’re going with a group of friends.  So check out the themes for the parties (and even some panels have themes you can dress up for) and see how you feel about it.  This is definitely not something you HAVE to do and there will be plenty of people not dressing up.  So don’t feel pressure.  But it is a lot of fun!  One thing to consider is the fact that bringing costumes is just more to put in your luggage so if you’re traveling that may be a concern.  And also the fact that it takes time to change into a costume.  If you plan on attending a panel in costume, you’ll most likely end up missing something in the panel before and after while you change.

Connect with Others

Why not start early?  There’s plenty of FB groups and places where you can connect with other people that will be attending.  You can plan to share rides to/from the airport, or even look for a roommate if you don’t have one yet and need one last minute.  Or simply plan for a get together with other readers and just have some drinks.  RT is always the most fun when you mingle with others and can share your love of books with them.  So make the most out of the experience by meeting new people!

Stay Alert!

A lot of authors you love may be doing special outings, especially if you are part of street teams or FB groups.  Keep an eye out for any invites and news about these popping up because these won’t be on any official calendars and most likely are all being coordinated and set up ahead of time.

Snacks and Food

While at RT be prepared to walk around and stand in lines.  You want to stay hydrated and not die of starvation.  If you can, plan for bringing some quick snacks or hitting the grocery store when you get there so you won’t break the bank.

Packing/Shipping

When it comes to clothes, obviously you gotta take it with you.  But if you’re flying, books can get heavy.  Depending on how many books you plan on bringing, you may want to consider shipping a box to the hotel ahead of time.  When you get to the hotel all you have to do is pick up your box.  Find out ahead of time if the hotel will charge you a fee for receiving the box and any special instructions they may give you.  The last RT I went to, I actually shipped a luggage.  That was less money than paying for bringing an additional luggage with me on the plane. 😉

Don’t Forget

Here are some things you may want to remember to pack:

Books (duh)
Clothes (LOL)
Comfortable shoes (lots of walking and standing, you don’t want to have blisters, or if you still want to rock your heels then bring plenty of bandaids!)
Costumes (if you’re doing it)
Big bag to walk around with (and stuff full of goodies) and/or cart to drag around the signing with you (you will get a freebie cart with your registration, but I found these to be a bit flimsy in the past myself and a good top-opening cart to roll around the signing is the only way to make it comfortable)
Camera
Portable battery charger (this is a must, your phone will get a work out and some hotels have such terrible reception it drains your battery quick)
eReader (you’ll need to read sometimes while in line to pass the time 😉

Stay tuned tomorrow for some budget friendly ideas on how to get the most out of a book signing, even if you don’t want to/can’t buy a ton of books.

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Elizabeth

I love these pointers! It’s like plotting out your day-to-day at Disney! 🙂

Timitra

Thank you sharing these helpful tips I’m making notes for when I finally attend one.