Tips for the Traveling Author

Your book is written, edited, published, and all of your relatives and friends have been informed. Right now you estimate everybody within your small universe is thumbing through the pages right this minute, admiring the cover art and complimenting your austere portrait on the back of the jacket. You’re working to get reviews in the local papers and industry magazines, and maybe you’ve contacted a few local bookstores for signings. You’re on the right track, but eventually you will need to consider putting in some travel time to promote and/or learn how to promote your work.

Depending upon your chosen genre, you may benefit from a number of annual writers and readers conventions held all over the country – some with static locales and others held in different cities each year. Mystery authors, for example, would do good to connect with readers and booksellers at Malice Domestic in DC and Bouchercon, the location of which varies. Romance authors should definitely attended the Romantic Times convention and select smaller conferences held by chapters of Romance Writers of America. Science fiction and fantasy writers may find new fans at the multitude of themed cons held around the United States.

Once you have decided to attend a convention, however, it is important to be prepared for whatever role you plan to play there. Whether you are attending as a featured author or panelist, a vendor of your own books, or are just going to soak up the atmosphere and take notes, applying some helpful travel tips can make your trip much more enjoyable. Here are just a few ways to reduce headaches and lighten your load as a traveling author.

Whenever possible, send material in advance

This is especially helpful if you plan to sign books at an event. If your publisher is unable to send books in your stead, or if the venue is unable to get them from their distributor (most events are done in conjunction with a bookstore in the area, so if they can’t get your book through their channels you will have to bring your own), you may be stuck with extra luggage. You can relieve the burden by arranging a package to be sent to your hotel or to the venue. Make sure all labels are clearly marked, and confirm with the convention with regards to sending materials so they don’t get lost or returned.

Cut costs with a roommate

While host hotels offer discount rates to convention goers, it may still prove costly for some to travel. Larger conventions may arrange for roommate options, so it may be to your advantage to go that route and save some money on lodging.

Always keep some material handy

The moment you leave the house, you have opportunity to promote yourself. Even if you pack everything, make sure to at least carry a pack of business cards with you to hand out at mixers and panels. If you’re on the plane and strike up a conversation with a passenger, why not hand out a few? You never know that the person sitting next to you is an avid reader.

Choose manageable promotional materials

If you check in luggage, you do run the risk of having your promo stuff bounced around a plane. Try to avoid bringing promotional items that may damage easily. Nothing glass or filled with liquid that might leak. If you have posters, make sure they are laminated or rolled tightly in a cardboard tube to avoid wrinkling. Candy may melt or spoil, so you might want to scout your venue for a nearby store so you can buy some fresh the day of the event.

Above all, talk to other authors who regularly attending conferences and learn from their experiences. Getting there is half the fun, and the last thing that should concern you at a conference is your luggage. Take care of the travel in advance, and focus on exposing your book for a successful conference trip.