Monday, September 15, 2014

Convention Guest...Uh...Don'ts.

I admit this post was triggered by treatment I saw of a guest at a recent convention - which got me thinking about the things people do that, when I'm a guest, I don't or wouldn't appreciate happening to me.

When a creator goes to a convention as a guest - we're working. The benefit we get is exposure and marketing (and a lot of behind-the-scenes networking that regular attendees may or may not witness). Because of this, we're obliged to be professional - even when we want to strangle somebody. Here are a few tips on not being that person.

1. We're not convention staff (usually, there's sometimes an overlap) or volunteers. In other words, we're not there to help you find your panel room, registration, or the nearest rest room. If it's our first time at that con, we might not know either. Oh, and we aren't the hotel concierge, either. This doesn't mean we won't necessarily answer those questions, but you're much better off finding somebody with a volunteer shirt or badge - there's usually plenty.

2. If we're in a hurry we're...in a hurry. Maybe we're trying to get from one panel to another that's the far end of the hotel. Or we have an hour tops to get food (not uncommon at lit cons, even for dinner). Or, bluntly, we just need to use the restroom. If a guest doesn't stop to talk to you, we probably aren't being rude - we just have to be somewhere else stat.

3. If a guest, especially a media guest or somebody in comics or film/TV refuses to answer a question, don't keep asking it. Even in different wording. Even with slightly different details. Even if you weren't the person who asked the initial question. (This is the behavior that annoyed me at a recent con). We don't refuse to answer questions to be rude or difficult. We may not want to release spoilers, or announce something prematurely. Or, maybe, we're not allowed to answer that question - pretty much everyone who works on somebody else's IP is under some sort of non-disclosure agreement, and it's really, really annoying to be pressured about it.

4. If we're in deep conversation with somebody else - please just show common courtesy and don't interrupt.

Okay. For something more positive - if there's a guest at a con you really want to talk to, what's the best way to go about it?

At comics conventions most of the guests have signing tables that are open much of the day. Go early in the morning or towards the end of the con, and choose a moment when there isn't much of a line, and most people are willing to talk. Same at lit cons - if somebody's got a signing and there's nobody waiting.

Or, look at the person's schedule and find a panel they're on or a reading where they don't have anything scheduled afterwards. Attend the panel then approach them afterwards. I'm almost always willing to talk in that situation, although I might ask you to walk with me to a different room.

Hanging out at the hotel bar can also be a good opportunity to catch guests (although be warned, some of us...uh...indulge quite extensively - and, again, don't interrupt conversations).

Larger names at lit cons often have a kaffeeklatsche, although you have to sign up for these so there's no guarantee (I've also seen kaffeeklatsch seats being raffled). These are generally limited to 10 or 12 people, but if you really want to talk to somebody they're the best opportunity.

Finally, if the person you're looking for has a launch party - that can be the very best chance to corner somebody, as long as you're not greedy about our time.