Everyone in the mystery community is heading off to Boucheron, which begins tomorrow in Chicago. Well, almost everyone. I’m staying home. Author Bill Crider, a veteran of 20 Bouchercons, has seen the convention change, and in some ways not for the better.
As the attendance has increased, the focus has
changed. The convention used to be all about the fans. Now it seems to be all
about the writers, with people going just to get a glimpse of their current
favorites, and a lot of the writers seem to be there just to hawk their latest
book. A line I’ve heard more than once: "I don’t have a book out this fall, so I
won’t be going.") I’m not sure this is change for the better.
I do have books out this fall, but I’m still not going. I just couldn’t see schlepping to Chicago on Labor Day weekend. And it was inconvenient for me. My wife and daughter just got back from three weeks away Friday. And today was my daughter’s first day back-to-school.
If it wasn’t for the bad timing, I’d be there.
I go to Bouchercon as a mystery fan first and a mystery author second. I love buying books. I love meeting the authors I admire. I love meeting people who’ve read my books and have enjoyed them. I love discovering new authors and new books to read. I love getting all those free books in my book bag. But most of all, I love the comraderie of fellow writers, talking shop and learning from shared experiences.
From a business stand-point, Bouchercon is a great opportunity to network and meet up with your agent and editors. You can also learn stuff from the panels but, to be honest, I only attend a small fraction of them because I’ve heard most of the authors, and their stories, a thousand times before.
But the one thing I don’t go to Bouchercon to do is sell books.
Many authors who are ordinarily calm, easy-going people become obnoxious hucksters at Boucheron, relentlessly pushing their books to any warm body that goes by and littering the place with fliers and bookmarks and t-shirts and whistles and other promotional crap. I think it’s actually counter-productive, that you will sell more books by not trying to sell books and just being yourself.
It’s not Bouchercon that I’ll miss this year, it’s the authors and readers I won’t get a chance to see. And the books I won’t buy.
Maybe next year.