Here’s the question that keeps coming up: Is going to conventions vital for F&SF writers?
And the answer is no, of course not. Don’t go to conventions unless you are genuinely deriving pleasure of some sort from them. If you’re going to go and just sit in a corner and be miserable, then don’t waste your money.
I do like cons. I’d probably go to at least a few even if I wasn’t just writing. I find them a great place to see old friends and make new ones, hear interesting discussions, and even do a little networking. To make the most of them, I may set up meetings with folks I want to see in order to make sure there’s time for it. If I’m on panels, I make sure I’m ready to talk about whatever the topic is. If I’m reading, I rehearse the piece well beforehand and make sure I know how long it takes to read.
But part of my prep is also making sure I look professional as well. The only time I’ll go off to get my nails done is before a con (or some other work outing) and I always make sure my hair is recently cut, that I’ve got clean and reasonably matching outfits, suitable footwear, and all the rest. But that’s as much for internal as external factors – I know if I’m feeling well-assembled, I’ll be more confident overall.
I’d be curious to hear what other folks do to prepare for conventions, or if you’ve got tips for hotel existence. I’ve learned to make sure I’ve got a change of clothes in my carry-on if I check a bag, that ballet flats make great light-weight footwear for cons, and to make sure I’ve got all my charging cords. How about you?