Convention Do's and Don'ts
- Plan ahead. Planning is your friend when it comes to the large cons. It's impossible to see everything, so decide what your priorities are- whether it's a signing, a cosplay contest, certain panels, or whatever. Maybe even make a mini- schedule for yourself so you can stay focused. A big convention can be overwhelming, and plans can quickly go out the window in the rush so a little planning goes a long way. This includes, if possible, knowing where your various events are located, and the best way to get there.
- Dress comfortably. It's often warm outside but the convention hall will be air- conditioned, so keep that in mind. If you get cold in the AC bring a light sweater. Also wear comfortable shoes. This might be the most important tip of all. You will be doing a lot of walking, and standing, and your feet will probably be killing you by the end of the day- no way around it. Comfortable footwear makes all the difference.
- Have a back-up plan. Things change, sometimes events get moved or signings end early or whatever- be flexible. And don't over- schedule! Keep some time free to wander the exhibit hall and to just soak up the atmosphere. Take pictures, talk to celebrities or other fans, be a part of the show. You'll almost certainly be rewarded if you just wander a bit or explore some of the different events.
- Be respectful. Everyone gets excited and it's easy to get carried away. If you want a picture with a cosplayer or exhibitor model, ask. It's just common courtesy to do that. Don't assume just because someone is in costume that they are available for photography. They probably won't mind but remember that they are people too- treat 'em with respect.
- Have fun! That's the point, right? But whenever you're in a large group of people there will be frustrations, you might run into hotel issues or miss an event or whatever- keep cool and remember not everything will go according to plan. If it does, bonus! But if not, roll with it and remember- you're at a convention. Have a blast!
- Get too discouraged if you miss an event or don't make a certain panel. There are a zillion and one things to do at a big con and the sheer variety of things can be overwhelming. As noted above, have a plan but stay flexible too.
- Go without eating! Believe it or not, first time attendees can get so excited they go-go-go and may skip meals. Bring a sandwich or breakfast bar in your backpack, or take a pit stop at one of the food kiosks if available, but you need to keep your energy up. A good breakfast is key and will set the tone for your whole day. And stay hydrated. Bring a bottle of water or get one at the con, you'll be doing a lot of walking and water or a sports drink will keep you going.
- Forget to sleep. Especially for first time attendees, you can be having so much fun that a good night's sleep falls by the wayside. Trust me, you'll have a better convention experience if you get some z's.
- Forget where you're at! As awesome as the con is, sometimes you need a break. Most cities that are hosting a convention will have lots to do. Whether it's great food or some nightlife, don't miss out on whatever the host city has on offer. It can be nice too to get a break from the convention, believe it or not.
- Assume all cons are equal. Comic- Con is huge but there are lots of smaller cons, both those specializing in comics and those that are more book related, or gaming related. I've been going to GenCon for years, even as it relocated cities, and every con has its own thing. If you like a smaller, more intimate con those can be a great way to meet people, including guests of honor. The bigger cons will be much more intense but you're surrounded by thousands of fellow fans, and the offerings can be limitless! The main thing- have fun.
I'd love to go to a fan convention! Sadly, the only one we have here in New Zealand is Armageddon, and usually I don't know of any of the guests. I guess because we're so far away not so many big names want to attend. It sucks! But going to a con is on my bucket list.ReplyDelete
Conventions are awesomesauce! I hope you get a chance to go to one. I think Australia has a few nice cons, maybe something will develop in NZ as well! NZ is supposed to be quite beautiful (plus Middle- Earth) :) so I would think celebrities would want to go there!Delete
I don't go to conventions-geography, cost and time all conspire against me!ReplyDelete
They can be pricy!Delete
One of my bucket list items is San Diego Comic Con. NYCC is right in my backyard, and would be easy for me to attend, but it does not hold the allure of SDCC. Ha! I totally fell into the disappointment thing. I found it so frustrating that panels seemed to be schedules in such a way to stymie me, but then I realized that it wasn't personal. =)ReplyDelete
Sam @ WLABB
SDCC is the big kahuna and I'm sure NYCC is awesome too, but I can see why you feel that way. SAn Diego is kinda the apex. :) And I know my first con or two I failed at a few of these, so this was based on first hand experience!Delete
Great tips! I actually want to go to NYCC at least once since it's practically in our backyard - my husband went a couple years ago and I was so jealous - but it's so hard to get tickets!ReplyDelete
Thanks, I think NYCC would be awesome. I've heard that it's hard to get tickets (and for SD too).Delete
Great post Greg! Your tips are right on. Especially the one about eating LOL I'll be one that would be too excited to eat or drink and then get exhausted an dehydrated. I wish I could go to conventions! Maybe when my spawns are older :)ReplyDelete
Thanks! I'll admit that my first con I was so excited to get there I didn't really sleep or eat much.Delete
I've only been to book cons but the advice still holds for both.ReplyDelete
My big ones are comfortable shoes, be flexible and carry water/snacks.
For What It's Worth
Those would probably be the top three. :) And I think you're right.Delete
I've been to book cons, but I've also been to a Comic Con in my city for a couple years and I love it. It's smaller, but most of this advice is still important. Thanks for sharing.ReplyDelete
Some of the smaller cons (especially comic cons) are much more centered on comics rather than all the celebrities and panels, and depending on your interests that can be good or bad. I've gone to GenCon many times and so a lot of my experiences are formed from that, but I think it mostly applies except maybe the smallest cons.Delete
I've only been to a small book con but it was fun. Your advice would still apply especially about the panels. Even at the smaller ones, if you miss or don't get in, there is something else to do. Brilly post.ReplyDelete
Thank you! It is geared more towards bigger cons but smaller ones can be great too, and you're rightflexibility is key no matter the size.Delete
I've also only been to book cons but the advice is great!ReplyDelete
Jen @ YA Romantics
Thanks Jen. I've been to a lot of game conventions but I'd like to do more book cons!Delete
These are so accurate! I have only been to bookish stuff, but these suggestions totally apply. I have done ALL the don'ts too hahah. Oops? I straight up cried when I overslept and missed a signing, I absolutely forgot to eat, and what even is sleep? I did, however, forgo shoes entirely at one point during my first BEA. Just for like, 10 minutes, but still.ReplyDelete
I'd love to go to a non-bookish one, but Idk. I *could* to NYCC, but... Like Sam said in her comment, I'd either want to do SDCC or nothing. Also, I need to talk to that girl from New Zealand up there because Richard and Sachin were AT ARMAGEDDON. And I am jealous. She needs to watch the show, become a fan, and then go to the con. So I can live vicariously.
Erm. Anyway. One of the things I started doing was buying a case of water and leaving them in the hotel fridge- that way I can carry like, 4 cold bottles with me a day, and not have to pay a ton of money at the event. Love this post!
Thanks! I've only been to smaller comic cons (never been to SDCC) and Gen Con a bunch of times, but GenCon has gotten so big that a lot of these are from personal experience! I've missed sleep, and events, and eaten terribly... lol.Delete
SDCC would be awesome. :) Ha ha I agree, Armageddon sounds awesome I must find out more! Wouldn't a 100 con be the bomb?
That's a great idea too- everything at cons is so expensive!
Thank you for the awesome tips, Greg! We really hope we can go to a con one day and apply these tips *sigh* Great post :)ReplyDelete
Thank you, and you're welcome! Hope you get to go to a con soon. :)Delete
Thanks for all of the tips. I have yet to attend a convention of any kind, but would really love to some day.ReplyDelete
I hope you get a chance to. :)Delete
I have not gone to conventions or even book signing! I know... I am missing half of my bookish life. Anyway, thanks for these. ;)ReplyDelete
Hope you get a chance to go to one!Delete
Great tips! I've only been to one con, but I had the good fortune to get tickets for SDCC when my friend and I suddenly decided to do it. We had no idea how hard it could be to get tickets. We got a crash course in con survival from veterans on the bus and in our hotel and I'm so glad they were so nice and informative, because we had no idea what to expect or how fast panels could fill up or how long the waits would be. I never would have got in to the Eoin Colfer panel that year otherwise. ^_^ We didn't know either how con crazy downtown San Diego went until we arrived, but we had a blast exploring all the extra things those two days we didn't have tickets.ReplyDelete
Ooh you got to go to SDCC- nice! If you're going to go to one, that's the one! And you got some tips too- that always helps. I know things can go fast at big cons but at SDCC I imagine it's crazy!Delete
And I do like exploring the town hosting the con, sometimes you find some great places that way!
My daughter would love to go to Comic-con someday. I thought about taking her to one for her birthday, but it's so overwhelming to try to figure it out!ReplyDelete
My son and his friends plan for ages ehen they are going to a con. I wish he was that organized in everyday life. Ha!ReplyDelete
I'd love to go to one of these some time... :)ReplyDelete