The old truism is there are 2 sides to every story–and this is no different for guests and conventions. In today's post I'm going to discuss the situation from the side of the guest–and what you can do to be the best possible guest for a convention (and why this should be very important to you).
As a creator what is the first thought you have when a con asks you to be a guest: How much money you can make on sales there? Will this raise my notoriety in general because of the visibility of being a guest? Or simply the pride of being thought of as worthy of being a guest?
Note that all of these above normal thoughts entirely revolve around you and your immediate needs. This is valid of course, but it's also simplistic. As a guest of a con you need to also think "deeply" about the situation. Why did the con ask you to be a guest? What does the con expect to get from the relationship? What can you get that's not an immediate benefit from this experience?
The first thing to note is generally cons ask people to be guests who they believe will draw more people to their event. Guests equal more money for an event, that's why they have them. So the con is investing in you (by providing travel, room, or table space) so that your "return" is more people for their event. So your "value" is how well you can cause this return to them to occur.
This isn't just in one case though. Word gets around the con scene. A guest that proves that they can bring in people is more valuable than someone who brings in less–it's just easy to understand why this is so. So your actions can have long reaching effects other than your immediate benefit at this one con.
So what am I shooting at with all of this?
2 things really and they are very simple and free:
1) Your value to a con is in your promotion and directing your fans or readers to support the event you will be attending. This obviously also benefits you, since if they go to the event they will probably buy from you–but it also builds up your reputation as a "draw". Posting a link to the event you will be attending on your site is effectively free–so is specifically saying to your fans "Hey, go to this event. I'll be there and it will be awesome". This level of support for an event marks you as understanding the business relationship that you've made with the event.
2) Be positive at the event. Your presence at an event makes you an extension of the event. Even if your sales aren't as good as you'd like, or something else isn't going right (that isn't the con's fault), try to stay positive and friendly in public. Again, your value is promoting and being a positive element of the overall event. I can tell you for a fact that there are many people out there essentially blacklisted from cons because they act negatively in public–no con will take a chance on someone like that since the upside does not outweigh the obvious downside of ruining the con atmosphere.
Promotion and your public face are your best assets for getting long term returns for both yourself and the cons you attend as a guest. Keep that in mind at all times. Being pro-active and promoting before being asked to, and really selling your appearance, will make you an asset, and expand your opportunities.
Next article I'll talk to the con side of things and explain what cons should do when approaching guests, and what can be done to make guests want to come to your event.