Thursday, September 1

Two Cons in less than a Week, the comparison

It only took me a few weeks, but I finally have my blog done.

I am one of the few people who went to Romcon AND Authors After Dark so close together. I know that every Con experience is individual, but I have been going to them for years. Plus, I will preface this with a bit of truth. I almost cancelled my trip to Romcon and you will see why in the summary. Also, it might seem like bad form to do this. I wanted to be honest and since I apparently have a bad rep with one con already, I figured I would let you know what I think. Makes me sound like a complete bitch, but, heck, considering everything, this isn't that bad. I could have gotten much worse in my blog post.

So, I have some thoughts I would like to share:

Location:
Romcon: Denver, close to the airport, and unfortunately, in the same hotel as last year. There isn't enough within walking distance to do there. I am lucky because Brandy lives five minutes away so I had wheels, but many of the authors did not and found themselves with limited choices for food (which was important as you will see later).

AAD: Philly, and I will admit, I love Philly. I like Denver too, but I like going different places.

AAD wins just cuz I like Philly.

HOTEL:
Romcon: Okay, as I said, same hotel as last year, and apparently they are planning on staying there. Bad choice. This hotel has a very limited menu, although I do love the 24 hour room service. But, there is little in choice to eat. There are some restaurants, but they are a little walk away and you have limited time for that.

AAD: Another loss in a way. I am not a fan of Hilton since working for them years ago. I have also been to a few writer/reader cons and other events at them, and there is always a huge problem.

TIE (but AAD edges out because Stella is moving it to NOLA next year. Learning from mistakes is important when running a Con. And Savannah the year after that. Two cities I really like.)

Meals:
Romcon:
You had to pay for these. 35 bucks a meal, and believe me, it wasn't worth it. I only went to one, the Western Dinner and I found the food lacking. That is after arranging these things as the head of the OWC years ago.  These were not well planned at all. The cobbler was kick ass though and I did like being able to add ice cream to it. We didn't know what the meat was to begin with, ick. There was no lunch that I know of, no breakfast. I usually do the room service for breakfast, and like I said, Brandy had wheels, so I had a way around. But, good lord, the cafe at the hotel SUCKED. I think it got worse from last year to this year. This is not under the control of Romcon per se, but then, they are signing up for next year there.

AAD
I had thought we were having lunch every day, but apparently not. That being said, breakfast was sponsored by people, so there was that( again, I don't do breakfast unless Mr. Brandy drags our asses out early in the morning). Dinner was good. I didn't go Sat night mainly because my flight was at 6:30 in the morning, and I had a slight migraine, but heard it wasn't too bad. Believe me, after years of a military wife, I have been to a lot functions like this. Food wise, it wasn't gourmet, but unlike Romcon, I knew what the food was. AND, I didn't have to pay 35 bucks extra. And just so everyone knows, most banquets only offer coffee, tea and water. A cash bar would have been great, but not a deal breaker. The Mythos bar had the open bar before hand. Oh, and the dancing part...Good lord, HILTON, 5 dollars for bottled water? That was just outrageous, but like with Romcon and their hotel issues, I can't grade down on that fact because there is only so much you can negotiate.

Win: AAD cuz I didn't have to pay for all my meals, and the food was edible.

Panels
Romcon:
It is kind of confusing at first at Romcon, but this was my second one so I sort of knew what was going on. There are Panels, Intimate Chats, Mixers, Teas...I think that is all. I was only on one panel, I think. I think I put in for more than the Erotic Authors, but apparently, didn't get picked up or it got lost. (this happened a lot with my emails to Romcon apparently). We had a good group, but then, they had name cards only for a few people. I was one of them left off and I tried to leave because hey, I could go party a little, right? Beth Williamson made me stay, meanie. Anyway, it went well and there was a good variety of authors there.  There were teas, in which they didn't get their food for, and then, there are the games. Listen, I know some people like games. I do not. I do not want to go play game after game. It is truly irritating. I understand having a few, but it is like a freaking requirement at Romcon. I missed the Erotic Authors mixer, but I understand it went over well. Beth set up a bingo thing with our covers on it. Again, the games. <G>

AAD: I was on several, two I missed because, yes, I forgot or wrote down the wrong info. This is mainly Brandy's fault because she wasn't there to tell me, lol. No really, I liked the panels. They were more about sharing the experience. The three that I made it to were The Digital Revolution, Ebook Authors, and BDSM. I had to skip one because my plane didn't make it in on time, the multicultural/interracial one, and I am sorry to have missed that. The historical one I was double booked. Anway, I liked the way they were ran. Good sharing on the BDSM too, and apparently from the emails I have gotten, I had a few people upset with me when I said I would not submit to NY publishers on the Ebook author talk. Mentioning that I would have to take a cut in pay to be a NY author apparently offended. Sorry, truth.

The actual panels were similar, but AAD edges out because they don't make me play games. Oh, and they had different panels than Contemp, Erotic, etc. There were some interesting subjects discussed and apparently the BDSM one is going to be part of a documentary.


Events I sponsored

Romcon: My Luau kicked some major ARSE, but not after having to fight for every little thing. You would think that they would ask me what I wanted since I lived there for three years. Uh, no. Just an FYI, pork is a BIG thing at Luaus. I could not get it at mine apparently. The staff at my event was WONDERFUL. They worked hard, helped us set up and were very nice. I also sponsored the Mangasm. I did not like this at all. I was in a lot of pain by that point and it was apparently really important that I play a game, plus, there wasn't enough chocolate IMHO. It was called CHOCOLATE MANGASM, but the people spent more time playing flipping games. And, the other people all paid 15 bucks to get in and each author paid 500 bucks. So not worth it IMHO. Because I was cornered and told I HAD to be there because I sponsored it, sent me into a pain spiral I never recovered from. I then missed all of Saturday because of the migraine.

AAD:
I was one of the sponsor authors. I am not sure how that happened, but when Stella asked me, I knew it was a good idea. I got my name on everything, which was nice. And, I was one of the sponsors of the Mythos Ball. I was pretty happy with that. I brought my stuff down, Stella had people to fill the bags. It made it easier to spend time with the readers.
Open Bar with my friend Kris Cook was fantabulous. I paid less than I did for the Luau, and it was topshelf. It was a bit crazy, but Stella made sure it was set up in the path that everyone would go for the Mythos Ball, so everyone could stop by. We had issues with getting it paid for because of the hotel, but like with issues at Romcon, this was not AAD's fault. The staff, like at Romcon, was great and made Kris and I some really loaded drinks. And, apparently, everyone loved it. It was great to have our Kindle Winner to be the only member of a book group who didn't have an ereader. How great was that????

AAD wins this hands down. Apparently, rumor is that I was badmouthed as not paying for things before I signed up for stuff at Romcon. That explains why I paid FIVE FUCKING THOUSAND DOLLARS for my cocktail hour and the food was used the next day for the NEXT cocktail hour. And it was insinuated I couldn't afford things also when dealing with people. You should never assume that because I am a small press author that I don't have the money to pay for things. I find it ironic considering who was doing the badmouthing.

Booksigning

Well, Romcon didn't have one. They tried several other places once Borders had to back out and couldn't get them. This is a huge problem for cons, not just Romcon. It is hard to find someone who wants to deal with it. There were other options, though. Author, Author is a great program and I personally ordered 200 copies of ALH Sex from her in print. (I PAID for these myself, hint hint ROMCON) She was never approached or so I heard from another author. There is always an option of setting something up with authors, but this was not done.

AAD
Some books were missing, but this happens all the time at cons. I had an author sitting next to me at my last RT who hasn't had books for two years running, even tho she is with a NY pub. So it has nothing to do with small pubs. And, I didn't like the set up of getting the books out in the hallway. I think some of the small press authors who had to sell their books sold more because they had them on the table. This was my biggest complaint. I know there is a reason for it, but I think it would work better some other way, JMHO.  Oh, and those of us in the middle were the host authors. We actually paid more money to help lower the cost for readers. I don't say that to be a bitch, I just heard there was some confusion over it.
Win: ADD because they actually had a signing

There were problems with both. They seemed unorganized and they are. All reader cons that I have been to are sort of that way. It is a bunch of crazy readers and writers packed into a hotel, mostly women, although there were a few males, and we don't sleep. Of course it is insane.

 So, I can't give an edge to either of them on that. AAD had the problem of being in an unfamiliar hotel, and they double booked us against another con after some promises had been made. Romcon just had issues with scheduling a bit, but that is normal.

My overall feeling at the con:

As with last year, I felt like a red headed step child at Romcon. When getting the thing set up for my luau, I couldn't get a list of things that would be offered. I was freaking paying for it, and they couldn't tell me. When they did, it included lobster claws. LOBSTER? I mean, I love lobster, but they had been so worried about having enough food, you would think they were do their best to stretch the money I paid. Apparently not. We got that pulled off there and added some other things. Still, I was left with the overall feeling that I was second tier author who shouldn't have the nerve to expect the same treatment. Also for me, it felt like how the RWA would run a con. I don't have pleasant feelings toward RWA, as many of you know, so that should tell you how I feel about it.  Overall, I felt unwanted there. There was no communal feeling, no hanging in the bar.

My main feeling is that I will go back to AAD. Kris and I are going to do another open bar with a theme which should be fun. And, I am hosting a party for Harmless too. (Stella never insinuated I could not afford it, lol) There were issues with Stella being too overwhelmed. From what I understand, this was much bigger than last year. And, I am sure some people were upset with things. But after doing both cons so closely together, I think I can say that for me, AAD was the better con. From the moment I arrived, there was an energy that I just didn't get at Romcon both years I was there. There are some issues that need to be ironed out, but nothing that bothered me. From the time that I contacted Stella about going, she treated me with respect. I know there were incidents there, but as one author said, she didn't get yelled at for entering a room. That happened at Romcon to her. This will put me on the Do Not Allow list at Romcon, and I am sure a lot of people will unfollow me and leave my facebook groups and page, but I really don't care at this point. I felt very cheated for the money I put out, and it was a lot more than at AAD, and I was a sponsor for AAD!

Overall win: AAD
Sadly, I knew this would happen. As I said, Romcon has an RWA feel to it. I don't want to hang out with just authors. I mean, I like authors, but I want to have fun with readers that don't involve world scrambles or other games. If you want a very sedate, game playing sort of conference, where you WILL pay extra for your dinners, with very little options for food, I would say go with Romcon. I am sure there will be people who will like that better. I just like AAD because there was more focus on the readers. There were tons of swag, which I found lacking at Romcon and tons of books. Plus, there was a yahoo group to keep us all informed. Granted, I forgot to go look sometimes, but it worked for me. There was no interaction like that with the staff, at least I didn't know about it. Oh, and another thing Romcon. Bad mouthing authors is always going to get back to them. I pay my bills, and all I wanted was a good luau. I did  have a GREAT party, despite dealing with RomCon. Mainly because of Brandy. She helped me from before I got there. I don't worry about how this is viewed by the Romcon staff. I will NEVER attend again for more than the reasons I put here. If you knew everything I knew, you would say I was super nice in this post. I am sure I come off as a bitch, but the truth of the matter is I am a sweetheart for not telling all the secrets I know.

But then, I do have a split personality.




18 comments:

Harlie Reader said...

I don't hate you but after hearing from some other people comparing Con and AAD, AAD definitely wins out.

I didn't go to either but after hearing about them, I would go to AAD.

Harlie Reader said...

Having a split personality isn't necessarily a bad thing. LOL!

Melissa Schroeder said...

LOL yeah that is true!

limecello said...

I've never been to AAD so I can't make a comparison, but I'm 1000% with you on the RomCon hotel. Not just 100, but 1000. I hated it. Nice enough hotel - not that great, and actually I was really disappointed for it being a Crowne Plaza...
But OMG the location. So painfully awful, especially for something (the conference) that expensive.
I was floored when I heard they were keeping the same location for 2011, and... well I'm just not surprised about 2012. Nobody really seemed to talk about RomCon that went - or did I just miss it all?

Rita Sawyer said...

Nothing bitchy about your post. I didn't do RomCon this year because of a lot of the reasons you pointed out. Mostly cause it was held at the same hotel as previous year, and as you pointed out not much around there. Although I'm sorry I missed out on your Luau.

Was great seeing you at AAD.

Melissa Schroeder said...

Lime,
Nope, there was little chatter about it. AAD was different. Whether good or bad, there was talk. There were problems with both, but the atmosphere at AAD was just so much more fun. I hope you can go next year!

Melissa Schroeder said...

Rita, the only reason I really went was because ALHO came out that week. Then, there was no booksigning. I was never told, were other authors were from what I understand. I had a reader tell me. That hotel was a horrible location for a con.

desi said...

If I was a reader and went to RomCon I would be upset there weren't any signings. I would loved to go to AAD in NOLA but it seems so expensive for even a reader to go.
I am sorry you didn't enjoy it all but atleast you enjoyed some.
Keep writing and not publishing under a NY publisher I will still buy them. I enjoy your books more than half of what the NY publishers put out. And their prices for books are getting spendy.

Marie Tuhart said...

Thanks for your opinion on both conferences. I've never been to either, was thinking about RomCon next year but now I wonder if that's such a good idea. I want to connect with readers, I connect with authors at RWA functions.

And I see nothing bad in your post, you laid it out pros and cons from what you experienced. I appreciate that.

Jane said...

I haven't heard that much about ADD, but there were tons of blog posts about people attend Romcon. I did see many pics of your awesome luau, so congrats on that. I wish we could hear some more of those secrets you know.

Celtie said...

I only went to AAD because of you and Kris and I had a great time with you. I felt the disorganization but that is cause I am OCD with some things. I thought the food was good not great but whatever. I totally agree with you about the feeling of excitement from both the authors and readers. Everyone was very friendly and helpful. I am not able to go to go to AAD next year :( but I will try for 2013. All in all I think I got my monies worth at AAD.
I love how honest you are about the cons I had never been to a con before and as a reader who can't afford to blow money I think honesty from an author is a great. I will not support a Convention that badmouths authors or really doesn't seem to care about the readers (no book signing WTF).

Melissa Schroeder said...

Jane, that is really odd because I saw little to nothing about Romcon. I mean in social media. I do know there are still comments being made on twitter with the hashtag for it.

Larissa {Larissa's Bookish Life} said...

Loved you post Melissa!

AAD is the only con I have ever been to(Comic Com doesnt really count LOL), but from what I generally hear from people, AAD is singular in its atmosphere.

I had a blast this year and was so fortunate to get to spend so much wuality time with people I adore and to have met so many incredible people, including you and Kris, who were absolutely fabulous!

I'm so happy that you'll be going next year! I cant wait to see you all again! =d

Melissa Schroeder said...

Ah, the booksigning and from what I understand, there will not be one next year. For me, this is going to matter very little because as I move into more self publishing, the ability to get my books at signings might become tough. Though, if I have to sell them myself, I have no problem with that! But, yes, since they seem to be very interested in NY authors and seem to care less about small press authors, you would think they would have one. But, then, I am not going ever again, so I guess it doesn't matter.

Melissa Schroeder said...

Larissa,
Thank you! If it had not been for Joy and Ali talking me into it, I would not have gone. I am so glad they did. I will go every year if Stella will let me. Kris and I are ready to host another open bar so VERY excited about that!

Larissa {Larissa's Bookish Life} said...

@Melissa

well, if it's anything like the last one, it will be awesome! =D

Jane said...

Melissa, most of the posts basically mentioned how much fun they had at RomCon. These posts were from the attendees(readers, bloggers) not authors.

flchen1 said...

Loved hearing about these, Mel--I'm so going to all these one of these years!

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