Convention is one of those multitasking words having a few different meanings. I've recently been to a convention. The Australian Romance Readers Convention (ARRC) in Brisbane, Australia. Authors and readers alike convened to discuss something we love - romance books. Coming together as a group has it's advantages. We had some fun, made new friends, learnt a few things (well I hope we did) and collected more books for our to be read lists. That's not the usage of the word convention I'm having difficulty with though, and not what this blog is about.
The convention that's troubled me over the last few weeks is - the rules, methods, practices or customs that accompanies congregating together. What are the conventions of behavior when, as an author, you meet together with other authors and readers at an event like the one I attended. Now I'm not going to spill any gossip about authors behaving badly or such, in fact, I have no idea if such behavior took place. I am however going to ask a question that has sprung to mind.
As an author, is there a standard of practice, an unwritten code that I need to know about when attending conferences and meeting other authors and readers?
Of course if the practice is unwritten how do I find out about it?
|Australian Romance Readers Convention - 2013 Author photo.|
So, back to Brisbane and ARRC. The convention was filled with authors behaving in different ways. Some were so 'professional' they appeared to be aloof, others were acting like they were on holidays and didn't care what they did as long as they had fun. Now, I like the idea of fun, but how much fun is too much? Do readers want to see authors letting their hair down, drinking too much, engaging in risque topics of conversation or do they want to see the professional writer? And what does the professional look like? I think possibly it's a fine line between the two.
Further questions spring to mind, like...because I write erotic romance if I engaged in discussions about steamy sex (for example) is that more acceptable than an author who writes sweet historical. Would readers have a different perception of what is acceptable from me compared to Ms. Historic? While trying to determine what the correct answer might be, I decided that for me, there is no correct answer. Each author will tackle the rules of convention differently, and each reader will have a different view on the subject as well.
So what did I do at the convention in Brisbane? I chose to be me and behave as I would in any other workplace situation (yes, I'm an author, a convention is part of my work environment). It was all I could do and still remain true to who I am. I think it went well. No one seemed aghast at any of my behavior, everyone I spoke to appeared to be interested in me and hearing about my work. I didn't experience any silent pauses when I entered a room or participated in discussions. I take that as a successful debut into the world of romance gatherings.
So what does everyone think? Is there a convention of behavior for authors? How do you expect an author to behave when at a conference or other public event? Is there a line that shouldn't be crossed or is everything acceptable?