I'm going to piggyback off Jaime's blog yesterday and talk a bit more about events. Besides Epic, I've attended three others in the last two years: Lori Fosters, Lora Leigh's, and RT. Each had a much different feel and offered unique opportunities.
RT or the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention is a yearly event that in my opinion has two downfalls. It is rather costly, around $500 just to register for the conference. Add the cost of food and hotel and you are looking at better than $1000 for a five day event. For many, especially ebook authors just starting out, we are lucky to get paid that much in a year making the cost far outweigh any possible benefits. Secondly, it is a huge event. Promotional opportunities are there -- you can purchase a spot on the many tables lining the halls to place bookmarks and such -- for those who have a difficult time socializing in large crowds, it is quite easy to get lost in the sea of authors.
But the information available at RT, in the form of the many workshops offered, more than makes this event worthwhile. Not only are you able to rub elbows with authors you admire (and wanna be like when you grown up:), you can learn some valuable insight on the industry. Who better to learn from than those who have already tread the path? My only wish was that I'd known about RT before being published. The workshops geared toward aspiring authors (info on publishers, how to write a query letter and synopsis, etc.) would have saved me hours of scouring the internet.
The Lori Foster event, held in Columbus, is much more informal than RT. While there were a few workshops, I can't really say much about them, as I did not attend any. Most of the authors camped out in the ballroom, either sitting at one of the tables or just walking around the room mingling. It was a comfortable laid back environment and the purpose, IMO, is not so much to sell your book but to sell yourself. Not only do you have an opportunity to connect with readers, with the technology available to us these days, you can make life-long friendships.
Lora Leigh's event is held every year in Huntington, West Virginia. This event is catered much more towards the reader than it is toward the writer. All of the writer's attending the signing have to be invited, so if you go to this event, most likely you will attending as a reader. But that is okay. Like Lori Foster's, you can still promo yourself and your work just by getting out there and meeting people.
While the conferences vary widely in price and offer different opportunities for you as an author, I would highly suggest checking some out. Writing can be such an isolated occupation -- especially for those just trying to get their start. Attending a conference can help you gain a foothold in the industry, not only through information gained but the friendships you acquire.
Have you attended any conferences recently? What were your thoughts?