Disclaimer: This blog post in no way endorses any of the events mentioned, nor seeks to disparage any not mentioned. Just some things to think about and a place to start.
Social media is great. It connects us with readers we would never have reached before. But there’s nothing like personal contact, letting readers hear you and possibly get to know you a bit face to face, even if it’s often terrifying for an author.
The choices for where to do this are staggering. Conventions, retreats, book fairs, festivals—what’s an author to do when there isn’t a lot of money in the budget for travel and event costs? The answer is we have to choose carefully and consider why we’re making these choices. Sometimes you have to whittle it down. There are events for authors. There are events for romance authors. Then there are events for LGBT+ romance authors or genre authors, and while I do think it’s important that we have more of a presence in the traditional romance world, I’m going to concentrate on the events best suited to an LGBT target audience. A lot of the traditional venues are expensive, and if an author lives far from the normal convention cities, it’s a good idea to think about what give you the best exposure for your dollar.
A perfect LGBT book convention would combine the best factors of many of the existing ones: well organized, well attended, with good vending space, a good mix of panels, readings and workshops, time set aside for a signing event, with day passes and public access events along with the full weekend registration agendas. Is there a perfect convention out there for us? I can’t answer that. What’s perfect for one author may not be perfect for another. But every year there are more choices and every year many of those choices are trying new things.
So where do you put your money? I think a large part of that answer has to be concerned with what you’re looking to get out of a convention or event. Sure, conventions are fun, a whirlwind of amazing stuff so often, but the author needs to ask the mercenary question, “What’s in it for me?”
Some things to consider when you’re picking your events this year:
Rainbow Book Fair – New York
Outwrite LGBT Book Festival – Washington DC
Saints and Sinners – New Orleans: "bringing the LGBT literary community together to celebrate the literary arts."
Gaylaxicon – Site varies: annual science fiction, fantasy and horror convention that focuses on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender topics.
Gay Romance Literature Retreat (GRL) – Site varies: gay romance event
Rainbow Con – Tampa: LGBT multimedia event
Left Coast Lesbian Conference – Palm Springs: Lesbian fiction authors, publishers and readers
Bent-Con – Burbank: geared toward LGBT and allied comics and geek pop culture.
HavenCon - Austin: Texas LGBT geek convention (comics, gamin and fandom.)
FlameCon – New York: queer Comic Con, aiming to showcase all aspects of LGBT geekdom.
WinCon – Pittsburgh: LGBT comic con
Golden Crown Literary Society – Site varies: Lesbian literature convention
Euro Pride Con – Munich: LGBT fiction convention
UK GLBT Fiction Meet – Site varies: UK event for and by GLBTQ fans / authors / readers.
Queermance – Melbourne: a celebration of GLBT relationships in fiction.
Angel writes (mostly) Science Fiction and Fantasy centered around gay heroes. Currently living part time in the hectic sprawl of northern Delaware and full time inside her head, she has one husband, one son, two cats, a love of all things beautiful and a terrible addiction to the consumption of both knowledge and chocolate.