Or, how I handle confusion (theoretically).
It’s an online (the CY is for cyber) convention (the CON).
The B2B part stands for Brain to Books. I guess that refers to the process of writing a book? Here’s the front door to the Goodreads site for this B2BCyCon weekend.
When I was asked to participate a month or so ago, I thought, “OK. I’ll jump. I’m up for new things. ”
Today’s post was to be the one that would explain how this second annual B2BCyCon works. How you to might participate as an author. Or, what it offers you, as a fair goer reader.
Yes; that was the plan.
Instead, this has become the post in which I will explain how I deal with confusion.
I’ve been confused a lot lately. Much has been happening in my life and technology just adds another layer of complexity. But leaving my technology-addled brain aside, this B2BCyCon expo begins in two days , I’m a participant– I even have a booth — and I haven’t a clue, really, what I’m to do.
First thing I do is stand still for a bit.
It is a jumble … like a giant airplane hanger, normally filled with forty 747s, but now filled with people. People from all over the world are buzzing around, talking among themselves, … all having a great time and I’m just standing here, still near the door where I’ve entered, wondering what to do.
And oh the noise! It’s echoing off the walls; deafening.
I push away the assumption that everyone else knows just what they are doing. That I’m the only one confused and feeling lost here. And I do it more than once.
I’m supposed to go “backstage.” That’s where all the activity takes place before the “fair” opens. but I can’t find “backstage.” I remember, vaguely, joining it many moon ago. Ah, so there are TWO separate websites?
I listen in on a few of the conversations.
None of them seem to pertain to why I’m there (to promote my memoir, At Home on the Kazakh Steppe). But the longer I stand and stare, the more questions form in my mind.
There are so many science fiction books, lots of romance — paranormal romance? What is that? — and all sorts of fantasy genres. I don’t see any other memoirs.
I ask the woman who asked me. She’s a memoirist. I’ll hang out with her; maybe just stand in her shadow and observe. I don’t mind just observing this first time.
Where should I go first? I ask her.
To my booth. That seems logical. But …
Where’s my booth?
Start a new “discussion.” That’s my booth. Oh, and don’t call it your book’s title. Use something broader.
OK. I open by booth. I’m calling it, Travel Memoirs — Leaving It All Behind.
I assume other travel memoirs will join me at my booth. Silly me. Assume: you know the story.
Still, how will anyone find me, memoirist or not?
I need to spruce up my booth a bit. Visuals would be nice; images; the cover of my book, of course. I see other “booths” have hung their book covers up. How do I hang my book cover photo?
I ask the convention leader. How do I hang my cover photo? Instead of an answer, someone comes in during the night and hangs it for me. But it’s an old cover, one I don’t use anymore. Wherever did she find that one? I want to take it down. I call out, Help. But …
… it’s such a big arena that my question goes unanswered, unheard. Everyone is so busy. After all, the convention begins in just two days.
I think of turning around and leaving. That’s always an option, I know.
Just because I once said “Yes,” does not mean I cannot now say “No.”
I believe that. But I’m thinking I’ll regret it, come Monday, if I leave. I want to figure it out. I want to stop feeling so confused. And, it’ll make a good blog post. It’s in the category I call Life.
Besides, I’ve already invited a slew of my FB friends, many of whom have said they’d attend. I can’t just not show up. How rude! I should mention, this isn’t just happening on Goodreads; it’s spilling over onto Facebook. Somehow.
I for sure won’t learn anything if I leave before it starts. Even if I just go through the motions, I’ll still learn something, probably. That’s usually how it works. Something will stick.
I don’t have to do it perfectly.
I look around me. I see big signs:
They read: Discussion Board, Events, Friends in the Group (I see two that I know), Members (there are 639). There’s a Poll I can take to show what country I’m from. Vast majority are American after all. I see a bookshelf; it’s got 88 books on it. Do I add mine? I can’t tell; I don’t want to seem pushy.
I walk over closer to the Discussion Board. Is my “discussion” there? I don’t see it.
But I do notice a slew of big signs. One says WELCOME TO THE FAIR. That sounds promising. I stand beneath and see three additional signs: Entrance (that sounds hopeful), Questions (ah, at last), and FAQs I’ll need to come back to these soon. First, I want to keep looking around:
Other signs in this Discussion Board say
THE FAIR GROUNDS
“JACK POT GIVEAWAYS”
I need to find my booth. It’s where I’ll be meeting my “guests” (I think). I should know how to find it. But the noise in the background keeps getting louder and louder and it’s hard to think.
Ah, there it is, inside THE FAIR GROUNDS. But it’s one of over 100 other “booths.” I guess they want the fairgoers to just wander up and down the aisles? Doesn’t seem very efficient. I mean, if I’m interested in historical fiction, I really don’t want to wander down the paranormal romance aisle. Is there an historical fiction aisle? Is there a memoir aisle?
There is a map, I’m told. And I go to look for it. Maps are always good to have. Alas. It’s time to sit down and ponder a bit.
I am convinced I don’t want to explore those other genres, but why? Is this one of those quick-in-for-a-bottle-of-milk-and-out-again trips or is this one of those get-the-cart-and-start-at-the-beginning trips. Frankly, I’m almost always a take-the-cart-just-in-case kind of shopper. Because, you never know, I could see something I’d like to try that’s not on my list.
But not here; not with books.
Why do the various fantasy booths leave me cold? I’m not sure. I don’t go down the laundry detergent aisle in my local grocery store either. I know they don’t carry what I want to use, so I just don’t bother. It saves time.
Am I denying myself an important new discovery or am I saving myself time and energy to devote to something else? More importantly, how do I know?
- I missed the deadline for the Book Giveaway.
- I only yesterday discovered there’s a video to take me step-by-step (I didn’t see a video when I first walked in; funny how, the longer you stand still, the more your eyes adjust to the light. Sometimes, it just takes time.)
- And, while I now know how to hang photos in my booth, I’ve decided not to. Maybe next year.
I also haven’t scheduled any games, no giveaways, no prizes. Just me, sitting in my booth, waiting to have a conversation.
So, come Friday, I’m going to show up.
That’s always the first thing: to just show up.
And I’ll show up again on Saturday and again, Sunday morning. I’m also committed to enjoying myself. During a slow spell, I’ll go get me a virtual funnel cake. I see there is a funnel cake booth.
Will I see you there? I hope so.
This sounds like something I should be doing… congratulations on taking the plunge. Next time you’ll know what to do from the start. I like the way you take us through your experience.
Thank you, Marianne. I do believe it’s not to late to jump in. What genre is your book?
It sounds absolutely terrifying. Well done for persevering.
Hello Carolyn. Thanks for the validation. It was tempting to just throw in the towel. But then, where’s the story?
This sounds dreadfully familiar. Have you been inside my head, sharing my confusion at events of this sort?
I used to be like this and hated it. Now, whenever I go to andevent of this sort (we don’t have a lot of big conventions in UK, they tend to be smaller, but just as confusing) I take everything imaginable that I might need. This includes A2 size laminated posters of all my book covers, blurbs and synopses with which to cover any available wall space, a reviews folder for people to browse through, a stand to display books full face, and then things like board pins, sticky tape and a notepad to scribble down anything I need to remember like the contact details of people who come to talk to me. I even take along a few strange looking artefacts brought back from distant lands in the Dark Continent for people to handle, hoping these might provoke some interest in my work.
The event then invariably involves hours of sitting hoping for someone to talk to whilst chatting inconsequentially with others in the same boat as me, all waiting for interest to arrive, watching Joe Public drift past gazing disinterestedly in my direction, his mind on other genres.
And at the end of it all I wonder why I did it, resolving not to bother again. But of course I do. I’m an author and, like a moth to a lamp, I can’t resist an opportunity to showcase my books.
But I still don’t understand what I’m doing.
Thanks Ian. Of course, that’s the beauty of this one being online. Nothing really to lug. We’ll see how it goes. Fingers crossed.
I’ve only tried the ones where you have to turn up and see people face to face. I can cope with those. On-line things confuse me totally because my brain doesn’t recognise what’s going on or how to do things. If it can’t be done with a quill, a penknife and a bit of string I don’t bother trying. I hope your experience was successful.
What? No duck tape?
Yes, every kind of sticky tape you can imagine. I recently discovered Gorilla Tape. Now that’s really something, it sticks to absolutely anything, wet, or dry, even teflon! Trouble is it’s a sod to get off the rll, one needs the strength of a gorilla just to unroll a few inches.
Well, I can understand your confusion here. It seems things were not well organized or explained for newcomers. The invitation confused me–I was certain if it was an invitation to be a participant or your guest, and what I should do in either case. (Or if I needed to be there the whole time!) Now I know, and I will try to find your virtual booth to say hi at some point. Is there a virtual coffee booth? 🙂
I hope you make some great contacts and sell some books, too.
(You know I’m doing the book festival later this month, and I’m still a bit confused about what it is and who will be there. There doesn’t seem to be any information about the other authors–at least nothing that I’ve seen. A friend of mine who goes to the same library hadn’t heard of the event. I hope some people will actually stop and talk to me–and buy some books, too.)
Hi Merril, I think the whole cyber convention idea is so new to us, it’s been hard to grasp. Reminded me at first of the joke about the most successful fund raiser is the one that’s held in a phone booth but sells a lot of tickets. (Raise money, but no one comes — small enough to stand in a phone booth. Oh dear; how many people won’t know what a phone booth is!)
The other is that it’s a convention geared I think to mind mappers, while I tend to be a more linear thinker. This is much more network (aka spider web) oriented.
I promise, if you do drop by, I’ll be sure to offer you some coffee. My years with the We Love Memoirs FB group has given me ideas. 🙂
I’ve attended a couple of cyber conventions before, but they were history conventions with papers and sessions that you could access at any time. (Well, I guess the actual session you could access an audio or video after they took place.) I didn’t really do the real time interaction stuff, but I also didn’t know any of the people.
Janet, you are such a pioneer! I can relate to your confusion. I had the same reactions when I checked out the description. These online events are usually labor-intensive but worthwhile for all the new friends you’ll make. I’ll be observing and learning through you and I will stop by, that is if I can find you. Enjoy!
Thanks Kathy. I’ll look forward to chatting with you. I’ll of course be in and out. Perhaps you could have me paged over the loud speaker? (I can see I’m starting to get the hang of it).
Confusion, ah, now you’ve nailed it. I feel confusing moments almost every day, I suppose a sign of growth.
At your retreat I learned about #onelineWednesday on Twitter. Just this morning I was trying to find the theme for this week. Googled it to find the “official” website, but couldn’t get anywhere. (Incidentally, the theme is UP for this week.)
Thankfully, Kathy Pooler helped with the hashtag: #1linetheme. That’s about as far as I’m going into complexity today. However, I am curious about the woman who shared one of my pins from my post today. (Yes, I’m new to Pinterest too.) Cyber Convention will have to wait. After all, I do have a book to write – ha!
A virtual funnel cake? I’ll decline that one too. I admire your innovation here.
And chocolate. 🙂 When you get the #1lineWednesday conquered, Marian, I trust you’ll teach me. I keep forgetting.
And mints. You don’t want to go breathing nasty fumes over the people you’re talking to, even chocolaty fumes. 🙂
Could someone explain what a funnel cake is, please? I’m confused.
It’s essentially fried dough. Usually with powdered sugar on top, or cinnamon and sugar. Carnival food. Eaten with fingers. One of four delicious food groups.
It sounds a bit like cattle cake. Hmmm. Perhaps I’ll give that a miss. Fruitcake tastes much better. 🙂
Sounds a bit nutty to me…but congratulations on trying something new. I do believe we should all do that!
Nutty? Like those sugar coated nuts you can get at the state fairs?
Hi Terry. Always good to hear from you.
Joan Z. Rough
And I thought I was scared of going to Book Expo America. I couldn’t do this if you paid me. You are brave and stubborn Janet!
At BEA, at least I’ll be on the ground, seeing real people, talking with my mouth, and being able to ask questions at the information booth where human beings with real heads, arms, legs, and lives might be able to help me.
Good luck with this! I want to know more about your confusing experience. It could help this confused individual.
Actually, since I’m basically cheap, this CyberConvention works well for me. No travel costs, hotel, food, etc. etc. And, a multi-tasker at heart, I have the computer on, open to that tab, so that as folks “drop by” I can respond. But I can also get a lot of other work taken care of — like reorganized my office. In fact, I as write this, I’ve got the B2B screen up, AND I’m participating in a local development committee via Skype.
I’m eager to hear of your experience at the BEA. So, be sure to keep me posted.