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The How To's of Conference Planning

The How To's of Conference Planning

As we prepare for EPICon 2017, I asked a fellow author new to the conference planning business to share a few pointers she's learned during the process. Here's what she sent me.

Adventures in Writing by Kassanna

Did I get your attention? Did you do a double take trying figure out what that simple sentence means? As an author, every story I pen and every world I create, leads me to a new adventure and hopefully readers will come along for the ride.

As much as I love to chat about writing, I do have another love and that event planning. In the last few years, I have been able to marry both my passions and birth an event exclusively for writers and readers alike—Interracial Romance Author’s Expo (IRAE). When I began my writing career, there was no specific event that celebrated the Interracial Genre, and it deserves to be distinguished for its diversity and cultural differences.

IRAE has been put together to connect readers with authors they may have never read, and to connect writers with each other to learn and bond. And it all happens around our love of books. When I started IRAE, I thought one day would be enough. I wanted to create an atmosphere where one could bring their families so while some people attended the Expo, others could see the local sights.

The first IRAE was held at a Disney World Resort and everything that was planned was executed in exactly sixteen hours. Panels, awards, parties, games and book signings, there was so much to do and beyond that, so much more to see. In surveys afterwards, everyone commented how they had fun but didn’t have an opportunity to do anything else. With the planning of the next IRAE, I took that into consideration.

More days were added and events were spread out to give people time to enjoy it. The second time around I had help so the activities flowed and I was able to focus on the major events happening while others made sure that the details were handled. IRAE 2016 was held at a Sheraton exactly a quarter mile from Universal Studios, Florida. The convention went from one to two and a half days.

I never want any two IRAEs to be the same. Each year I want to make sure attendees have new experiences. It’s a process I start planning immediately after the end of the Expo. To guarantee something different, I start searching for the new and unusual. All while negotiating hotel prices and comparing different swag deals so I can get the best bang for my buck, and don’t have to pass on excessive charges to those who want to come to the Expo. In the back of mind I always ask the question: Is this something I would like to have at a convention? And would I be able to use some of the things I receive after the event?

Next Year’s IRAE will be held at the Holiday Inn Hotel and Suites located directly on Daytona Beach. There will be all the activities that make the Interracial Romance Author’s Expo what it is as well as new and fun things planned. Surprises will abound. The conference room overlooks the pool with a clear view to the ocean and the food is excellent. Twenty-five of the hottest IR authors currently writing will be in attendance. The party will start Thursday at 6pm for the Meet and Greet where readers will get to mix and mingle with the featured writers. There will be panels on Friday, awards and books signings on Saturday, and in between there will still be time to enjoy the beach or take a walk on the boardwalk.

Over the coming years, IRAE will only get better, but the challenge will come in balancing the intimate atmosphere with a growing niche. I can honestly say I look forward to it. Hope to see you there so you can experience the full scope of the Expo just remember - Shh! What’s done at IRAE stays at IRAE! Kassanna


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