The day after. Everything seems so quiet in retrospect. This is 11 April 2016. Despite the three months of planning that grew in crescendo to a binge of chaos, it is over just like that. This is the day following the Second Annual Brain to Books Cyber Convention and Book Expo of 2016. Who am I? I am its creator. The idea began with me. This is how this day appears to me.
When I say, “Cyber Convention” I feel the curiosity rise in the conversation. I know the question to come. “What is a cyber convention.” I smile. I’m so proud of this, that it takes all my focus not to explode like a giddy school girl. I know what they will gain if they join. I force composure masked by professionalism.
What is it?
The Brain to Books Cyber Convention is a Book Expo and bibliophile’s Convention. Only this one is online. And it’s free. That’s right. It’s all virtually built in Cyber Space. Translation: All of this is just an idea. A live convention, as we’ve taken to calling them this weekend, is an event scheduled once a year in a hotel, warehouse, or stadium. This one event usually boasts an endless list of activities. Like a fair. There is so much to see, so much to do, that you can’t possibly fill it all into one visit. But people try. They grab their camel backs, running shoes, and excitement and jump in for a two day trek into a themed event doing everything they can to snag up every opportunity. But is just isn’t possible.
The Brain to Books Cyber Convention is just like that, only it’s online. There are no walking shoes or camel backs. Or even clothes. Most of us were still in our PJ’s lounging on the couch and not paying a dime for any of this outside of an internet connection. But the events were still there. Those who attended had so many directions, they couldn’t possibly see which way to go first. We built link maps and directions to help guests navigate through this maze.
Our theme, is “Books.” We displayed new books, new releases, cover reveals, emerging authors. We hosted podcasts, discussion panels, and had live coverage. We needed guest speakers. We had blog hops, story hops, blog tours, and story tours. We had giveaways, games, contests, and prizes. We had three days filled with the most amazing group of people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.
When it comes to the cyber convention you have two options: attend as a guest (a reader) or as an entertainer (an author).
In our first year, we had 160 entertainers. We forgot to invite the guests. In our second year, we had 319 entertainers and 458 guests. Some guests jumped right in while others simply stood on the sidelines and observed. Some were authors “scouting” for next year (and there will be a next year). No matter, the 319 entertainers put on a grand show. Our entertainers ranged from writers, authors, podcast hosts, radio show hosts, movie directors, actors, narrators, and musicians. We all were story tellers. And boy… do we know how to tell a story.
The Live Coverage quickly became a hit. Authors flocked to the live coverage for updates, events, and news. Aurelia’s Panel Discussions became the rave every two hours as the collection of intellects launched into deep debates ranging from psychology, trauma, writing, existentialism, and zombies. Utilizing social media platforms such as Goodreads, Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter, the entertainers put on one hell of a show if you don’t mind me saying so.
We engaged readers, debated, wrote, and laughed… oh, did we laugh… and many times—especially in the psychology/trauma panels—we cried. There were even tears near the end when it came time to say goodbye. We simply didn’t want to turn off the cameras and return to the writer’s cave.
From me to you
I’ll tell you what the Cyber Convention really did, for authors and writers, it broke the barrier between writer and world. It pulled each of us introverts out of our isolation and allowed us to finally come face to face with the mass of email names and twitter handles we all had been working with for years. Suddenly we had a smile, a voice, an accent, a face to place with a name. And the most amazing part of all this? The Cyber Convention knows no bounds. This weekend I spoke for hours with Jin Okubo in Japan and Joe Compton in California. I spoke to Joshua Robertson and Timothy Bateson in Alaska. I laughed and cried with Charlene Jones and Joy Jennings in Canada. I spoke to Karina in Greece. I spoke to Matthew William Harrill in Bristol. Other locations? South Africa, Australia, California, France, Ohio, and New York. For 24 hours I spoke to so many countries that when I spoke to Deidre Mapstone, I could recognize her accent. I smiled. “You speak like me!” I squealed. I could hear her accent. “You’re in New York!”
She said “Yes. I live in Rochester.”
“I’m in Binghamton!”
For the first time in my life, I could hear my own accent and how my dialect sounds to others. That is how many different countries I spoke to this weekend.
For an author, the Cyber Convention is about networking. Not selling. It is about connecting. Not sales. For the reader in all of us, its about the story and the hunt to find your next one. For the participants, well… they’ve already penciled in 7, 8, and 9 April 2017 into their calendars. For the book lover, they’re already telling their friends. And for those who just watched, they’ve already contacted me saying, “I missed this, but I want in! How do I do this for 2017?” I smile a kind smile as I recognize another individual, a potential new friend, perhaps a new author who I will work with in a year’s time.
“Email me,” I say. “Anglea@b2bcycon.com. I’ll point you to where you need to go. I’ll take care of you.”
I have hundred of emails waiting for me. Winners to contact. Books to distribute. A new release to get over to my editor… but for these last three days, all that mattered were the people who reminded me why we are here and still writing.
Thank you and may the kindest of words always find you.