Aussie Writers at International Conferences


Recently I went to Las Vegas to be part of Romantic Times, both participating as a panelist/helper in events and as an author selling at the Giant Book Fair and the Reader Writer Round Up. You can find out about my overall advice on convention attendance here. However, I wanted to look specifically in this post at what it was like as an Australian Author going to an American convention.

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Understand the language differences

On my first full day in Vegas, I asked the guest services receptionist if she had any jugs, which was followed by some confusion, and me asking “Do you not have jugs in America?” Then I clicked and asked for a pitcher. After I got off the phone, my mother reminded me that jugs also means boobs.

So much of my mental processing was making sure I was using the correct terminology:

  • Lollie = candy
  • Soft drink = soda
  • Thong = something that sits in a different crack.
  • Buttons = badges
  • Fairy Floss = Cotton Candy

Then there was ‘Lucky Dip’ – and there wasn’t really anything that Americans had to deal with that. I had a lucky dip with an Australian prize for everyone who purchased my book. So many people asked what the heck a lucky dip was. This created some great conversations.

Americans love Australian Accents

“I could listen to you talk all day” and the like was said to me a lot at the conference. And I worked it. I started conversations up with complete strangers so much throughout my visit, and people loved talking to an Aussie. It resulted in so many friendships being formed, a lot of fun, and even some book sales.

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Americans love Australian Swag

My mum accompanied me on the trip to be my personal assistant, and she decided to buy a whole heap of Australian swag – pens, animal pencil cases, koala clips. They were so popular it was amazing. People were squeeing at the koalas, and making grabs for the pens. I will definitely have more Aussie stuff on offer if I return to America.

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Americans love buttons

I don’t mean buttons on your shirt. I mean buttons, pins, badges. It’s not something I’ve noticed as much in Australia, but if you’re going to America, I would highly recommend including buttons in your swag.

Know what you’ve got to offer Americans

I had no idea that an interracial relationship would be a selling point for so many people at the conference. Sometimes I simple forget that Mishca and Ryder are an interracial couple, as I simple see them as a couple. I didn’t have anything that showed my main characters at my table. I believe if I had, based on the feedback, that my book would have received a lot more attention.

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I wasn’t the only Australian at Romantic Times. It was a great opportunity to network,  make new friends, and sell books!

If you’ve had experience at conventions overseas, please add your advice in the comments.

Sharon M. Johnston is a writer from Mackay, Queensland who writes Young Adult and New Adult fiction, who also has a thing for cats, unicorns and socks.

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