That's all it took to change my life. Dramatic? Possibly. Truth? Definitely.
In early 2013 I made the decision to buy a ticket to UtopYA Con 2013 after hearing about the 2012 event from bloggers and authors I respected. I was getting ready to publish 'Never Let You Fall' and I thought what better way to figure out this whole Indie/self-publishing industry than to dive in.
At this point I was a stay at home mom whose youngest child had just started school and whose husband supported her, but didn't quiet 'get it'. I talked him into going, "Hey, it's Nashville and we've always wanted to go!", secured my fabulous mother-in-law to come watch our kids, and prepared for my first event as a published author.
Best. Decision. Ever.
The number one reason I say this: my spouse. When he walked into UtopYA 2013 he was given a crash course on 'how to be the spouse of a writer'. He realized after listening and talking to other attendees that YES, Facebook and Twitter ARE a necessary tool 90% of the time and I'm actually working while on there (most of the time). He sat in on Marketing and sales panels, he listened to other woman, dreamers like me, who have made their dream of writing a reality. He learned that yoga pants, sweatshirts and take-out will be our new normal - and that it's okay! :) THIS changed my life. He was always supportive but now he GOT IT! #Win
Two other things that happened that first year:
1) A blogger I'd been co-blogging with had to back out of a panel she was supposed to Moderate and UtopYA founder, Janet Wallace, had the crazy idea to put me in her place (WOW!) Here I was, a newly published author about to moderate my very first panel (on blog tours) with some of the BEST ladies around - Amy A Bartol, Addison Moore, Nancy Straight and Tess Watson
First I have a HUGE love for Amy, you all know this by now. I'd already planned my stalking and now I was going to get to 'interview' her about stuff! Add Nancy and Addison and Tess whom I'd been chatting with on-line for several months. This panel was amazing and being a moderator allowed me to set up in the 'bookstore' and sell my book baby for the first time.
2) Then, I won the Grand Prize dinner with keynote speaker Jennifer Armentrout. Yeah, J freaking Armentrout. Not only was did I get dinner with Jenn, but a bevy of other authors/UtopYA staff too.
Authors: Sarah Ross, Raine Thomas, Heather Self, Jenn, Adam Kunz, Tiffany King and Carol Kunz
I was blessed to sit at a meal and just talk to these amazing people. I was also mortified when Jennifer asked me what my book was about and all I could do was freeze. **Have a pitch perfected people!**
There are a million reasons this event is important to me. Over the past two years, I've made amazing friendships with authors and fans thanks to the fabulous community UtopYA fosters. I've learned invaluable information not only from the keynote speakers and panelists at the event but from the Facebook groups and official blog posts too.
Authors: UtopYA isn't just a signing or sales event. You don't come expecting to make a bunch of money - you might, but don't expect it. Come to UtopYA to learn, to meet, to lift others up and to find a tribe, be validated as an author and to share life with amazing creative souls and book lovers like yourself.
Readers: UtopYA isn't an event where you write your name on a sticky note and get two seconds with an author.With the exception of perhaps the keynote speakers (because they are usually only at the event for a few hours) you have a TON of access to authors all weekend. You WILL have time to stand and chat, perhaps do lunch or drinks, with authors. Everyone with a UtopYA Con ticket is considered a part of the team.
Consider buying a ticket to UtopYA 2015 this year. Author or fan its an amazing event and I'd LOVE to see you there.
**Financially speaking - There are typically people looking for roommates in our unofficail UtopYA FB group. I can tell you many people will split 4 to a room making the room roughly $100 per person.**