After several years of hiatus following a disaster with their first hotel, 2BeContinued is back in a new location, held over the weekend of September 26-28, 2003, at the Radisson Star Plaza in Merrilville, IN. This year they have a large array of guests, including several media guests. Unfortunately, several of the advertised media guests cancelled out at the last minute, which made for a lot of very disappointed fans, hurting the con's position right out of the gate.
Since we knew the dealers' room would open for dealer set-up very early Friday morning, we arrived the previous night and settled in to one of the smaller motels in the area, since we knew it was apt to be a rather small con and wanted to keep our expenses low. The main hotel was really expensive, so we didn't want to sink a lot of money into it.
Friday morning we went over early and found that the dealers' room co-ordinator didn't have the dealers' room open yet. So we sat around and I did some work on rewriting a short story until they got the dealers' room open for setup.
Fortunately, we were able to load directly into the dealers' room from the loading dock, which really sped up the process. To make things even easier, our tables were very close to the door. Because this con had only six-foot tables, we didn't have a lot of backspace, which meant we had to carry a number of empty boxes back out to the van for storage.
Once we got all our merchandise set up, we tried to get our badges, but registration wasn't ready. I also checked the art show, but they didn't have their paperwork ready. So we went back to the dealers' room to wait. I got some work done on a short story I was putting the final rewrite on.
Once we finally got our badges and got my art checked into the art show, it was time for the dealers' room to open. We got a few really good sales, but they were the sort of unusual ones a dealer really can't count on.
The dealers' room was supposed to close at 7PM, but someone else in the concom bullied the dealers' room coordinator to extend the time to 8PM to match some other activities. Since we'd planned our supper hour for the 7PM closing and we weren't getting any customers by that time, we went ahead and closed our tables early.
We went across the road to the New Moon, a Chinese restaurant. We thought it was a buffet, but it turned out that they only have a lunch buffet and the evening was all sit-down. But we got a family meal for two that was pretty good. While we were waiting, I got started on my con report. Later, another dealer came in, and we were talking about sales, only to discover that they hadn't had any sales at all.
Since there weren't any parties advertised, we went back to our room in the outlier motel and went to bed early. That way, we were able to get a reasonable night's sleep for the next day.
Saturday we got up early and went over to open our tables at the dealer's room. While the dealers' room was still closed to the public, we went up to the green room to get some good breakfast munchies.
Sales were mind-numbingly slow, and I spent most of the time working on my novel rewrite, trying to get it into shape. I did go to my panel, "Manuscript Preparation." We talked about how to make the best possible appearance to a prospective publisher, and how it's necessary to know one's markets because there is some variation.
The rest of the afternoon we just sat around in the dealers' room waiting for someone to come buy something. We finally decided that sales were so bad that we'd just spend Sunday redoing our books for eight-foot tables at Archon, and then pack and load out early.
When the dealers' room closed, we went up to the Baen dinner party and had some excellent chili and conversation. We got to talking about history, and how historians can completely agree on the facts of a historical event while fiercely disagreeing about the significance of those events.
After that we went to the con suite and sat around for a while until the Military SF panel at 8PM that Michael Z Williamson and Eric Flint were on. They talked about common errors of authors who have no military experience and have not done sufficient research to offset that lack of personal experience. They also pointed out that a person with military experience can get so wound up in the details of military activity that the story gets lost in them.
After the panel, we tried to go over to the Luau event in the Star Theater. According to the signs that the con had just put up, we were supposed to use the skywalk to get from the Radisson to the Theater. But when we arrived at the entrance to the skywalk, a hotel security person very rudely and arrogantly ordered us to go down to the first floor and walk outside to get to the Theater. So off we trudged, only to discover that the Luau event wasn't ready to start yet. We were so disgusted that we decided not to wait for it to start or to come back later.
We went up to the Duckon and Capricon parties. We stuck around at Duckon for a while and talked, but when we went to the Capricon party, they had a black light. I was already having trouble with a headache from having bumped my head on the underside of our dealer's table while retrieving a box of books, so I didn't even dare go in. We stood outside the party and talked for a while with a friend from the Chicago area before deciding to call it a night and head back to our sleeping room. We did stop at the Radisson front desk on the way out to express our distaste at the rude and high-handed way in which the security guy had treated us.
Sunday morning we had to get up very early to get all our stuff out of the cheap motel and get over to the Radisson. By this point, we were very glad that we had not sunk a huge amount of money into a room at the Radisson, because we would've been losing even more money at that point.
When we arrived, the dealers' room wasn't open yet, nor was the Green Room or the consuite. So we found a table to sit at and I worked on my con report until the Green Room actually opened and we could get some caffeine and food. We also had some interesting conversation with several other panelists about military messes and big-game hunting.
When the dealers' room finally opened, we uncovered our tables and immediately set to re-packing our books to get ready for eight-foot tables at Archon. It wasn't like we were getting an enormous horde of customers eager to buy our merchandise. I also retrieved my art from the art show, since I'd sold absolutely nothing.
Then we packed up early and headed home, thoroughly disgusted at having lost so much money. If the con grows substantially, we may give it another chance at a later date But until there are enough customers to have a decent chance of making expenses, we can't justify going back.
Copyright 2012 by Leigh Kimmel
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Last updated October 21, 2012.