Authorcon 3/Scares That Care 2024 Roundup with Kev Harrison and Michael Clark

Kev Harrison and Michael Clark at Authorcon 3 2024
Two weeks ago, I went to Authorcon 3, part of the Scares That Care series of horror conventions in Williamsburg, VA. It was my first big convention of this kind, and I shared a vendor table with fellow author Michael Clark, who had visited Scares That Care previously, way back in 2021, though this was his first time as a vendor. In this article, we plan to share some insights into what the festival was like. What we did right, what we would perhaps do differently in the future, and more.

Arriving at Authorcon

Kev: First of all, for me, coming from Europe, I made the decision to arrive in Williamsburg a couple days before the festival started. This is because of the distance travelled and the change of time zone. I really didn’t want to be falling asleep on the first day of the convention at 5pm. In retrospect, I probably could have arrived a day later and still felt fine.

One reason I did feel this was a good idea though, is that the Thursday night before Authorcon officially opens, you can meet up with practically everyone in the bar of the hotel. Everyone is excited as hell to be there and there’s a really great energy in the room. Because it’s before the vending, panels and readings begin, everyone’s social batteries are fully charged, so it just naturally turned into a bit of a party. I met so many people I’d known online for years, so I would absolutely recommend getting there at least the day before the convention if you can.

Mike: I echo Kev’s take on the Thursday arrival. I flew from Manchester, NH, to Norfolk, Virginia, with a connection in Baltimore, and for anyone who has flown since COVID, you know that there are a million things that can go wrong from missed connections to missing bags. I have even stopped checking bags whenever possible, but if you’re vending, you need to carry a bunch of stuff with you.

After two planes and an hour’s drive, I was ready to unwind. Thankfully, Kev had already arranged to meet Gemma Amor and Ally Wilkes, so within an hour of arrival, I was surrounded by British accents, and it was off to the races. I think everyone felt the same. We were amongst other writers that we recognized from social media, and it was fun to connect, like meeting celebrities.

The Opening Ceremony:

Kev: I’m naturally quite a cynical person—probably the Britishness—but even I was quite moved by the opening ceremony and the focus at Authorcon on the charity aspect of Scares That Care. You really get the feeling that you’re there not only to meet your peers and readers, sell some books, etc, but there’s a real focus on the good this convention does. There was also a big focus on making sure that everyone feels welcome and part of the ‘family.’ As the weekend went on, that really did feel true and from all sides (more on this later).

Mike: Yes, Brian Keene and the entire staff are there out of the goodness of their hearts. No one is paid. Together, we got the hashtags ‘ScaresThatCare,’ “AuthorCon3,” and ‘FightRealMonsters” trending on Instagram. We also got to see some of the people that the charity helped receive their checks. It was very touching.

Running a Vending Table:

Kev: This was my first time vending, so I came in completely blind. I had a huge banner made with my name and some of my more eye-catching book covers on it, which was really helpful in making sure people knew who I was when they came to my table. I had my publishers send copies of my books to the hotel we were staying in (and they were kind enough to accept the deliveries) and, if you’re travelling a long way, this will help keep costs down and allow you to use your luggage space for important things like clothes and so forth.

What I didn’t think through was how the books were going to be displayed on the table. Many authors around me brought plastic or metal display mountings for books and this gave them a much more professional look. I would definitely pick some of these up for future conventions, as my books were basically just stacked on top of one another. I also took quite a bit of merch: pin badges, coasters, fridge magnets, all featuring my cover art from various books. Some people took these, but I think a more sensible approach would’ve been bookmarks—something more useful—with QR codes linking readers to my website or newsletter links. Something else for next time.

Mike: I have been fortunate to attend the Merrimack Valley Halloween Festival twice, so I have some experience culling ideas. However, I had to fly to AuthorCon, so I had to rethink some things. If anybody wants my list of things to bring, send me an email at, and I’ll be glad to share it.

Interacting with other authors and creators:

Kev: When we got our author table, we immediately saw we were next to Wrath James White (basically a living legend of the genre). We were daunted but, as soon as he came over (with his extremely friendly sister who was helping him run his table), he said hi and introduced himself. No big shot attitude at all, even though he sold a whole bookstore full of titles as the weekend went on. This would be the general pattern of the weekend. Whether you were chatting to someone who’d sold thousands of books over the course of decades or someone who, like us, was newer to the scene and perhaps pushing only a couple of titles, everyone wanted to know who you were, how you were doing and treated you as a peer. This was a massive positive for me and calmed my nerves as a newbie.

Mike: Sitting next to Wrath (and Nicki) all weekend will pay dividends for years to come. He showed me some of the things he does to make TikTok easier, and as Kev mentioned, he’s the salt of the Earth type. Go meet him if you get the chance!

While watching him sign books non-stop all weekend was humbling, however, I think we all had a moment or two when a fan said hello or thanked us for writing, and for that, I am grateful.

I also had a nice talk with Todd Keisling, who had some kind words to say. The horror community is pretty tight-knit, and you can’t help but appreciate the help others are willing to give.

Panels and Readings:

Kev: I did a reading with a folk horror writer of gruesome Appalachian fiction, called Tony Evans. We knew each other to some extent online before the event, but he, as well as the small audience for the reading, was very supportive of me in my first-ever reading and, clearly, the organisers had thought about the pairing of the two of us, as we each had folklore heavy work to read from. The reading was really worth doing, I felt, as it led directly to a number of conversations with people from the audience and a handful of direct sales the next day, too.

Mike: I was happy to be on the reading schedule. It was my first reading at a “con” (even though it’s more of a charity than a “con”). The crowd was small, but you have to start somewhere. (At least there were people listening!). My reading was with Larry Hinkle, whose writing was as hilarious as it was horrific, and it was a very good experience.

Paperbacks from Hell Grady Hendrix presentation

Shows, sideshows and other events:

Kev: Mike got us tickets for the Paperbacks from Hell show with Grady Hendrix and it was laugh out loud funny throughout. The comic timing, delivered alongside the brilliantly put together slideshow was fantastic.

We didn’t go to any of the other programmed shows, though we were around on Saturday night for the cross-dressing walk. This year the honour fell to Brian Keene, Wrath James White and Death. Wrath actually carried off his corset very well, while Death continued to look like Death and Brian Keene looked like a grizzled tavern wench from Robert Eggers’ film The Vvitch. I think that was the objective though and they raised a heap of cash for breast cancer support.

Mike: I had heard from George “Book Monster” Ranson that Grady Hendrix’s Paperbacks from Hell slideshow was amazing, and he was right! Not only does Grady write super popular books, but he could be a standup comedian if he wanted to. He read 326 old-school horror novels in preparation and the level of detail has to be seen to be believed.

I attended one panel on “Guerilla Marketing for Indie Authors” with Sonora Taylor, Aron Beauregard, Daniel Volpe, Carver Pike, and Kristopher Triana. I’ve been feeling lost on social media since Musk changed Twitter to X, and this panel set me straight. Get back on the horse, Mike, and learn TikTok (as long as it still exists).

Overall Impressions:

Kev: Authorcon is a great event to attend from pretty much any perspective. From the social side of meeting with other fans of the genre—both readers and writers—to the more business side of getting copies of your books both in readers’ hands but also in the countless social media posts spawned by the event.

The only advice I would give beyond everything above I that it’s mentally and physically exhausting and you will likely find yourself crashing hard after the event. I was having all these inspiring conversations at the bar when the vending hall closed each night and, subsequently, would wake up at four or five in the morning, my brain busily running over it all and not letting me get back to sleep.

Mike: Ditto on the exhaustion. Almost everyone felt this way. I saw many a social media post with happy but tired faces. If I had it to do over again (I’ll be back, who am I kidding?) I would slow my roll on Thursday night and pace myself better.

It’s not just the bar’s fault, either. The interactions, the advice, and the scheduled events keep you moving, and when they’re over, your mind is flying. It has lasted fifteen years for a reason. It works for the attendees, and it’s a great cause.

Scares That Care official website


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