I just returned from Norwescon in sunny Seattle. It was sunny while I was there. It's my second event of the year. I've got three more scheduled and I'm open to adding more. I'm addicted to attending conventions. It's hard to explain but here are some reasons why I attend cons.
Why attend a con? It costs money to get in, money for the hotel room, money for travel, money for food, lots of money. It takes time away from work and family. It can be nerve-wracking if you're an introvert or hate large crowds. The people can be very weird, especially at an SF/F convention. Those are all reasons not to go. But those same weird people are fun and very interesting to talk to. The money really isn't that much for most cons and there are ways to reduce the bill by sharing with friends. The crowds can get to be a bit much, but it's only for a few days. Norwescon had well over a thousand people attending. But even with that number, there were enough different things to do that the congestion never really got too bad. If the crowds got too thick, I found somewhere else to hang for a while. I split my room with two friends, and we stayed up way too late talking and pretending we were on an extended slumber party. Yes, even middle-age grown-ups need to get in touch with their inner child at times.
Why go? To meet up with friends you don't see very often. To make new friends, sometimes with people you would never cross paths with in your normal life. To learn new things. The panels and presentations can be very entertaining and informative. I loved the panels on art aerobics (stretching your creative muscles in new and fun ways) and early 20th century ribbon work. I talked with people about costumes, writing, space travel, horror novels, needlework techniques, therapy dogs, children, books, and lots of other things.
A convention can renew your inner fire and spark new ideas. A convention can introduce you to new areas to explore in your writing or hobbies. A convention can connect you with new friends from all over.
A convention can also help readers find you and your books. I sold a few copies of my books and handed out a lot of bookmarks, but I wasn't there to be a pain-in-the-butt marketing idiot. I was there to relax and enjoy and stretch my mind. I was there to meet new friends and connect with old ones.
I was also there to escape from my job and my kids for a weekend, but that's another story. Norwescon was a much needed vacation from my normal routine.
If you haven't ever thought about attending a con, why not do some research and see what your area has to offer? SF/F cons are loads of fun, even for those who are only casual readers or costumers.