These events are wonderful for authors to gain insight to their craft, meet cohorts in the writing journey, and meet fans (or future fans ;)).
Just doing a Google search will bring up tons of these events and which one you go to depends on many variables--so you all go check them out on your own ;).
But here are some ideas for what to look for when picking one out:
Distance: how far are you willing to go? Does the city have other things you'd like to tag on as a vacation? Is it easy to get into? (I had a 45 minute cab ride to and from the airport for an event earlier this year--NOT fun, nor cheap). Look for travel deals for Las Vegas, or whatever city you're going to. Most cities will have many sites and options.
What is the make up?: If you're a writer, are you looking to mingle with readers? Want some craft and business workshops? Network with the high and mighty in the publishing world? If you're going as a reader--do they have parties with lots of authors? Panels discussing aspect of books you love? Plenty of wonderful authors to mingle with?
Cost: This is where it gets messy kids. Most of these events aren't cheap. But they have some amazing experiences for attendees, so plan for the cost. Share rooms, drive it you can, whatever.
How to prepare once you've picked one:
Plan to wear comfortable shoes! You might think you'll be inside all day--which could be true, but might not be the case. Even if you are inside, some hotels are HUGE! I've done two events at the Rio in Las Vegas--mega walking and you never go outside!
Pack pens, notebooks, your cards. Writers- you need to be ready to hand out cards, bookmarks, whatever from the time you get there. Even readers--if you have personal cards and want to give your favorite writer something, drop your card in with what you're bringing. Plus, some events do giveaways, so little things with your name and email are dang handy.
Plan who you'll see: If you've got some favorite authors attending, bring things for them to sign (and buy a book or two ;)). Read everything in ebook? No worries- make a scrap book of print outs of the authors' covers you want to see. Have them sign their page. You end up with an awesome keepsake.
Be social! Okay, this one can be hard for everyone. But writers can be very reclusive. So, if you're an author, practice smiling at folks. Nothing more--just smile. And readers, if your favorite author is looking lost--share a smile with them--they are more scared of you than you are of them!
There's an event coming up in Las Vegas, Love N. Vegas (no, I'm not going to be there- but a heck of a lot of authors are!) and the fine folks at www.vegas.com would love to help you get ready to go.