Advice for an Anime Convention Newbie

Over Labor Day weekend, I’ll be going to my first major anime convention at Animefest in Dallas. I’m super excited because one of my favorite mangaka will be there Arina Tanemura! (Full Moon Wo Sagashite, Kaitou Jeanne). I’ve been to a smaller convention in Houston but didn’t really get the whole con experience since the convention was disorganized and I couldn’t figure out what time the forums/panels were.

However, this time around I plan to attend several forums/panels and the special guest autograph session. What kind of advice do you have for attending the forums and successfully getting an autograph? Do you wait in line like an hour in advance or can I get some kind of number? How much merchandise will a guest usually sign? I am thinking of bringing an art book and maybe some manga. I also wanted to make her a little clay figure of her characters to gift to Tanemura-San. I’m not sure if this is allowed?

Lastly, I intend to cosplay Maki from Love Live! In her Boku wa Ima outfit. Any tips for surviving a full day in cosplay? Luckily her outfit is somewhat comfortable but I will still be wearing a short wig.

Anyone else going?