Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Worldcon Lessons

Friday and Saturday nights, I dreamed I was back at Worldcon. The dreams were very vivid and felt like they took up the whole night. I would wake from one and drift into another. Like the bathroom breaks between the convention panels.

So in my dream, I'm schmoozing a lot of editors when I realize that none of the ones I'm kibitzing with, are ones that are relevant to my writing. For instance, the guy I was chatting with Friday night, was a school book editor and he was asking me where my desire to write textbooks came from. Naturally I made something up. I didn't want to offend the guy since he was being so nice to me. Maybe I'm just afraid my writing is that bad and I'm doomed to write non-stop boredom.

(Remember, none of this really happened.)

Anyway, I realize the real reason for all this insanity is that I was thinking about Worldcon at work on Friday because a good friend wants to hit Worldcon in Chicago next year. But, to be honest, I wasn't that impressed with this one. I felt some of the panels were weak to say the least, even though it was fun watching authors, editors, and agents chat about various topics. And while it was interesting seeing the costumes and quirkiness of fandom, I was there to work.

I assessed everything my writing group and I did during the whole convention and was wondering what we could have done more. This made me remember what Dave Wolverton/Farland said at our Writer's Death Camp. He told us, that when we go to these conventions, we should go sit in the hotel's bar and stay there. When the agents/editors come in to relax a bit, we strike up a conversation and talk about their work and the industry with them. Find out what they like and what they're looking for. Then if the opportunity presents itself, we pitch our book.

The convention itself hosts two types of great networking opportunities: the Kaffeeklatch and the Literary Beer. Both were held in noisy halls, where it was sometimes hard to hear. But at least, with six other people, you got a chance at some face time.

As I thought about the convention on the whole though, I wondered if we should have skipped some of the panels and been offering to take editors out to lunch or dinner. Chat over a soda and such. Or at least looked for extra opportunities to have conversations with them. My writing group doesn't come off as rabid dogs and I think we might have garnered extra time with the editors of our choice. But we're so new to 'cons,' that we didn't think outside the box. Looking at Shaun Ferrall's photos on the Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing site, that guy was everywhere. His superior ninja networking skills totally put us to shame. And he was only there for one day! He obviously knows how to optimize his time and made great contacts.

There were also three floors of parties going on at the Atlantis, and we only went to the floor with the Tor party. Granted, the Tor party is the one everyone must attend, but what did we miss on the other two floors? Would we have ran into Lee Harris (editor for Angry Robot) and had a nice chat? The world will never know... (Besides, we saw him pressed in the throng at the Tor party, but were too scared to strike up a conversation.)

Maybe Worldcon isn't about the workshop and is actually all about the networking. That's what I think Dave Wolverton was talking about when he mentioned sitting at the bar. Sure there's lots of interesting things to see, but you're there to meet people. To talk with the people in your 'field' and make friendships with them so that you have the connections to get your work looked at.

What it really boils down to, is that with one Worldcon under my belt, I'm not as intimidated by approaching the people I want to talk to. They're genuinely nice people looking for writers with great stories and personalities they can work with.

Will I go to another Worldcon? Maybe. There are a lot of cons around and some are more focused than others. It wouldn't hurt to explore my world. One thing is certain though: there will always be someone there to talk to about the industry and writing.


  1. We offered to take Moshe Feder to dinner, but it fell through--we also wanted to take out Brandon Sanderson, but couldn't get a hold of him pre-Con to set anything up, so bummer on that. :/

    I likely won't go to any more WorldCons until I a) get rich, or b) get published. XD But let me know if you go to the one in Chicago!

  2. Ha! I understand both of those reasons. We actually made a pact that we wouldn't go again until one of us was nominated for a Hugo. :)


Popular Posts