Monday, April 14, 2008

Writers and Conventions

I'm running a fever and not precisely thinking clearly. Since it's convention season, I thought I'd post Carol Berg's view of last year's World Fantasy Convention and what writers can get out of such conventions. On March 16, 2007 on DeepGenre, she wrote:

World Fantasy is a very interesting con - different from any other that I’ve attended. There’s an art show, a dealers’ room, and panel discussions, but you won’t find costumes, masquerades, RPGs, anime, fan parties, or excessive media-related programming. It is primarily a networking weekend for the literary branch of the fantasy community. As such there are LOTS of authors, editors, agents…and aspiring writers. The programming is fairly minimal. One track of panels and one or two tracks of readings. (The best reading tracks of any con, IMHO.) Though panels are few, it is possible to attend one with, say, Connie Willis, Stephen Donaldson, and Gene Wolfe talking about how they develop characters. (One of the best I’ve seen.) And there is always a mass signing where you can walk up and visit with a huge number of friendly, accessible published authors...

As for selling a book… The key to this con is your comfort in networking. You have to walk up to people after a panel or catch them on the elevator and ask to bend their ears or buy them a drink, because most people are going to end up sitting around talking to each other or going out to dinner. This is not a “writers’ conference,” where editors and agents are sitting in a room awaiting your ten-minute pitch or trolling the bar looking for new books to publish, nor is it a “writers’ workshop,” where famous authors are going to read and critique your twenty pages, nor is it a “regional sf con” with lots of panels like “how I got published” or “what my agency is looking to represent.” There are publisher parties, but you have to hunt around for indications of where they are and whether or not they are closed. That is, WFC is not necessarily where you would SELL a book, but a place you would come to meet people in the business and LEARN. People come to WFC because they truly love the genre and the other people who make it come alive. I think it’s a great place for would-be writers, but you have to be willing to work at it.

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