Hey everyone. Just a quick post. Here’s my Starfest schedule for this year:
For those in Colorado, I’ll be attending COSine, a Colorado Springs Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention.
It’s a fun little convention, if you haven’t been before. I highly recommend it. There’s always a few excellent authors in attendance and they have a variety of great topics for their panels.
11-noon Characters in Combat (Breckenridge)
5:15 – 7pm Author Reception and Mass Signing (Ballroom)
10-11am How much does that Star Cruiser cost – fictional economics (Breckenridge)
The author reception and signing is particularly fun, so if you don’t get a chance to do much else, I recommend that especially.
Mason McGann is a smuggler, a liar, and a cheat. With his ship impounded by customs, he figures he has no choice left but to auction off information about the lost Dreyfus Fleet. But things are never what they seem when you hold information that can change the course of history.
Look to the Stars is a short story in the Shadow Space Universe
Young Midshipman Wachter is about to face the rope.
Troubled by the rumors spread throughout the Southern Fleet, the young officer turned to the Marines and Sailors under his command… yet he and they were betrayed, arrested, and convicted of mutiny, all under the orders of the ambitious Lord Admiral Hennings.
Faced with the prospect of not only his own death, but that of the men under his command, Wachter must somehow find a way to do the right thing. Yet there is little hope with he and his men jailed, weaponless, and condemned, while the town of Freeport lies under martial law and the threat of dark sorcery.
Only one course lays open to him, to break his oaths and to swear allegiance to the cause of another, to become exactly what his enemies have accused him of being: a mutineer.
Hey everyone, just a quick reminder that I’ll be at Honor Con 28-30 October, 2016. If you’re in Raleigh, NC for the weekend and are up for a Military SF Convention, come see me!
I’ll have a table for the whole weekend and you can find my events listed below. For more about the convention, check here.
3 PM: Ebooks vs Print
4 PM: Publicity for Newbies
9 AM: Building an Alternate History World
2 PM: Ow, My Spleen!
9 AM: More than Swords: Military and Fantasy
This is my initial schedule. It may change. I’ll also be at my author table when I’m not on panels/finding sustenance/trying to sleep, so feel free to find me there!
In part one I discussed a bit about attending a convention and some of the things to look for when selecting whether to attend or not. Here in Part 2, I’ll discuss how to go about attending as a panelist.
Getting into a convention as a panelist is quite a bit more difficult than merely attending. For some conventions (looking at you Dragon Con) they’re very selective and you may never hear back. For others, as long as you present yourself as a benefit to their convention, they’ll be happy to have you.
The first part of that is to be professional. For most of these conventions you can browse their websites and find out who will be running the panels or programming for the convention. That’s the person you want to contact.
When you do email them, write a professional introduction. Tell them who you are and what you write. Tell them what you’ve heard about their convention and why you want to participate. If you bring ideas to the table, that’s generally a good thing, especially if you have an idea for a panel that would be fun and won’t require any additional effort on their parts.
The second part of this is remembering that the people running conventions are volunteers and they volunteer their time and effort because they like conventions and they enjoy getting people together to enjoy their genre of fandom. If you present them with ways make a convention more enjoyable, then generally the people running the convention will be happy to have you.
The next part of that is how you behave at the convention. Remember, this is about presenting yourself in a good manner. If you’re participating in a panel, be sure to give other people time to talk. If you are moderating, try to keep the panelists roughly on track, try to have some topics of conversation prepared, and most importantly be friendly and personable to everyone you meet. Having dealt with rude panelists and audience members, it’s the quickest way to alienate a potential reader or connection.
As far as what to say, generally if you’re an author you’re passionate about things in the genre. Talk about the things you find interesting, but gauge your audience. If people are yawning, checking their watches or phones, or worst of all filing out of the room… well, that’s a bit of a sign. Try to be entertaining, intelligent, and charming. Basically you’re trying to establish yourself as someone who has something interesting to say. That way they’ll remember you and maybe look at what you have to write.
Lastly, remember that bad impressions are more likely to stay with people. The unfortunate truth is that most of the people you encounter won’t remember you at a convention, especially not the other professionals. They meet so many people at so many conventions, that everyone sort of blurs together. What they will remember, though, is if you’re the jerk who snapped at people or said derogatory things about other authors. Good behavior may not get you a book deal or gain you lots of readers, but bad behavior will gain you notoriety and not in a good way.
It is possible to have a career in writing and never attend a convention. That said, conventions provide a wealth of opportunities for an author. Conventions are gatherings of like-minded people. Genre conventions, especially science fiction and fantasy conventions, are where you’ll be able to find lots of potential readers in one spot. They’re also excellent places to network, to build relationships with other authors, to pitch ideas to editors, and in general, get your name out there.
So, what’s the key to going to a convention and being a success? Well, there’s two parts of this. Assuming you’re just getting started, I highly recommend going as an attendee just to get your feet wet. Study what other people do, learn what’s acceptable and unacceptable con behavior. This last one is a key part. Nine times out of ten, most of the professionals won’t remember your name or face from one convention. They see too many people, interact with too many people, at too many conventions. But if you’re a jerk, or annoying, they’re probably going to remember that. So, as I said, learn what’s acceptable. Don’t go charging in. Take the time to get a feel for the place.
The next part is selecting an appropriate convention. Small cons are perfect for getting your feet wet, and there’s an important part on this in that you can get some time with authors and editors without having to get pushy.
Also, know what a convention is about. Gaming and anime conventions aren’t the best place to go for trying to network as an author or to pitch your book to potential readers. Read up on what a convention is about before you go. Learn who will be there. If you don’t recognize any of the names of the guests, it probably means you don’t read their stuff and therefore what you write may not be what the readers there will be interested in.
Lastly, panels. Panels are the main content at a lot of conventions. These are discussions by the panelists… so if you aren’t one, don’t interrupt. They’ll have time at the end of the panel for questions. One of the big irritations to panelists is when someone in the audience hijacks the panel. Do some research here, too, and pick topics and panelists you want to learn more about.
Conventions are tons of fun. Take a friend, meet people, and enjoy yourself. Don’t forget to keep receipts because all of this is tax deductible as an author. Next week I’ll talk a bit about strategies on how to participate in conventions rather than attending.
I enjoy all of the Colorado SF & Fantasy conventions very much, but Myths and Legends Con is by far my favorite. I think it’s the fact that there’s no drama, everyone is there to have fun, things are extremely well organized, and it’s just all around a good time.
Jim Butcher was the guest of honor this year. I really enjoy the Dresden Files series (in many ways I think he has redefined the urban fantasy genre). It was fantastic to listen to him talk about what he has coming next and being on a panel with him was fantastic (standing room only, too, I wish they’d put us in a bigger room). I know that panel in particular was recorded, I’ll have to see if I can find the link.
In all, I was on eight panels, so it was a very busy schedule for me. The nice thing was that the venue for MALCon means there’s no fighting through long corridors to get to your panel room, everything is centrally located around the hotel lobby. So I never had any problems getting from one panel to the next, and trust me, removing that bit of stress is something that can’t be overrated.
I enjoyed every panel and even the ones without official moderators went smoothly enough, all the panelists were professional enough to talk through the subject.
MALCon is also family friendly and they had plenty of kids activities to keep children interested and having fun. I highly recommend it for just about anyone who is a fan of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Better yet, they’re hosting Westercon next year, so it should be a blast.