Back from World Fantasy Convention


Hi, all!  [Waves]

I’m back from my long weekend at World Fantasy Convention in Columbus, Ohio, and wanted to say hello, apologize for not commenting on the posts from late last week, and give a quick report on the convention before I get back to my manuscript.

For those who don’t know about World Fantasy Convention (WFC), it is the largest convention for professionals and aspiring writers in the speculative fiction universe.  It isn’t your typical fan-oriented convention.  There are no costumes, no media events or gaming rooms or movie screenings.  The dealers’ room is populated almost entirely by booksellers, and the panels tend to be almost academic in their focus.  I was on two panels this weekend, one on turning books into screenplays, the other on the continued viability of epic fantasy in today’s market — fairly typical of discussion topics, though other panels dealt with everything from critical theory to the influence of comic books on fantasy literature.  Mostly, the convention is known as a place to network, an event that draws professional writers, editors, agents, and publishers to a single venue.  Membership is usually capped at around 700 or 800, to keep the convention from becoming too crowded.  Most of the networking takes place in the hotel bar, which was packed almost constantly beginning at 4:00pm Thursday.

I had a great weekend, with the notable exception of a bit of professional bad news that I’ll share with you in a moment.  I met members several of our Magical Word community who I had previously known only as names attached to comments under our posts.  [Waves again.]  I saw a few of our regular and semi-regular guest contributors (Lucienne Diver, who is also my agent, Joshua Palmatier, Blake Charleton) and spent time with friends who I hadn’t seen in some time, many of whom I hope will post here soon.  I had productive meetings with Lucienne and my editor at Tor, and got to spend some time with a couple of other editors with whom I hope to work in the future.  I met a student I had been working with for more than a year but had never met in person, and also got to spend time with his advisor and her husband, both accomplished writers in their own right.  I saw my friends from Calgary and a couple of folks I knew from my time in Australia, and met several great people for the first time.  I even got to have lunch with a dear friend from high school and her husband.

As always, spending the weekend surrounded by professionals in my field left me feeling energized and excited about the work I’m doing, and the projects that are percolating in the back of my mind.  At the same time, it also motivated me to work harder than I have been.  There are so many talented young writers in this business, and while I don’t see them as “competition” I do know that as a middle-aged, mid-list author, I can’t afford to rest on my meager laurels.  If I want to continue to publish and thrive, I have to work even harder than I have been.  And that’s especially true because my career is about to have something of an unexpected hiatus.  (This is the small bit of bad news I mentioned earlier.)  Due to circumstances entirely beyond my control, the publication date for the first Thieftaker book has been pushed back to early 2012.  I don’t yet know whether it will be coming out in February or March or April, but it won’t be in the summer or fall of 2011, as I had originally thought.  I’m disappointed, even a bit annoyed.  I’ve been publishing for 14 years now, and I think I’ve only had two or maybe three years in that time without an original release.  It now seems that 2011 will be my fourth such year.  This is a small matter really — as I say, an annoyance more than anything else.  But I’m eager to see the book in print and I begrudge the extra wait.

I’m determined, though, to make the most of the coming year.  No, I won’t have a new book out.  But I will have the paperback release of The Dark-Eyes’ War in February or March 2011.  And I have other projects to work on.  I’ll be finishing the second Thieftaker book this month.  I’ll have revisions to do on both Thieftaker volumes in the early part of 2011.  Late in the year, I’ll begin what I hope will be a major publicity push for that first Thieftaker release.  And I plan to work on other projects during 2011.  I have an urban fantasy to rewrite and get contracted; a middle-reader book to complete and get contracted; a short story to write with my good and immensely patient friend, Stuart Jaffe;another urban fantasy (connected to the first) bouncing around in my head that I want to get written; ideas for two more Thieftaker books that I want to outline and get contracted; and a novella idea for the Thieftaker universe that I want to write and use to generate interest in the coming series.

In short, I feel that I’ve been dealt a small setback, and I want to harness my frustration and turn it into motivation for something powerful.  Motivation can come from all different places, but ultimately it derives from within.  In past years I might have allowed a little thing like the delay of a book slow me down.  Not anymore.  And I think I have all of you to thank for this.  Magical Words inspires me — my fellow writers, and also those of you who comment.  I’ve always lamented not having a writing group, but in a way this community is the next best thing for me.  I feel like I have people rooting me on, but also watching to make sure that I don’t slack off.  Butt in chair.  Do the work.

So, thanks.  I’m sorry that I didn’t get to see more of you this weekend (Ed Schubert, I’m looking at you…)  but I will see you in the coming year.  That’s another thing I have planned — conventions in North Carolina and a couple of other places.  And for those who are interested, World Fantasy Convention 2011 is in San Diego next fall.  I plan to be there.

David B. Coe

17 comments to Back from World Fantasy Convention

  • David, It sounds like you never stopped! Did you sleep at all? 🙂 I am glad you had a great time and saw so many people and made so many contacts. San Diego … Hmmm. I haven’t been there in years. I hear a road trip calling my name!

    As to the publishing hiatus. Been there, done that. It can be annoying and frustrating. (I remember sitting down and crying one time when I had one.) But you are smart to look on the positive side. By the time a hiatus is over, you can have your career in *such* a good place. The work that pours out when we can concentrate on new material instead of rewrites on the timetable of an editor are incredible. I took off a whole year once and wrote one novel and 4 or 5 partials and rewrote 2 novels. And I rested. When my hiatus was over, I was poised for a new publisher, new editor, and and a new direction. On the sales from the hiatus year, I made real money again. It was wonderful! And it will be good for you and your career too!

  • David, I’m sorry about the setback. I know these decisions are made all the time, but we sure don’t have to like them. Then again, a year will go by before we know it.

    Glad you’re home safe! I’m so jealous of all the fun people had at WFC – I’ve been reading posts from all the cool kids who attended. *grin* I really want to try and make it next year.

  • WFC was indeed fabulous. I met a lot of people, including David (who is friendly, approachable, and does a fine job on a panel). I signed books and did my first reading; not a bad first-ever con, I think.

    The book delay is very frustrating, I’m sure, but there is so much in publishing that’s completely beyond the control of the authors.

  • Faith, I did sleep a little; not nearly enough. On the other hand, I certainly had my Recommended Daily Allowance of Guinness every day… It would be great to see you at San Diego (in addition to the NC cons). I think you should plan on it. And yeah, I know tons of writers who have been through the hiatus thing — I had a similar delay between my first and second series. But I’m going to turn this to my advantage, just as you suggest.

    Misty, it would have been great to see you there. And you’re probably right — the year is going to fly. But I appreciate the kind words.

    Sarah, it was great meeting you at the convention. So glad it was a good con for you. Congrats on the first reading and the signings. Well done! And yes, there is SO much in publishing over which we writers have little or no control. Which is why our job is to write, to be productive, and to be friendly and approachable at conventions. 🙂 Those are things over which we have complete control.

  • You are showing everyone here exactly the right attitude a writer should have. Yes, we’ll get angry, pout, cry, or whatever over such setbacks, but to turn it around into an opportunity is part of the tenacity a writer must have in order to succeed. I hope you have a great, productive year! 🙂

  • Glad to have you back. The postponement is frustrating, but hopefully gives the publisher more time to build interest. You never know: it might be a good thing long term.

  • Thanks, Stuart. I was angry, and I did brood on it for a while. Didn’t sleep very well Friday night. But the choice is to brood all year or turn it into something positive. Thanks for the good wishes. And I’m looking forward to working on the story with you!

    A.J., thank you. One of the reasons for the delay (I’m told) is that Tor wants to take enough time to get the production and publicity right. They don’t want to rush any of it — since this is the first release for “D.B. Jackson” they want to get good jacket blurbs, they want to make the book look good, they want to ensure, in short, that they get ole D. B. off to a solid start. So, there could be some good that comes of it.

  • David, there is little worse than a company rushing somethign into print, without the proper marketing intro. It sounds like they want to make you much more than a midlist writer. (smiles) It sounds pretty good, in fact.

  • David,

    It was great meeting you at WFC and thank you for the time you took to speak with me during the signing! I’d also like to say I enjoyed the panel on “The continuing viability of epic fantasy” (I think that was its title at least), and you were a fantastic moderator!

    This was my first WFC and I went in with very low expectations, and tried to approach the weekend using the advice you’ve all given here on Magical Words. In fact, I went back and re-read all the posts on cons, pitches, etc the night before WFC and utilizing those tips I managed to get over an hour with an agent who wants me to send him something!

    Thank you for all the wonderful advice on writing and publishing you give to us freely every day.

  • Consider me properly chastised, David. Really disappointed things worked out the way they did, but sometimes you just have to play the cards you’re dealt — much like your situation with the Thieftaker book. At least their reasons sound solid. I’d rather see your book delayed but enjoy good marketing support, than see it rushed into bookstores only to peeter out.

  • I’d love to hit the ‘States and do the rounds of some of the big cons. One day I will…
    But speaking of hiatus (that’s the plural too): While I don’t have anything in print, my IT career had a three month break (that’s a long time in the IT industry) back in 2002 where there wasn’t much work around. I was a little bummed at first but realised it gave me the opportunity to improve my skills (mad as they were). I got three additional certifications in that time and a great reason for my time off. One of the biggest problems in IT with taking time off is you get asked in the very next interview “what did you do for the time you weren’t working?” and I was able to pull out some extra credentials which got me a better job.
    You’re extra free writing you do this coming year will just add to your arsenal. And maybe one day I’ll get State-side and catch a con. (oblique reference to thief taker)

  • Thanks, Faith. I hope you’re right.

    Alistair, it was great meeting you, too. I enjoyed our conversation and look forward to seeing you again at future conventions. And I’m very glad to know that the advice we offered you here proved helpful during the weekend.

    Ed, I was kidding, of course. But it would have been great to see you. And as I said to Faith, I am hopeful that Tor will throw their considerable weight squarely behind the release when the time comes.

    Thanks for sharing your experience, Scion, and also for that terrible pun at the end. 😉 Hope to see you at a con sometime soon.

  • David,

    Sorry to hear about the delay. But I agree with your plan – take the time to work on other projects. Maybe it could translate into a very producive year in the future.

    The World Fantasy Convention sounds like something I want to go to. Darn, it’s the weekend after SiWC next year (to which I am definitely going, because I won the grand door prize of SiWC 2011 for free). Maybe in 2012 …

  • Thanks, Moira. Sorry you won’t be able to make WFC next year. But congrats on winning the free SiWC membership. That sounds fantastic!

  • Young_Writer

    I wish you luck– before you know it your book will be out and selling like hot cakes. I’m glad to hear you had a fun (and crazily productive) time. One quick question, are children allowed at cons? Thank you!

  • Alexa, there are usually a few writers who bring kids with them, if that’s what you’re asking. If you’re referring to yourself, you’re an aspiring writer, obviously mature — I think you’d be welcome at any of the panels or readings and could easily set up meetings with people who you wanted to speak to. You’d probably need to steer clear of the bar and any room parties where alcohol was being served.

  • Young_Writer

    Thank you! And my mother would kill me if she even thought I went into a bar… 🙂