More on Cons


To build on Misty’s post yesterday (and maybe steal some more of Stuart’s thunder {grinning evilly}) I’d like to share my view on what a Con offers attendees—other than just pure fun. There is always that. In fact, as you read, add the world fun to the top of each list. But a con offers a lot more than just weird costumes, a good game or two, interesting, informative, entertaining panels, books and cool stuff galore to buy, and desperate writers staring into the face and nametag of everyone they meet, pitching books like craps players escaped from gambler’s anonymous. A lot more. Though one may have to dig beneath the surface a bit. Q&A in no particular order:

What should a writer (who is hoping to get published some day) get out of a con?

  1. Dinner or lunch at the same table with a writer or editor or agent, to pick his brain and maybe make a pitch.
  2. One good piece of advice to make the career better. Or, more likely. Seriously, if you get one good nugget of info, it is worth the price of the con.
  3. Network with other writers, both published and unpubd.
  4. Advice on scams and cheats and info on how to avoid them.
  5. Advice on how to make a pitch. Yes, there is a right way and wrong way.
  6. A new beta reader or three.
  7. A new beta reader who is published and who writes in your genre. If you are lucky you will actually find a writer who is willing to read a few pages of your work. (Note: if a writer offers to read a few pages, they are talking a max of five, more likely three, not the 150 you are hoping. Unless they contact you and ask for more and gush all over you and offer to introduce you to their agent. It happens, but not often.)
  8. A group of like-minded writers to critique with.

What should a writer (who is already published) get out of a con?

  1. Info on publishing opportunities.
  2. Share advice on dealing with a difficult agent/editor/publisher. Yes, they can be difficult. They are human too. Really! They are!
  3. Info on what is happening in the publishing world.
  4. Network with other writers, both published and unpubd.
  5. Social time with writers. Yeah, it’s important to make friends with other writers, and to think of them as more than a kind of creative coworker/competitor.
  6. A chance to visit with fans. This is so vital. I live inside my own head so much that just a chance to sit down and share lunch/tea/drink with another human being who lives a similar life/job/occupation and works in the same industry/mad house is a joy. Internet and email make it easier to connect on a daily basis, but that eye contact thing is important.
  7. Meet new friends. Misty and I met David at a con. Out of that encounter this website was born. And maybe other new stuff is coming via that original convention, now that we have Stuart and AJ and all the others. We have ideas!
  8. Discussion of how to improve sales. As writers we must make good sales figures or perish (to steal from the academia saying: publish or perish.) I’ve had so many different manifestations of a writing career that I get lost in it! So coming up with low cost (or free!) ways to improve book sales is urgent. Sitting in bookstores and hoping to meet fans is not a good use of our time, though it can be a lot of fun. Internet is a better time management tool, but not usually enough. So we pitch ideas and often formulate plans.
  9. Ideas of interesting jewelry designs. No. Wait. That’s just for me. J

What should a reader and fan get out of a con?

  1. Meeting a writer whose work you adore.
  2. Maybe having lunch or meeting in the bar late at night with him. Or her.
  3. Getting to hear writers read their work aloud.
  4. Learning what a writer’s life is like.
  5. Finding out the skinny on writers’ upcoming works. Maybe getting to hear a bit!
  6. Fun fun fun.
  7. Maybe some heartburn or a small hangover. It happens.
  8. A chance to GET AWAY from real life! A literary vacation!

I just threw these together as I prepared for ConCarolinas. What do you guys want from a con? What do you want from us here at MW? Meeting your needs is important to us. What can we offer you? And hey! Got any ideas for low cost or free ways we can advertise our books? We are always open to new marketing  ideas and ways to meet new fans.



17 comments to More on Cons

  • Okay, Faith, admit it — you and Misty are conspiring to ruin my post this week! 😉 Actually, this was great and didn’t take much away from mine since my post will focus purely on one aspect from your entire list. Looking forward to seeing you on Saturday. Take care.

  • Yes, Stuart, Misty and I have been emailing back and forth giggling and plotting. 🙂

    CC is going to be a blast!

  • Let me offer a somewhat defensive and self-serving comment in response to item 7 of Faith’s first list, the one for unpublished writers: Not all writers take the same approach for requests to read a few pages or chapters of someone’s manuscript. I have never encountered any writer who is more generous with her time than Faith. She mentors a writer or two just about every year, reading their material and commenting on it. I admire her willingness to do this, but I would never seek to emulate her. I am pretty much at the opposite end of the spectrum. I am very, very stingy with my time. I feel that I have to be. I get lots of requests from people wanting me to read their books and stories. I always refuse. It’s a policy. Between work and family, I barely have enough time on any given day. Add in reading other people’s work and I’d be swamped. There are lots of writers like me. There are far fewer like Faith. And there are a whole host who fall somewhere in between us. It’s not necessarily that Faith is nicer and more generous than I am (although actually, she is). We all have to do what’s best for us professional and personally. So feel free to make your requests of the writers you meet and admire. But please, be respectful of whatever answer you receive. Don’t judge us too harshly if we offer a polite, “Sorry, I can’t.” And don’t burn any bridges by responding to a refusal in anger.

  • Good point, David. (Not the *Faith is nice* point, though you are kind to think so.)

    If a published writer offers to read a page (or even your first paragraph) that is offering a lot. If they say no, don’t get ticked off. Smile and say thanks.

    Few writers I know work with other writers for free. I happen to enjoy editing, teaching, and helping people to improve their writing skills, which is why I love MW so much. But working with writers — and even being here at MW — does cut into my life and take time that might be better spent writing and marketing my own books.

  • Faith said, And maybe other new stuff is coming via that original convention, now that we have Stuart and AJ and all the others. We have ideas!

    Oh lord, do we have ideas. If y’all could only sit in on some of the discussions we get into…

  • I would think, if you were writing a novel or had written one and wanted someone to look at it, you could understand just how long it takes authors to write and not get angry if they decline, especially with outside life. In the time it took you to write that one, some established authors might have been writing two or sometimes three. The reality of the situation though is that some people don’t get that authors may not have the time to look at their work and somehow feel slighted that an author declined to look at their writing.

    I think that if I was published I’d fall somewhere in the middle because, a)I have a hard time saying no (the sad truth of my lack of time), and b)because I know what it takes for some people to even come up and ask that question. I’ve always been the nervous/shy guy that hangs back and I have to really force myself to go up and talk to someone (loads easier on the ol’ interwebs). I know how hard it is and I know the signs. I’ve recognized the signs in myself and it actually irritates me when I exhibit them. I’m nearly 40, I don’t have time for nervous stomach, stuttering, and lack of eye contact when meeting new people, but I still do it. It’s those people who I’d be more likely to help out, because I know how hard it was for them to come up and ask the question in the first place. Funny thing, I think the louder or more obnoxious a person is, the less likely I’d be to have time.

    I have considered the possibility of asking (politely, of course) for some minor assistance from the folks on here after finishing my rewrites to my satisfaction (and I’m my own worst critic), but I’m also the type that wants to do things himself if at all possible. I think I’m closest to David on here as far as style and views, but I was nervy enough sending Faith that pitch piece a while back.

    I’ve considered asking for agent assistance if nothing else. Not necessarily a hand held introduction, just a finger point in the right direction. But even if that wasn’t a possibility, the time you’ve all put into this site is invaluable and I think we all appreciate it greatly.

  • Oh, and since you asked, I was thinking a forum would be nice on here. A place to post questions and such, pass back and forth suggestions and generally gab with the posters. I always feel odd hijacking a blog post when I have a question that doesn’t necessarily pertain to the actual discussion.

    No ideas yet on free ways to advertise, but I’ll keep thinking on it. 😉

  • Beatriz

    As a fangirl, I want:

    the chance to giggle and snark with friends. Quietly. Discreetly. Yeah. Right. Like *that* will happen.

    to find new authors to love because I heard them read their works or because I was so charmed/amused by what they said on a panel

    to enjoy the wit of others

    to be smart enough to wander away from my fave auhors when he/she is giving advice to a newbie. I won’t benefit from it so there’s no point in hanging around. There’s a whole con out there! Shopping! Klingons! Cute guys in kilts!

    Advertising ids: Magical Words kilts. Seriously. David, Stuart and AJ in kilts with MW on them. A goldmine!

    Tee shirts for the adoring fans to purchase.

  • As a member of List 1, what I’ve found that I can definitely expect from a con is a renewal of my creative energies: that positive surge that can come from being in a crowd of like-minded individuals.

    I agree with Daniel about adding a forum. If fostering a community here is one of your goals, a forum would encourage further connection between us followers, rather than the haphazard connections made during the commments in each post. One suggestion: a Silly / Off-Topic section. There are various ways to go about the forum … I could go on about this for ages, because I’ve set up a few in my lifetime, but it would be pointless unless you decide to go that route.

    One effective and inexpensive advertising method I’d recommend is Project Wonderful. Find websites that participate, and then bid on advertising. There are a *lot* of websites out there (I’m thinking strongly of the webcomics multiverse here) that offer advertising for pennies a day … and these are sites with followers in the thousands at least. There is quite an overlap between webcomic readers and SF/F readers, so if, for example, you go for webcomics, you’d be targeting your audience. I have a list of SF/F webcomic sites that come to mind … but again, I’ll spare you for now. 🙂

  • Misty I more new ideas… So many ideas. So little time/energy.

    Daniel, I think the forum would be a great idea.I’ll add that to the list of things to gab about at CC. I’d also like to get an additional agent or two to favor the site and maybe have a pitch day. Another thing to discuss with the MW folk at CC.

  • B.Melissa, I’m not very witty, but I love to snark… can I join in?

    Moira, I’d love to get a list of sites for inexpeisive advertizing. I did a week’s worth on Facebook with the release of BloodCross, and I found it effective. So if you’d send it to me offlist I’d be greatful!

  • Dino

    I second the tee shirt idea.

  • I’d love a forum here. There are lots of people around here that I think are fascinating (aside from the MW authors, who are obviously fascinating) and whose work I’d like to read and who I’d like to have read my work. A forum might be a way to get beta readers, too. 🙂

  • Dino, I wanted to have the tees ready for ConCarolinas, but it will be next month.

    Pea, I agree that a forum might be a way to accomplish several ends!

  • Sarah

    Can I just add a belated “THANK YOU” for Misty’s last point? I’m an asthmatic who’s allergic to a lot of perfumes and the close quarters of a panel audience, a crowded hallway, or a hotel elevator can be suffocating for me. And even if I don’t have an asthma attack, I don’t really want to taste my neighbor’s perfume on the air. A long time ago my grandmother gave me an etiquette book that had a beautiful rule, supposedly from the French. It was that you should wear just enough perfume that strangers should wonder if you are perfumed or just a mysteriously alluring person, your dear friends should know the answer, and only your lover should be able to name the brand. It has served me well.

  • wayne

    I know Fantasy Literature Reviews put products on Cafe Press. t-shirts and mugs… I would get a MW shirt

    See everyone this weekend.


  • Since it was asked here I’ll place another possible MW suggestion here. Maybe a way to edit our own posts, if it’s possible? Always hate hitting submit and then thinking of something else I forgot to add and making a second comment. 🙂