by Lillian Csernica on October 22, 2013
Let’s talk about conventions. Networking online is very important in the Digital Age, but there’s still nothing better for cementing relationships (business or personal) than just hanging out together shooting the breeze. My sister-in-law gave me a t-shirt that reads “I’m raising a child with Autism. What’s your superpower?” I wore this t-shirt on Saturday with the specific intention of letting other people know that autism is part of my life and I’m willing to talk about it. Among folks in sf/f fandom there are people on the spectrum, Aspies in particular. Sure enough, I got into at least three different conversations with people. The great thing about wearing the t-shirt was the way it helped us all hop over all the complicated social interaction involved in meeting people for the first time. Granted, cons tend to encourage a less formal atmosphere, but it’s still not easy to start talking about being on the spectrum or having children who are on there somewhere.
Please go visit Lesson Plan For Life: How a Man on the Spectrum Learns to Live. The young man who writes this blog is lively and dynamic and determined.
The business aspect of conventions is important too. Shameless self-promotion is even more important today than it was when I started going to cons back in ’93. There’s so much competition, there are so many blogs and websites and e-zines. You have got to get yourself out there, shake some hands, pass out bookmarks or magnets or whatever freebies work for you, and establish yourself as a person behind your name, behind your “brand.” I was happy to have copies of Mystic Signals and Midnight Movie Creature Feature 2 with me. Nothing proves you’re a pro like having publications in front of you. Here’s a tip: if your work appears in electronic format, get a good cover image, make a color copy, and laminate it. Now you have something you can carry around to con after con. It’s even more valuable if your name appears on the cover!
Meeting other writers at cons can begin the daisy chain that leads you to an opportunity, be it a market or an editor or an agent. The wider your network of contacts, the likelier you are to hear about such an opportunity in time to act on it. I really hate hearing about a great anthology only to find out the window of opportunity will close before I can get a story ready for submission. The more people who know you personally and whom you know, the stronger the connection and the likelier you are to think of each other when these opportunities arise.
Let’s not overlook the Fun Factor. Writing is a hard, lonely, often frustrating business. Nobody understands writers like other writers. Howard Tayler, creator of Schlock Mercenary, was the Artist GoH. My husband is a long-time reader, so I seized the opportunity to get Chris a sketch card and one of the Tagon’s Toughs coins. On Sunday afternoon as Conjecture/ConChord was winding down, I found myself on the patio outside the Con suite, eating too much Halloween candy and chatting away with some new friends I’d made. Who should come out and join the group but Larry Niven himself? Yow! We had some fun talking about the time I met Dr. Jerry Pournelle. Earlier in the day My partner in crime Pat MacEwen and I crossed paths with GoH Esther Friesner in the Dealers’ Room. Esther and I share an interest in Japan, so she was telling me about her adventures in Tokyo. If it sounds like I’m name dropping, I am and I’m not. Conventions create the circumstances that allow you to hang out with your idols, whether or not you’re also a professional writer. If that isn’t Fun, I don’t know what is.
So here I am, home again. I’m fired up to finish the edit on the Japanese novel, to keep converting my published work to electronic formats, and to write new material Pat and I thought up during the ten hour drive down to San Diego and the ten hour drive home again. The adventure continues!