Saturday, November 7, 2009

Six Reasons to Attend the World Fantasy Convention

Writing conventions are expensive. You have to pay the convention fee plus buy meals and pay for a room in a fancier hotel than you would usually stay in. You may also lose income for the days you take off work.

I have attended the Romance Writers of America’s yearly conference several times and think it well worth the price. This past weekend, I attended the World Fantasy Con (WFC) for the first time—the theme was Edgar Allen Poe; hence the con's raven logo at right—and found that con just as valuable. If you are a fantasy writer or fantasy fan, here are some reasons you should attend the 2010 WFC in Columbus, Ohio.

1. Books, books, books. I brought home almost my weight in books, and almost all of those books were free, with a total value far higher than my conference fee cost. Generous publishers supplied enough giveaways for each WFC attendee to receive a large bag stuffed full of books.

2. More books, books, books. When you visit a traditional bookstore, your selection consists primarily of books from major publishers. You miss out on the innovative, off-beat, and just plain weird offerings of small publishers who sell primarily through the Internet. SFC provides several types of opportunities to learn about such books, and the dealers’ room offers the chance to look them over and purchase them.

3. Stargazing. If you swoon at the sight of your favorite authors, take smelling salts to WFC. Fantasy authors are in abundance, and some are happy to meet fans or beginning writers.

4. Autographs. The long evening autograph session gives you plenty of time to get all the books you brought with you or bought at WFC signed. Also, the program contains pages for collecting autographs from authors whose books you don’t have with you.

5. Networking. One of the best things a writer can do for her career is to meet other writers. Writers of all levels come to WFC, as do some artists and publishers. I am not the master networker some of my friends are. Even so, I met some writers to interview on my blog For Love of Words as well as a blogger who will interview me in 2010, an artist I’d love to have illustrate my next book, several famous people, a few magazine editors, and some talented writers.

6. Promotion. In addition to meeting people informally, I sat on a panel at WFC and signed my new book Like Mayflies in a Stream at the booksigning. I sold several books and passed out a hundred or more bookmarks (not bad at a conference limited to 1,000 attendees). What a great way to get my face, name, and book better known.

Hope to see you at WFC next year in Columbus!

Thanks for dropping by today. I’ll be blogging again at Novel Spaces on November 22, when I talk about reasons for writers to be thankful.

—Shauna Roberts


Liane Spicer said...

I'd like to attend a conference some day, just for the fun of it. The books etc. will all be gravy!

[I have to say I love the theme of the WFC con, even though I don't write SFF.]

Shauna Roberts said...

Liane, yeah, Edgar Allen Poe is a cool theme. Next year's WFC theme is sillier: whimsy.

The Romance Writers of America are meeting in Nashville next July. Have you thought about going and meeting others who write similar books?

Liane Spicer said...

I'm considering it, as well as the Romance Slam Jam that a Barbadian author acquaintance invited me to. It'll all depend on the state of my pocket. O_O

Angie said...

I'd love to go -- maybe next year or the year after.

Getting speakers to prepare ahead of time at fan-run conventions is like pulling teeth with a tweezer. There's such an entrenched tradition against it, people just won't budge no matter how you hint or nag or try to require them to work things out in advance. I know other people have tried to make it work, and I tried the one year I ran programming at BayCon. I also scheduled some solo panels, figuring one person up there alone would be more likely to actually plan out what they were going to say, and speak on a coherent topic, more like speakers at a professional conference, who have to actually submit a written proposal, even if it's minimal, to show that they've given their topic some thought. No dice. (Maybe we should've requested written proposals? [wry smile] Nah, that wouldn't have worked either.) It's like people have gotten so used to winging it that that's all 90% of them are going to do, no matter what.

I know what you mean, though. It's kind of annoying, especially when you've chosen between three interesting sounding panels out of the six or seven running at the same time, only to have all the panelists look at each other and go, "Anyone know what we're supposed to talk about?" I've seen some really cool panels come of that sort of chaotic spontaneity, but some disorganized snoozers, too.

It sounds like you had a lot of fun, though. :) I'll definitely have to try to make a WFC one of these years.


Charles Gramlich said...

I remember the one I attended and how exciting it was to meet the likes of Roger Zelazny, Clive Barker, and many many others.