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Why I go to cons

July 10, 2016

Hello friends, readers, fans, and people who accidentally wound up here looking for something else. I’m at LibertyCon this weekend so I thought I should blog about it. (This is where I don’t mention that I don’t blog enough.) Rather than focus on this one con, though, I thought I’d  discuss cons in general. 

I don’t go to a while lot of science fiction cons. I don’t travel far to attend them. It’s not that I don’t want to, goodness knows I do, but there are only so many things I get out of a con. Here’s my top five reasons I go to my local cons.

5) Selling books. Ooh, do I like selling books! And going to a con usually affords me the opportunity to do that…two or the times over the weekend. I think my peak is five. I’m not a known author, I only have one product to push, and short story collections aren’t exactly the top seller these days. So the book sales aren’t exactly passing my way, but they feel good. Notice that this takes the bottom slot (top of the page, bottom ranking, for those directionally strict) because it’s more a perk than a reason. In fact, I didn’t even bring books with me this time, so sales are tough to pul off.

4) Networking.I’m a terrible networker. Terrible. Mostly because I’m ever so slightly socially awkward. (Never thought you’d find a socially awkward person at a science fiction convention, did you?) I pretty much need to be planted next to someone to accomplish anything. Cons often plant me in the right place when I need to be there. I’ve gotten at least one story sold this way and made some very good friends the same way. 

3) Feeling knowledgeable. I’ve been doing this worrying thing for a while now. I’m pretty decent at it. The things I’m not decent at, I know about and know I need to improve (most notable: keyboard time). But it’s easy to forget that I know stuff when I’m not using the stuff I know. It’s good to be on a panel and be able to talk about writing or space travel or zombies or comedy and contribute to a discussion, and have people react to what I day as if it had value (whether they actually think it does or not, I appreciate the illusion). It also feels good to listen to other people on panels and think “yup, I knew that” or “they should mention this” or even “what are they talking about?” I admit, that’s more the reason I attend panels these days than any hope of picking up something new. That doesn’t mean I don’t learn new stuff, it just means I don’t expect it. That knowledgeable feeling is what I like. (Maybe too much honesty there?)

2) My people. Being in a small southern town made finding my people (geeks and nerds) a daunting challenge. I’m finding it no easier now that I’m in a big southern city. I know they’re out there, but how so I find them? Go to where they congregate, of course. This isn’t even about making friends, it’s about feeling comfortable in my skin in a large group (see socially awkward above). The conversations I overhear make sense to me as worth discussing. Even if a debate over whether zombies or vampires are more terrifying isn’t any more productive than whether soccer is better than, football or Trump is better than a mannequin wearing a badger, at least I get desire to explore the z/v contest. One con I went to had a room full (very full) of people singing along with a showing of Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog. If that’s not finding muy people, what is?

1) Inspiration. It can be hard to write when so many things in life are demanding your attention. Kid, girlfriend, selling a house, buying a house, day job, dog…that’s just a few of the top of my recent list. Sometimes it takes a fire under my butt to get my fingers burning across a keyboard. People at cons have that kind of fire. Sometimes it’s “wow, I want to have a book launch party like that guy”, or its “I want to talk about a project with passion like she does”, but just as often it’s “if this idiot can get a book out, why can’t I?” I’m not proud of that last one, but inspired is inspired. I’m still at LibertyCon and I just pumped out 2000 words on my middle grade novel that has been nothing but stalling for the past month. If it weren’t for the refueling I get from a con, I’m not sure there would be a writer in me anymore. 

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