Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Conning

If you haven't already read it, John Rickards has an excellent post up about conventions, why writers go to them, what's the use, etc. that looks at the sales downside, the social upside, and the fun factor.

I know fear of crowds prevent some writers from attending cons. Anxious folks might try HypnosisDownloads.com's Overcoming Agoraphobia $9.95 hypnosis download. I don't see any downloads for conquering fear of over-perfumed ill-mannered women and balding married men reviewers on the make, but let me know if you find some. There's one for overcoming fear of unfamiliar surroundings that might also help. Is there anything stranger than a con? I mean, besides two cons?

I've been able to successfully dodge these things for years, but I may go to one in the not-too-distant future to see a dear friend. No, I'm not telling you which friend or what con. I'm actually hoping to make it a drive-by support thing -- get in, grab my friend and run out so fast the lobby revolving door blows off its axis. From there we can go have a nice quiet dinner and catch up. Then I can hit the local CDC, have the friend thoroughly decontaminated, draw bloodwork, etc.

I don't have to return the friend, now that I think about it. It's not kidnapping if you accidentally on purpose get lost driving back, right?

If I have to go in and register and stay as moral support . . . Lord, pal, I must really love you to even type those words. All right, I might still get away with it. No one should recognize me except the friend. I could register under one of my ten thousand pseudonyms; no one can keep track of all of them, not even me. First thing I throw away at a con is that dumbass name tag anyway.

Or I could pose as someone everyone would want to avoid. Like an IRS auditor. No, everyone will want to report whoever beat them out after the awards ceremony. Maybe an unpublished writer wearing her heroine's costumes and carrying around a 6-1/2 lb. copy of The Book of Her Heart printed in italic font on pastel pink paper because you know editors really don't like Courier on White but they never tell you that because it's an inside thing. All I'd have to do is make up a pseudonym that sounds like the brand name of an overnight feminine hygiene product. There's always so many of those gals, I could blend in easily -- but then again, period clothing makes me itch.

Who else do people want to avoid? Hmmmm. Is Margaret Atwood real tall or especially skinny?

12 comments:

  1. I wonder if the cons are necessary. It would be tough for me to get away from work.

    I'm hoping that I will be able to do all the requisite networking through the blogosphere, but so far, I'm mostly hanging out with romance authors. Which is a heck of a lot of fun, but may not do loads for my SF future ;o)

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  2. If it's the friend I'm thinking of, you can have him/her give you directions, and you'll get the scenic route--which is great when it's part of the plan. AND it protects you from the kidnapping charge...

    As for the pseudonym...hmmm....Constance Bastion, maybe?

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  3. John's right.

    Unless a money fairy dumps a huge load on my front deck, I'm skipping World Fantasy this year. Travel and hotel alone run about $800. Add in the $100 admission (that I've already paid - anyone wanna buy a World Fantasy badge?), food, books, other misc crapola... That's between $1,000 and $1,200 bucks to be on one panel, sign 10 books, drink warm cans of pop, and have lunch with my editor.

    Don't get me wrong, I have a lot of fun at WF and I love hanging with my editor and other writer buds, but this year the fun isn't worth the financial hit.

    Conventions are a blast and I know you can afford to have a good time. Give your friend a hug, get lost sightseeing, and sneak-sign a book or two at the dealer's tables.

    Oh, I think you should sign in as Manoli Blahnik, just for giggles.

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  4. I suggest registering as Pablo Escobar, debonair Columbian playboy. Then when people say to you "But you're a woman" you can simply tap the side of your nose conspiratorially and in your best Latin accent say, "Or am I...?"

    This might also help with the problems fending off lecherous male reviewers.

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  5. Here I am being Mary Mary quite contrary again. I enjoy the conventions that I attend. I have a blast at RT, although after the third night of dancing, I hobbled to the ice machine with a plastic bag to make an ice pack for my arthritic knees.

    From a business side, I networked like crazy with booksellers and readers, attended some excellent workshops and panels, met with my publishing house and sold almost 40 books at the booksigning.

    Perhaps I have no shame. I did, after all, appear in costume as a winged monkey for Heather Graham's Vampires in the Land of Oz performance.

    My favorite costume was my sweatshirt, jeans, sneakers and headset ensemble for the "Fantasy" party. I went as the anti-fantasy, a phone sex operator.

    That said, I don't think conventions are necessary and, if you don't have the desire or budget to attend, you aren't tanking your career by staying home. There are other ways to network. *g*

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  6. A writer friend of some note had a problem with a stalker. He seemed harmless enough, but on a private blog, asked us to not say anything one way or the other about her "engagement" to her boyfriend (also a writer of note). A couple of us, two or three guys who are actually bigger than me, drove four hours to the signing where my friend's secret admirer said he'd show. He wasn't so forward as she announced her "engagement" with two of her biggest (literally) fans at her side.

    So find two big males you're reasonably friendly with and just make sure one of them says, "So, Lynn, how is your husband these days" while the other glares at the lecherous reviewer on the make.

    Can't help you with the obnoxious perfumed women. I still need to get even with Lee Goldberg for adandoning me to the one who cornered me to talk about fanfic for twenty minutes. ("Oops, sorry. Gotta run. Ken Bruen's buying the next round." That has the elegance of being a self-fulfilling prophecy.)

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  7. P.S.
    Doug Hoffman, I just visited your site and blog. You're hysterical!

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  8. I enjoy attending conferences. For two-four days I leave behind my 'day jobs' and I'm a writer period. I attend workshops hoping to learn something. Sometimes I do, sometimes I'm reminded of something I forgot. It's all good. But mostly I enjoy hooking up with writer friends and/or readers and talking about books we're writing, books we're reading... books, books, books. I know I can do this on-line, and I do, but it's not the same as that in-person connection. Conferences charge my creative battery. :)

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  9. Er, do you feel the same way about SF cons AND romance cons? the romance cons I can see hating - the world of romance writing sounds cliquish and scary and cutthroat. But isn't the SF community pretty warm and fuzzy? I mostly know it through help-other-writer sites like forward motion, or Neil Gaiman's blog, so perhaps my view is skewed...

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  10. nah, Jess, the world of romance writers is welcoming and friendly to strangers, even oddball ones. Maybe it's all a front, but I'm convinced enough to have fun.

    Mary Stella and Beth Ciotta *MUST* continue going to cons.

    How much more fun can a sober person have than creating five-minute purple prose? And wearing fanged vampire deely-bobbers provided by Kathy Love? I mean what more could you ask for from life?

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  11. Jess asked:
    Er, do you feel the same way about SF cons AND romance cons? the romance cons I can see hating - the world of romance writing sounds cliquish and scary and cutthroat.

    Jess, I know that cliques and cutthroats exist in all organizations, but my experience with the romance community has been overwhelmingly positive. Does it mean we're perfect? Oh, hell no, but please don't judge the writers of the genre by the controversies of recent months.

    Since I first walked into a meeting of NJ Romance Writers over ten years ago, I've been met with supportive, friendly, encouraging, helpful people. They've generously shared their knowledge in ways I can't even begin to count.

    We're also a hell of a lot of fun at parties.

    I'm not naive enough to believe that there aren't spiteful, mean-spirited, envious and exclusionist members in the ranks. However, I do know with all certainty that there are a lot more good people than there are bad.

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  12. You have to understand that there are two types of cons (at least as far as science fiction goes--I'm not familiar with romance circles). There are the huge, for-profit media cons, the ones you always see on TV parading actors from all the currently popular shows, plus all the bargain-basement has-beens. Fans are charged an arm and a leg to get in, then charged the other arm and leg to get an autograph, photo, whatever. And the fans and guests are generally kept apart otherwise.

    The smaller, low-key "literary" cons, on the other hand, harken back to the very roots of the genre. Authors discuss topics with the audience on panels, autographings are a oh-by-the-way thing (unless you're Neil Gaiman) and there are lots of informal discussions in the bars/lounges/hallways/parties. Most of the writers and artist attend just to reconnect with friends on an annual basis. Armadillocon is a prime example of this type. I highly recommend it.

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