Monday, September 26, 2016

That Was FenCon, and How To Con Better

So, I'm back from FenCon, and it was a lovely time, and I'm exhausted.
Mostly because I woke up at 5am-- a time that is not a good look for me, if you know me.  Even at my age, I'm more likely to see 5am from the other side than to wake up at that time.  (Though nowadays, it would probably be that I was on a writing streak, and lost all track of time.  It does happen.)  But I woke up at 5am to be able to reach Dallas (technically, Irving, TX) before my 10am panel.  Panels were excellent, seeing the usual Texas people was excellent, having an extended chat with Jim Hines was excellent, seeing my old friend from college that I hadn't seen for a couple years was excellent.  (Can you tell I'm tired-- I'm not bothering with changing up the adjectives.)
One thing that kept coming up in conversation-- and something I've been thinking about for a while-- is how to make cons better for writers.  Now... this is a bit of a broad brush, and intentionally so.  Some cons are fantastically writer-friendly, and do great things that make it worth a writer's while to come out.  Some... less so.  And some are more geared toward the kind of writer who is going to set up their own booth and hand-sell their books.  If you're at that kind of con and don't have that inclination (hint: I do not), it's going to be a waste of time.
So the question comes up: what cons do it well?  What cons want to do better, and what does "doing better" look like?  How can we, collectively as writers, do to help the con runners?  Is it better for us to focus on fan-run, lit-focused cons (smaller but more targeted audience), or much at the larger full media cons (large crowds, but lit track tends to be lost in the shuffle.)
These are the sort of things I'm thinking about.  Mostly because I love going to cons, but I have a hard time justifying the expense if I'm not really moving the needle on a fanbase.  I'm a big believer in the quantum mechanics of value; I don't need to be pocketing more money than I spent to go (see above: I do not want to be hand-selling my books myself)-- but I do need to have a sense that it was productive in getting people interested in my books.
So what does this mean?  Well, I'll be thinking about what I'm attending next year... and, of course, I'm open to invitation.  I don't have anything else planned for 2016, but in 2017 I should be attending ConDFW, Comicpalooza, ArmadilloCon and World Fantasy.  SoonerCon is on the table, but I need to see if I can make it work.  And if you want me at your con... give me a buzz.  I'm glad to discuss it.

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