07-21-18 Patricia Sargeant

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Conventions, Yes or No?

I'd like to thank Judith and Sarah for asking me to guest post today about fan conventions . In recent years conventions have become popular due to the emergence of people wanting to spend time with others of like minds. Writers are great examples of these types of people. Writing is a solitary experience so we like to get together to chit-chat and share our experiences. Fans are much the same way wanting to share their stories. There are lots of great things about conventions and a few drawbacks.

The organization that the runs any convention is practically always the same, with committees who run everything, to the volunteers and presenters who bring in the attendees. It takes everyone to make a good convention. Each and every convention is filled with workshops galore on topics of interest to almost every fan or writer and activities from balls to concerts.

Writing conferences tend to have workshops on the craft of writing, the publishing industry and promotion. Fan convention workshops include classes on a wide variety of topics, from costume making to writing in that genre. We writers like to party and have fun just like everyone else with Karaoke, costume parties on weekends close to Halloween, and going out to dinner together. Fan conventions tend to put on concerts, balls and various other sorts of fun parties.

Now the question that burns in most peoples mind. Why do you go to a convention? I'm sure everyone will have a different answer, but for me, there are a number of reasons why I attend a convention. Number one on my list of qualities is the cost. All cons cost, but how much is key to anyone on a budget. Cons can be priced anywhere from forty dollars for the weekend up to over five hundred for a week.

The second thing I look at is the location of the con. GearCon is located locally for me here in Portland as was OryCon. SteamCon is located up in Seattle, WA. For SteamCon I'd have to figure in not only the cost of the convention itself, but travel, hotel, and meals, and the cost of anything I wanted to actually buy while there. These costs can add up quickly. The same could be said of writing conferences. Most writers choose specific cons depending on their budgets.

The third thing I consider is what topics are covered in the workshops and activities. Are there workshops I'd be willing to pay the price of the convention for and travel to go to? For instance, at OryCon there was a workshop on Medieval Tunic Making, which included not only the pattern but how to measure, cut and sew to create your own tunic. There was also a panel on writing a series, which is where I am headed. At GearCon there were costuming workshops, and even for a novice hand sewer they were informative and great place to ask questions.

Then I combine all of those criteria and ask myself if the convention would be worth my money and my time. Can I afford a whole week/weekend or just a day? If I choose a day, which has the most workshops and activities that I'm interested in? When I can tell myself that it is legitimately worth the time and money, I go ahead. I enjoy and return recharged and excited to continue on my fun-loving writing journey.

Are there any question I can answer about Conventions? Any extra thoughts?


Judith Ashley said...

Hi Mae,

One of the primary reasons I attend Conventions or Conferences is to see the people I've met before and only see once a year when we all come back.

And I do come back recharged, even if I spend most of my time volunteering to help make the event a success - it's my way of giving back to a community that has so totally supported me on my quest.

Sarah Raplee said...

Mae, I think attending fan conventions as a published author will be more about networking and interacting with fans.As an unpublished author, for now I'm attending fan conventions to learn more about my readers, to attend workshops, and to have fun.

But I attend writing conferences to network and pitch my books. Before I had completed manuscripts to sell, workshop attendance was high on my list of priorities.

I don't plan to attend any book fan conventions (like RT) until I am published. Then I'll attend to interact with fans.

I think the most important thing is to have goals when you spend the money to attend a convention or conference. Those goals will change at different points in your career.

Great post!

Bron said...

Hi Mae

It's even harder for me, because I live in NZ. We do have a RW conf in NZ and in also one in Aussi but it's always over an eight hour drive in NZ and a three hour flight to Aussi.

I'm thinking of going to RT Book Lovers in Chicago in 2012 as I sold last year - only a 30 hour flight for me from NZ!

I am definitely going to my first RWA conf in July 2012 - airfare booked - only a 15 hour flight.

I won't even mention the dollars!!!

But I look at it as an investment in my career. It's certainly harder to get to conventions from NZ.