I keep putting this off but I have to blog something this week and I really don't know why I haven't just gotten down to it. Maybe it's because I don't want to acknowledge that World Fantasy Con is over. So fantastic an experience was it that I wish it could have gone on much longer than it did. As much as I did in those four days, it passed like a flash, and looking back it wasn't long enough.
Unlike many cons, World Fantasy is a literary convention focused on writers, editors, publishers and artists. It leans heavily toward pros, semi-pros and aspiring pros, and it is all about one thing: networking. Sure, they have the World Fantasy awards. Sure, they have panels. But the heart of this convention is community. And I felt a part of the community of Science Fiction and Fantasy in a special way. I met some people I have long admired and wanted to meet, and I met others who are just getting started just like me. Some of those were friends I'd already met on Twitter and Facebook. Some were new faces. Either way, it was a delight to be able to finally say "yes, I know these people."
I spent a lot of time just meeting as many people as I could. In some cases, I used the excuse of books to get signed. In others, I used my position with Tangent. At no time did I try to sell anyone my work. Instead, I focused on just making a good impression and getting to know them. In the end, I found people often asked me about myself in turn. One person at the TOR party, upon hearing my dream of one day being a TOR author, introduced me to Tom Doherty himself as a great new writer. Mind you, this was someone who had never read my work. Doherty asked me what I was working on and who I was going to send it to, then suggested I send it directly to one of his editors. I could have pinched myself.
Another time, I got to chat with editor John Joseph Adams, who happens to date a friend of mine. JJ is a really nice guy and I enjoyed picking his brain about editing and his approach as well as anthologies. I pitched him an idea of my own to get his opinion and he thought it was a good idea, then suggested some potential markets. I already have one publisher interested and want to approach another just in case.
I also spent several hours with Mike Resnick, one of my writing heroes. I've befriended him on FB and Twitter, and though I didn't remind him of his promise to buy me a drink, instead we talked about my novel and how to market and he introduced me to several people who came by -- Kay Kenyon, Gordon Van Geller, and others since Mike knows everyone.
Lastly, I spent several hours chatting with Jeremy Lassen and the publisher of Brilliance Audio about publishing and other topics. They were very kind to this ignorant neophyte and explained things, offering the wisdom of their experience.
I also got the chance to give out some copies of my book "The North Star Serial, Part 1." Mostly to friends, including Mike Resnick, as a thank you for their support. I attended readings of friends like John Remy, Sandra Wickham, JJ Adams, and Saladin Ahmed. And I got autographs and brief chats with luminaries like Paolo Bacigalupi, John Scalzi, Peter Straub, David Drake, Gene Wolfe, David Hartwell, Gordon Van Gelder, and others.
With all the free food in the Con Suite and the free books, I was in unemployed person's heaven. I still spent a bit of money on a few books and meals and luggage costs, but overall, I just got the chance to hang out and relax. The two or three panels a day I managed to attend were informative and enjoyable. And downtown Columbus turned out to be a great experience as well.
For me, as I prepare to release my first book, I got a better sense of what a con might run like, which can help me prepare to participate more fully as a writer next year. And I got a lot of brochures on various cons to help me learn about what's out there. Truly a memorable experience. I'm so glad I went.
To Simon, Livia, Blake, Sam, Sandra, Erika, John, Christie, JJ, Saladin, Brenda, John, and the other new friends who let me hang out with them, such a pleasure. I look forward to doing it again.
For what it's worth...