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Ten Reasons to Attend Cons
by L. J. Bothell
Youve heard about them, youve seen them
announced; perhaps theyve even invaded your city. Cons, short for conventions.
World Horror Con, Norwescon, NECON, or whatever. But theyre expensive, require
travel, and lots of weird people go to them. So why would you want to attend
I have ten terrific reasons. Fun, fun, fun, fun,
fun oh, you want ten different reasons? Figures; after all, you are an artist.
Okay, here they are (and not necessarily in this order):
1. The "N" word: Networking. Nothing beats
meeting others who are involved in your craft. Editors meet others who have more
experience and tips, and offer advice to those just getting started. Writers get
together and compare ideas (poets & artists, too). Youll make contacts in
the field or simply meet others within your range of interests. Certainly you
already do this through your craft, but face-to-face meetings cement
relationships that the US mail may not.
2. Workshops. Lots of conventions have
hour-long, afternoon-long, or daylong workshops, no matter what your field is.
Youll gain helpful critiques or learn to critique others work in a relaxed
atmosphere. This is an especially good opportunity if workshops arent normally
your thing (too time-consuming, too expensive, etc.), since they are one-shot
and are included with the price of admission.
3. Readings/viewings. Pros and amateurs alike
have opportunities to read their works in progress and show their creations in
Art Shows. Youll see how an audience responds to your fiction or poetry, or if
your artwork generates interest. Youll also learn a lot just by attending
readings and hearing the style and content, and by visiting the Art Show where
canvases, sculptures, models, and all manner of creations inspire your own
4. Panels. You can visit panels on editing,
writing, art techniques, the Internets influence on publishing, genres, and
roundtables on all sorts of subjects. Usually pros (both professionals and
amateurs with experience) conduct the panels, opening subjects to questions and
general discussion. Youll get loads of useful information when you bring a
notebook and an open mind. As you become more experienced, you may also
participate on panels, sharing tips and ideas with other hungry minds. Also,
when you participate in programming, youll get into the Green Room / VIP rooms
and mingle with others who are accomplished in your field, without fan
5. Autograph sessions. Youll get books and such
autographed by your favorite attending pros, and/or give autographs yourself if
you are an attending pro. Some cons feature mass autograph sessions, where all
the pros are situated in a huge room; you can meet them, one after another.
Other cons specialize in limited, 1/2 hour sessions with a few pros at a time,
so you can stop by for a more personal chat.
6. Dealers Room. Otherwise known as the
Hucksters room, the wallet guzzler, etc. Whether you re a pro or amateur,
writer or artist, bookseller or fan, the Dealers Room has booths for you to
visit. Youll find rare and signed copies of your favorite authors books,
prints of the art in the Art Show, special Con-theme related crafts, costuming
items, and more. Bring lots to spend, because prices range from reasonable to "I
have it and you get to pay", but mostly because youll want just about
7. Meet the fans. This goes hand-in-hand with
networking, but meeting fans, wannabe writer/artists, and people who like SF/F/H
can be as refreshing as meeting your peers. A lot of fans go in for costuming,
gaming, filking (folk singing) and convention planning areas, but you can get an
idea of whos viewing your work and target your audience a little more
8. Circulation. Dont isolate yourself! Its
easy to consider work and your artist space as enough to boost your creativity
and productivity, but you can pigeonhole yourself if you dont get out and see
something of the industry and genre-related events. Okay, you dont have to
attend every con in your area or affordable range, but one or two a year really
offers you a refreshing new perspective. You need to circulate (and have fun,
9. Further your artistic career. Again, this
goes hand-in-hand with networking and meeting the fans, but is more
concentrated. After youve circulated awhile, and your work and reputation
starts to take on a life of its own, you may find that chatting with a
professional (a publisher, magazine editor, etc.) generates solicitation. Novel
pitches have been successfully made, agents found, and illustrators discovered.
If youre good and reliable, why not you too?
10. PAR-TAY!!! Yeah! The best reason is the
after-hours parties. Chocolate parties. Beer parties. Publishing house and
Convention-bid parties. Informal get-togethers in the lounge. People in the
industry love the chance to unwind with their peers, and every con has its
legendary discussions, faux pax, or other memorable event related with
Ten great reasons to visit cons. Actually, there
are many more (cool costumes, dances, the Hospitality Suite). Cons dont have to
break the bank if you budget well and start close to home. Check one out and see
what you get out of it. Youll have an unforgettable experience and will come
away with a wider perspective of your craft, peers, and audience.
© Copyright 2002, L. J. Bothell
L.J. Bothell is a graphic designer/writer with marketing communications emphasis who lives and temps/freelances in Seattle, Washington. Recent/upcoming writing vacations include Vancouver, BC, France, and Italy. Questions? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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