Monday, August 6, 2012

Con Envy

I'm posting late because I had an internet outage, but it's back, so whew.

First, Happy Morning After Mars Landing!

I don't know about you guys out there, but my Inner Geek is having a summer of it.  Some day I'd like to go to the ComicCon in San Diego and get my geek on, and this year I knew several people who went, including a cousin who got a press pass.  Jealous!! 

The ComicCon was always a fleeting thought, something I never intended to go to, until I discovered that they have various author panels there, as well.  So wait, I can go drool over various actors and show creators, as well as visit panels about, say, Kick Ass Chicks in literature?  Gasp!  Suddenly, the face of ComicCon has changed, and it's a place I might really one day like to visit.

Thinking of ComicCon got me looking around at other conventions, as well as other writer's conferences.  I discovered ReaderCon due to a news story about it.  They had Peter Straub and Caitlin R. Kiernan this year.  Wow!  Then there's WorldCon, CryptiCon, ConnityCon...okay, that one's not real.  Point being, there are tons of both conventions and conferences.  Then there are retreats, individual workshops, you name it.  In fact, here is a resource if you want to see what is available to you out there.  They don't have everything out there, but it's a good leaping off point.

How do you decide what to go to?  Firstly, are you looking for a convention or a conference?  Are you going as a fan or to learn and network?  If you're going as a fan, that one should be easy to choose, as you look for the convention which covers what you're a fan of.

If you're wanting a conference, that one may be harder.  I'm lucky, in that I have a highly respected writer's conference right here, not five minutes from me: Pikes Peak Writers Conference.  Though I might eventually want to try a different kind of writer's conference (possibly ReaderCon or WorldCon), for now I'm satisfied with all I get from my local conference.

Many don't have a local conference, or the local conference may not be what you're looking for.  In that case, travel is going to be necessary, whether to a different town or a different state.  Look at each conference you might consider and take into account the pricing, the type of activities offered (is it hands on workshops, seminars, pitches, a combination?), location costs (hotel, flight, food), the speakers and the subjects covered (just for non-fiction, children's writing, fantasy/sci-fi, horror, all of the above?).  If you write children's books, you want to narrow it down to conferences that cover that subject, not go to a non-fiction conference.

Don't recognize the names of the speakers?  Go online and research them, especially the editors and agents.  See who they've represented, what they've helped publish.  If what they're putting out is something you respect, they may be the right fit for you.  If you still don't recognize what they're putting out, maybe wait for different opportunities.

As for pricing, conference rates vary widely.  I've seen prices in the thousands, down to less than $100.  Putting yourself in the poor house for a conference isn't a good idea.  One fact I've seen repeated is that you are not likely to get a publishing contract out of a conference.  Yes, there are conferences where you can pitch, but the acceptance rate is pretty low.  You are going to a conference more to network and learn from industry experts and professionals than anything else.  Going as a fan or going simply to pitch won't be the best ideas.

Other things to consider: Is it in an area you might like to visit anyway?  You can play tourist the day before or after and get in a bit of a vacation.  Will you be able to stay at the venue or are there hotels nearby?  Would you be able to walk or take a shuttle, or will you have to drive in a strange town?  Do you have friends in the area who might let you stay with them?  Might a Con location  be one you get sent to by work, so you could work during the week, but delay your return to attend on the weekend?  Is food included in the price of the Con admission, or will you have to find food yourself?  Is there a good selection of restaurants nearby?  If this is a conference or convention that moves each year, might there be a year it will come closer to you?  WorldCon has a listing of past conferences, as well as having two future years listed.  I was interested to see that it comes through Denver, CO every so many years, so I can patiently wait for that one to find its way here in the future.

I'm sure there are many other questions you'll need to ask yourself that I haven't covered, but choosing the conference or convention that is right for you involves a lot of steps.  Consider your choice carefully, but don't let it overwhelm you.  Conferences are work, but they should also be enjoyable, at least in my opinion.

Ever been to ComicCon?  What sorts of Cons, both conference and convention, have you attended or would you like to attend?  Is there one above the rest that you'd like to go to?  Or do you have no interest in going to one ever? 

May you find your Muse.


  1. Never been to Comic Con, although it would be a lot of fun. Went to a Star Trek convention once. There are a lot of science fiction ones on the east coast but none really close to me.

  2. I've been to Phoenix Comic Con. It was great. Lots to do. Lots to see. If you have even a little bit of a geek side, you should try to attend the closest comic convention to you.

  3. There aren't a great deal of cons out here in the dark wilds of Wales, sadly. ComicCon would be amazing but it's a pipe dream. Maybe I'll get to go to the SFX weekender one day ...

    Jamie @ Mithril Wisdom

  4. I've been to a few smaller comic conventions but never the one in San Diego :(
    I haven't been to anything in at least a decade, though.

  5. this whole week i am preparing for the comic con... that is happening this weekend. my post will reflect, but i might have some freelance that will take the win.

  6. I've never been to the ComiCon but would love to go. But I love to play tourist in my own town. Lots of parks to visit and a downtown ghost tour along with a really cool cemetary.

  7. I have never been to any Cons and I have weighed the pros and cons of this....I never fail to crack myself up!

    I fear going to a convention would cause me to spend too much money for more needless stuff, know what I mean?

  8. Alex, I tried to talk my hubby into the sci-fi con in Calgary this year, as the entire ST Next Generation cast was reuniting (he is a Trekkie), but he chose not to. I think he really would have liked it.

    Randy, there's something called Starfest that comes to Denver each year (April). It is paired up with a Horrorfest and several other, in three different hotels, with one set of tickets to get into them all. I'm thinking maybe hubby and I need a Con date - he to the sci-fi, me to the horror.

    Jamie, where is the SFX weekender held?

    Andrew, do you aim to go to the SD one ever, or is it something you aren't really interested in?

    Jeremy, good luck to you and hope you're having a ton of fun! I'M JEALOUS!

    Shelly, I do the same here! My kids love to go on our "field trips." We've been spreading it out to go to nearby towns, too, such as Canon City and Victor.

    Chuck, mu-wahaha! Yeah, the money would be an issue here, too. I know there'd be an overwhelming amount of cool stuff. It's the same reason I don't go to a camera shop. I'd covet everything there.

  9. Oh, I would love to go to it, but it's really out of my price range, these days, especially since you have to register for the next year as soon as the current one ends.

  10. Andrew, I hadn't noticed that before, but saw that ticket sales were opening up soon when I went and looked. That is insane! The one good thing is that you can refund up to a specific date, but I didn't look into it further to see if it was a full refund or minus a fee.