Should you go or not?
The first convention I ever went to was in Boston in 1977 – NewCon Science Fiction Convention – back when sci fi cons were all about books. Well, almost all about books, they did show that blooper reel from Star Trek that could only be shown a few times a year, some propaganda cartoons (incredibly racist) and I think an episode of The Prisoner.
(this is the part where I feel I should tell you kids to get off my lawn.)
But Star Wars had been released (and there was no talk of a sequel yet) and that was pretty much the beginning of people coming to sci fi conventions who’d never read a book. Okay, I’m trying to make friends with this blog, so I’ll stop right now and let Robert J. Sawyer take over. Here’s his view of how Star Wars ruined science fiction literature:
I was in the audience once when Rob gave that speech (GenreCon in Sarnia, Ontario a few years ago) and he starts it by saying he won't take any questions but, man, some guys just vibrate in their seats trying to hold it together.
Anyway, the question here is should you go to conventions or conferences or festivals, or whatever they're called and I say yes, you should go.
If you’re a writer – even a ‘pre-published’ writer – a book conference like Bouchercon or Left Coast Crime or Bloody Words here in Canada is a great way to feel like a writer and to be around people who feel the same way. These are places for people who love books.
Now, these conventions aren’t very good places to sell books. It’s good to make sure there are copies of your book in the dealers’ room, but I mean they aren’t good places for you to try and sell your book to someone. That’s not really what they’re for and no one wants to put up with hundreds of writers trying to sell them a book.
The thing is, most of the time when you’re a writer you're also something else – a schoolteacher or a stay-at-home-Dad (that was me for years), an insurance salesman or a computer progammer or something. And usually the something takes first place in your life.
So, at something like Bouchercon, for four days you get to be a writer first. In a hotel bar packed with people who understand exactly what that means.
You might even learn something at a panel. At Bouchercon in Madison a few years ago Jim Fusilli was on the panel about music in mysteries and he pointed out that if you can't write a few lines as trite as a pop song and need to actually use real ones you're not working hard enough. That hit me because there are music references all over my books. Now, in the book I'm working on I finally have characters who are musicians and I'm having fun writing their sappy lyrics.
You might even hear someone like Rob Sawyer go off on a tangent that starts a riot.
Or maybe I'm just trying to justify the money I'm spendig to go to Dublin for the Books Fest 2009 where I'll be on a panel with Stuart Neville.
Maybe I'll even sell a couple of books...
(filling out the post option to make this come on line tomorrow I notice that will be 09/09/09 -- spooooky....)