In part 3, we finished our discussion of what you might find at a typical literary con. Now it’s time to plan our visit!
In previous posts, I mentioned that conventions promote themselves by going to other cons. They throw room parties, leave flyers, and sell memberships. Volunteers who work at one con may help with others too. Con committees and staff network with other cons, and they always have.
The good news is that if you, as an author, can get involved and help the convention to succeed and raise the level of fun and interest, you can gain a reputation that will serve you well at other conventions. If you behave badly, you can get a reputation that will be very hard to escape!
Women have had a strong tradition of participation at the literary SF cons, and as far as I can tell behavior at these cons has historically been genteel. But the press from the media cons has attracted creeper attendees ( see Cosplay Is Not Consent, for examples), the SF cons have gotten explicit about unacceptable behavior, and they’re serious about it. There are usually several pages of other policies in the program ( including alcohol, tobacco, and firearms ).
After hours it’s common for authors, agents, and editors to hang out in the hotel bar. It’s called “Bar Con”. This can be a great place to network, but overindulging can get you that reputation you’d like to avoid. (Fantastic novelist) Mary Robinette Kowal told the story of an editor who waits for a newbie author to get drunk, then invites them to pitch their book. Hilarity ensues. Enough said? With that behind us…
When you’re looking at different con websites, check out their program schedule from previous years, and see if there is programming related to your work. Relaxacons are social conventions that may have less ambitious programming, and you’ll have to decide if those are a good fit for you.
You might also look into volunteering. There are things that can be done before the con, during set-up, at the con, and during tear-down. Here’s a description of the volunteer options for Penguicon, as an example. In this case, working for 8 hours would get you pre-registered for next year. The Penguin Pit (2 volunteer hours) is a room for a large group of volunteers to sleep in if they can’t afford a hotel room.
In part 5, we’ll finally talk about presenting!