Sunday, February 26, 2012

Every Con has its Flavor

Have you ever been to a ‘science fiction’ convention? And if you have, what type?

My first convention would be termed a ‘media’ con today. Specifically, it was a Star Trek convention, run by a group of dedicated fans in Kansas City. Over the next decade, I attended other media conventions, but they were changing. Most of the fan-run conventions no longer concentrated on one show, but gathered actors from various sf movies and shows - and maybe some not-so-sf venues. I remember one convention that had guests from Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek and other shows. As I wandered through the dealer’s room, I was surprised to see fanzines for Starsky and Hutch! Well, whatever that editor was into, I guessed.

Then I started attending ‘literary’ conventions. These were more my style. I had never dreamed of being a famous actress, but I have wanted to be a writer from a very young age. At a literary convention, I could attend panels given by authors, agents and editors, and get advice on how to write, how to write better, and the business of writing.

Later, my husband and I discovered gaming conventions. But while I thought this was a fun thing to do on Saturday nights, it wasn’t something I wanted to do for an entire weekend. I went to the local one with the kids and stuck around all day in case they needed something, but I sat in the corner, reading.

Then an anime convention started in our area. I like some anime, dislike others and don’t understand still others. Frankly, I’m almost afraid to attend this convention, because I don’t know anime shows by names. The first one I ever saw was an episode of Lupin III, and that’s the only name I can remember, so I can’t talk to others intelligently on this subject.

About 3 years ago, John and I stumbled across a comic convention while on vacation, and now we plan a vacation so we can attend that con. That first year, I found one panel on writing, and had to ‘settle’ for other kinds of panels ... making independent films, costuming, rumors and trailers for upcoming movies.... When I couldn’t find any panel of any interest, I would sit in the hallway and watch all the costumes walk by. And they were a thoroughly mixed bag! Quite a bit of anime, but also super heroes, Star Wars ... I think I even saw an Olive Oyl and Popeye! This year, they had a couple more panels on writing, and instead of 4 or 5 people in the audience, the room was packed!

So, ‘sf’ conventions are all over the place, and for whatever sub-genre you like. No two are exactly alike, even if they are the same ‘type’. Taste a few and see which ones you like.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Help Wanted

It’s a lot of work to be a book writer. You need to think up a plot, figure out personalities for your characters, choose a setting, write a rough draft, which you then rewrite a few times before giving it a final polish. In the midst of those rewrites, you hopefully have somebody read it and give you clues where it needs work.

Now you’ve got a finished manuscript, but your work isn’t done. At this point you have to find an agent or publisher where you can send it. And if you find 3 or 6 possibilities, you have to decide where to send it first. Then you make sure it’s properly formatted and send it.

Time for the really hard work – waiting. If you’re lucky, they’ll respond quickly. (If you’re really lucky, they’ll love it.) But when they finally do respond, and if they didn’t choose it, then you have to repeat the paragraph above.

If/when it does sell, your work still isn’t done. You need to market, to let the world know that your book will be/has been published, entice people to be interested, tell them how to get a copy….

And hopefully, you’ve started your next project, right?

This comes up because I recently read an old blog about author’s assistants - or rather, training available for people who wanted to be author’s assistants. The blogger and most of the author commentors felt this MUST be a scam. They picked out particular phrases in the advertisement that – they felt – proved it was only an effort to relieve writers of money they could not afford to lose. These were fiction writers, in a genre where most authors also have a full-time ‘day job’; at least, that’s the type of website where I found the blog. They were so busy getting themselves worked up about this ‘scam’, they completely ignored that the training was aimed at assistants for self-published non-fiction writers who are experts in their field.

I love the ‘writing’ part of this job. But If I could find someone to research markets, agents and publishers, and make all those submissions for me, someone I could afford, I’d hire her/him.

No, I take that back. First, I’d hire a maid. I hate housework even more.