Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Secret

This year's World Science Fiction Convention was in Spokane, WA. The layout of the convention center made absolutely no sense. You entered on ground level, only to take an escalator to the 2nd level, where you could find registration, the dealer's room and the art show. From there, you could do one of 5 things:
·       Take an escalator down to one set of rooms,
·       go down a few steps to a down escalator to another set of rooms,
·       walk down a long corridor, turn left, follow a hallway to an (inadequate) bank of elevators to get to the hotel lobby, which you walked across to another set of rooms (I never personally made this trip, although I did try, once.),
·       don't turn left but continue down that long corridor to a down escalator to another set of rooms, or
·       walk past that set of rooms to take an elevator up a floor to yet another set of rooms.
Rumor has it that there were even rooms in another building that one had to go outside to get to.
Even with a map in the pocket program book, convention center staff were stationed at corners so people could ask, "How do I get to X?" We got our exercise!
There were wild fires in Washington, one of them north of Spokane. The city wasn't threatened, but on Friday, the smoke was as thick as heavy fog. Even inside, you could smell it. Played heck with people's sinuses.
But the thing I will probably remember most was The Secret. I heard it in a panel given by authors, and one of them quite nonchalantly stated, "I hate to give away secrets, but we authors don't come to conventions to see our fans; we come to network with other authors and people in the business."
I was shocked!
Now that I have thought about it, I wonder, Then why do they attend the smaller conventions? I mean the smaller, regional conventions where they may be the only 'known' author attending. No editors, no agents, only small press publishers. What would local authors and small press people offer?
I suppose networking is networking, and you never know, the person who is completely unknown this year could the Big Item next year. But still, the fan is in that mix somewhere, right?
How can you sell books if nobody wants to read it? If fans aren't important, why are newbie and wanna-be authors advised to produce the most excellent work they can, because "Your first book is what sells (or doesn't sell) your next book."

Okay, maybe this 'Secret' doesn't say it all. Maybe it was just my personal wake-up to use conventions, not just to have fun, but to network with like-minded people. That's not an easy thing for me to do. But I can talk to people, one or two at a time. Time to give it a try.

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