I have returned from Calgary where I attended the World Fantasy Convention, a yearly gathering of editors, publishers, writers of Fantasy literature. There were three of us from Whitehorse–Marcelle Dubé, Claire Eamer and me–forming a Contingency.
The convention for me was divided into four parts: the seminars, the networking, the readings and the dealer’s room.
The Seminars: The theme was Mystery in Fantasy Literature, with some seminars on how to put mystery elements into your fantasy fiction, or the best Fantasy novels of the last 20 years, etc. You can go and hear editors and publishers and writers speak about their writing strategies and their interests. Important was putting names and faces together in the editing and publishing world and getting an idea of what each editor might enjoy seeing in fantasy fiction, and how they might be to work with as editors and publishers. I also learned a lot about which authors were considered the best in the field, and how to catch up on authors I’d missed out on.
Networking: This is actually a lot of fun. Catching people for dinner, or talking with them in the convention suites after programming/seminars were over. You meet a lot of people you could never meet otherwise and this is for them–and you–to put names and faces together. I was able to hand out a few cards (ones that I’d made on my computer an hour before I left on the Air North plane), and meet a lot of people one on one who are exciting, interesting folks–fellow writers, and the aforementioned editors and publishers. You’d be surprised to learn, I’m sure, that I’m not a good schmoozer. I couldn’t last the many hours it requires. However, as the picture implies, we all got nametags and were encouraged to sit in the autograph room as equals–this is actually a very nice egalitarian maneuver. We’ve been hearing and talking to editors and publishers as they are movers, shakers, and opinion-makers–and then for two hours, we are all on the same level together. Nope, no one came up to have me sign anything. But it was nice–to feel like a writer, someone who COULD give autographs at any moment.
The readings: though I didn’t go to very many, I did enjoy the ones I went to. Mostly they were friends that I knew. Here you can hear about books you haven’t bought yet.
The dealer’s room: where books are sold. Ah, the joy of the dealer’s room. Lots of books. And I got to do an interview with Edge Books Website for a podcast. I even signed some books for them: Tesseracts Nine and Eleven. Edge Books and Hades Publications are fantastic people.
I’d like to do it again. But one of the biggest lessons I learned there was that you could be a well-known name despite publishing very much. If you send stuff out to be published, and are rejected, your name will still be more recognizable than if you had never submitted at all.
So, courage–even without publication–is rewarded with recognition. And recognition in a small cadre of people is worth its weight in gold.
(picture: l-r, Catherine Cheek, Derek Kunsken, me, Peter Atwood—Catherine and Peter were fellow Clarionites–and thanks to Liza Trombi of LOCUS for the pic! Thanks, Liza!)
Hey, don’t sell yourself short. You can schmooze with the best of ’em!