I’ve just been to my second virtual convention. I went to SFWA’s Nebula Convention and now World Fantasy Convention. I enjoyed both. The first is an industry convention, focused on writers as professionals–so the focus is on contracts, agents, as well as craft; the second more a fan-run, but fan and author centered convention more about what is being published, talking about great stories you’ve read, and working with themes of that particular convention.
I used to go to about three conventions a year— World Fantasy, Can-Con, SFWA/Nebulas, and maybe AWP, sometimes. I’ve been to one WorldCon, a couple of smaller local conventions–Confluence, and Philcon. I did this to see friends, but mostly I did them as a professional writer–someone wanting to get better at writing, meet other writers, get to know publications, publishers, editors and agents that I might like to work with. Friends are a benefit of going to the cons. They are often a lot of fun too. But fun is expensive too.
Sometimes it came from my own pocket. Sometimes I had department money (when I was a lecturer or sometimes as an adjunct teacher). Sometimes I was helped out by Yukon funding–through CITF (the Cultural Industries Training Fund, which allowed artists to go outside the Yukon [Territory in Canada] to receive training). Each of these conferences was expensive in its own way. Travel, hotel, food were all the same—near $1000 these days, but higher when I lived in the Yukon (travel to get out and back to the Yukon was $500–and that was only to 6 major cities at the time, so + more to get farther), and varied registration costs, some lower, which helped some of the smaller cons be more affordable.
I always had a great time, though! I always made new friends and had experiences and memories I will keep with me forever.
But there are virtues to Virtual Cons, and I want to talk about that.
Virtual cons are completely online, and have the same programming and panels–and many of the same features–as a F2F conference. They usually have spaces for panels, for readings, and bar/patio lingering. And John Scalzi has deejayed two dance parties for SFWA already. These cons are usually held on Zoom (or Crowdcast–which uses Zoom). They last as long as F2F conventions. So–much is very similar, content wise. How do they stack up to F2F conventions?
The Virtue of Virtual Conventions
— Cost efficient (conventions are often $1000 with flights, hotels, meals, and registration) reduced to $150 or lower just to attend from your bedroom at home.
— ADA accessible –those with mobility issues or accessibility needs can go to these conventions because they don’t have to face travel, hotels and convention spaces that are often not accommodating to their needsContinue reading