The last few days, I’ve been processing the experience of participating at Rustycon as an attending professional. Here are some thoughts:
- I sat on six panels — one on Friday and five on Saturday — and had a scheduled reading Sunday morning at 10:00 a.m. Preparing for it all felt a bit like work, which I suppose it is.
- Four of the panels were a hoot — they were well attended, there was lots of questions and audience participation and the other panelists were fun and challenging to talk to. My favorite was the Friday night session on getting published. My fellow panelist — John Hedtke — writes technical non-fiction and has published 26 books. It was a spirited and funny sixty minutes.
- Two of the panels — I won’t say which two — were not so much fun. One in particular was painful. in the first minutes, a woman in the audience asked a question about research and then would not let anyone on the panel provide a complete answer. She kept talking, interrupting, wouldn’t let anyone else in the audience get in a coherent word, and there was no polite way we could shut her up. After a time, people began leaving. Some of the other panel members looked as if they wished they could leave. I know I wanted to.
- My tight schedule didn’t give me a lot of time to wander around and see what else was being offered. I did get a chance late Saturday to chat awhile with Michael Ehart, who was also there as an attending pro. The more I get a chance to talk with him, the more I like him. I think Michael is as serious as I am about making this writing thing work. I wish him much luck and hope I keep running into him.
- Since Rustycon was here in Seattle, I commuted from home — 12 miles each way. I suspect I missed out on a lot of the convention color by not staying at the hotel — the Airport Marriott. I’m planning on attending two more SF conventions in Seattle this spring — Potlatch in March and Norwescon in April. The folks at Norwescon have already invited me to participate as an attending professional. If I can afford it, I hope to stay the weekend at the host hotels.
- Sunday morning was a disappointment. I had decided to read Flotsam, my story that will appear in Analog sometime this year. I prepped hard for that thirty-minute session. Rehearsed reading the story, promoted it as much as I could during my panels and handed out business cards and flyers to people I bumped into between panel sessions. I was pumped for it. Nobody showed up. I understand that I have to build an audience, that people will come to appreciate my work if it’s supposed to be. Even so, it was difficult to sit there in that empty room and wait.
- I need to call upon my training and experience in marketing. I hadn’t really considered that before attending Orycon in November. The people who attend SF conventions, and show up for the panels on the writing track, are my target audience. I’m offering them a product — me and my stories. I can’t expect them to buy that product if I don’t promote it.