Julie Barrett is a freelance writer and photographer based in Plano, TX.

What Authors And Artists Can Do To Help Their Local Conventions

Fresh when it gets here from Julie Barrett
Monday, January 9, 2012

(I decided to split this off from the previous entry.)

At InstaCon9 over the weekend I did a presentation that included a part on how conventions can help the authors and artists they can't fit on programming. Most conventions get far more requests to be on programming than they have slots available. It's tough to say no. Yet, conventions do want to support local authors and artists. The course of the conversation turned to what authors and artists can do to support conventions, and I thought I'd share some of the results of that discussion.

Conventions and their panelists have a bit of a symbiotic relationship. They help you by giving you some exposure. You help them by appearing on programming.

Did you enjoy the convention you attended? Then blog about it, post to Facebook, or whatever your preferred online method may be. (I'll use "blog" as a generic term.) Are you attending a convention? Blog about it and post a link. This sounds like a no-brainer, but if you want your fans to come see you, send them to the place where they can get information on how to attend. You get your fans, and the con gets another membership/ticket sale. 

Had a problem with the convention? Before you take it public, please discuss it with the concom. They want everyone - guests, panelists, attendees - to have a good time. Was your problem with the hotel and not the convention's fault? Please tell the concom. Sometimes they can go to bat for you and help get the problem solved. Even if they can't, they'll be keeping notes for when they negotiate their next contract. Didn't get put on enough panels? Please ask. If slots were limited and they can't help you out before the convention, check in when you arrive and see if there are any last-minute openings due to cancellations or schedule changes on the part of other participants. 

Did you get put on a panel that you really have no business being on? Please speak up. Conrunners are human and make mistakes. They may not realize they've made a mistake until it's called to their attention. In the rush to finalize a grid, these things happen. Believe me, the con staff, as overworked as they are, would rather take care of these things ahead of time. Don't be afraid to say something. And don't be afraid to speak up if you think you've been overscheduled. Chances are pretty good they can fill a slot if you want to cut back. It helps both you and the convention when you're are happy with your assignments. (Sadly, the convention can't please everyone, but they do try.)

Educate your fellow authors and artists about how conventions work and what's expected of them. New authors don't always understand what goes on at a convention; they just know they want to sit on panels and promote their work. How many times have you sat on a panel with the newbie author who put up the "fortress" of books, or started every point they made on a panel with "in MY book...," or hogged the proceedings. (I was a newbie and made more than my share of mistakes. I appreciate my fellow authors who took me aside and gave me gentle correction.) Help them understand that participant slots are limited, and that being turned down is nothing to take personally.

Regional, fan-run conventions really do want to help you get some exposure and make the trip worth your while, which is one of the reasons they limit their participant lists. Believe me, they're looking at new and innovative ways to give local authors and artists more exposure. 

And now I have to deal with the rest of the fallout from InstaCon9. That's right: laundry awaits!

Filed under: Conventions            


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