The Big One
We’re in the thick of con season now! ReaderCon, Comic-Con, WorldCon, Dragon*Con, World Fantasy. All big, all very expensive (It’s hard to do any of these for less than $600). So many choices, so little time/money/endurance.
Have you been debating which cons to go to? Wondering what you are missing? Here’s a bit about the Big 5.
(Note: There are a lot of major cons I haven’t listed here: Wiscon, Norwescon, etc. This is due to either lack of personal experience, or a narrower focus on the part of the con, not anything personal. If you want to recommend a specific con in the comments, I’d love to hear about your experiences.)
ReaderCon: THE con to go to if you love the celebration of beautiful literature, expanding science and some of the best authors in the genre. The Shirley Jackson Awards are handed out here, acknowledging the best dark fiction of the year. Held in Boston in July.
Tip: Cars are nice to have here, or a group of friends (one of which has a car). Cambridge is surprisingly lacking in things within walking distance. Make sure you’re going to have a new pad of paper: you’ll need to take notes.
Comic-Con: Do I really need to explain this one? Comics, games, movies, TV. Directors, comics artists, authors, SF artists, actors…the list goes on. You could run into George R.R. Martin, My Little Pony or Guillermo del Toro. But it is a LOT of fans. Also held in July, in San Diego.
Tip: Good walking shoes; protein bars; HYDRATION; and, possibly, riot gear. And a book for while you’re in line. Keep your schedule flexible, and be ready to miss out on something you really, really wanted to do.
WorldCon: It’s held in a different location each year, sometimes in the United States and sometimes abroad. If it’s held abroad, we North Americans get NasFic. Held in August, WorldCon is a few thousand professionals in one place. Lots of panels, lots of people to talk to. The Hugos are awarded here. Members of WorldCon are eligible to vote in the Hugos (if registered by July 31), and receive all the Hugo-nominated material in digital form.
Tip: Lots and lots of business cards. And a tolerance for alcohol and late nights. (But hey, you’re a writer. Those last two things basically go without saying, right?)
Dragon*Con: A strange bastardization of Comic-Con and literary con and bazaar. D*C is smaller than ComicCon, but significantly bigger than any of the literary cons. However, they attract a lot of good authors and still maintain a fairly steady literary track.
This is a good convention for newer writers who haven’t hit the ‘pro’ level yet, and still want to participate in workshops and panels aimed specifically for them. Michael Stackpole runs an excellent writer’s workshop that runs the duration of the weekend.
If you do plan to go, plans need to be made well in advance: the rooms set aside for D*C sell out within an hour of becoming available.
Tip: Exactly the same things as for Comic*Con: the con is held in 5 separate hotels (another was added last year), the lines are long, and the heat is wicked. Don’t drink the booze. Take allergy meds: even native Atlanteans will bitch about the pollen.
World Fantasy: As Morgan would say: Srs Bzns. Or something like that. Anyways, World Fantasy is a very small convention aimed for the business end of things. Capped at 800-ish people, it sells out fairly early. Best if you’ve already been writing for a while and are now focusing on agents, publishers or connections. WFC is held at the end of October.
Tip: Listen, learn. If you have a novel, practice your elevator pitch. If you’re a short story author, be ready to talk about that. Know what you write.