What kind of convention/conference is right for you?
The number of conferences and conventions that are available for writers to attend each year is staggering. How do you know what is the right con for you? Are you looking for a chance to meet authors? Are you hoping to network with industry professionals? Or just have a fun weekend celebrating your favorite kinds of books?
Types of conventions:
Genre conventions cater to authors, fans, and industry professionals. Some of the large genre conventions include the World Science Fiction Convention, the World Fantasy Convention, and the World Horror Convention. While there may be a “workshop” track of programming, most of the programming is panel based, featuring authors, editors, agents, and fans discussing various SF/F/H topics. You can usually find several panels on the programming discussing the publishing industry. For example, some panels have topics like "What Do Editors Do All Day?" and "The Future of Publishing."
This kind of convention is great for networking in a casual atmosphere. There are parties every night where you can meet some of your favorite authors, as well as their editors and agents. As with all conventions and conferences, if you get the chance meet one of these nice people, use common sense. Don’t go straight into a pitch of your novel.
I met many of my friends in the industry at genre conventions. Be adventurous with the programming you attend. Many genre conventions host readings by authors. Readings are great opportunities to hear new works and discover new authors. If you enjoy a reading, head over to the dealer’s room, a room where books and other fun items are sold, and pick up a copy of the author's book. Go to a signing and get your book autographed. It’s a great way to start conversation.
In addition to the large genre conventions, regional conventions happen all the time. Wiscon, an annual convention in Madison, Wisconsin is the “world's leading feminist science fiction convention." Boskone is an annual convention held in Boston, Massachusetts that celebrates genre fiction. Find local genre conventions near you!
Over the past few years, many genre conventions have hosted multiple panels on YA and middle grade genre fiction. How do we get kids reading genre fiction? What are the hot titles and why?
Fellow Pub Crawler Leigh Bardugo and I will be both be appearing on programming this Labor Day Weekend at the World Science Fiction Convention in Chicago. Come say hi!
Writer’s conferences are conferences designed specifically for the aspiring author. Participants pay to have their work critiqued by agents and editors and attend panels about the industry. For children’s authors, the largest writer’s conference is run by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. A typical SCBWI conference features panels by industry professionals, sessions with editors and agents that critique first page or first 10 page of a novel, sessions where writers can pitch their novel to agents, and all-around fun with other writers and illustrators of children’s books. Editors who participate in SCBWI conferences are asked to accept submissions from conference attendees for two months after the conference. These conferences are a great opportunity to chat with agents and editors who have a vested interest in guiding new writers.
Fan conventions are about celebrating fandom. I’ll lump San Diego Comic-Con in this group because there isn’t much networking to be done at a con that large (unless you are trying to break into comic illustration, but that’s a whole other post). That said, Comic-Con is a great place to see some of your favorite writers, tv and movie stars.
The Harry Potter fan community has Leakycon which has turned into so much more than a Harry Potter celebration. With the addition of the literary track, Leakycon has become another place for YA writers to discuss the industry. FULL DISCLOSURE: I haven’t made it to Leakycon yet, but it is at the top of my convention bucket list.
What conventions and conferences have you attended? What was your experience?