2015-08-24

Sasquan (WorldCon) Report

Worldcon has ended. Overall, it was a wonderful experience. I will refrain from giving a day-by-day, blow-by-blow report and, instead, present the highlights.

I sat on 5 panels and I have mixed emotions concerning them. On one of the panels (The New Space Opera) I was very much out of my league and felt very uncomfortable. The other panelists had far more experience than I and one of the members had an encyclopedic memory of the field, being able to rattle off the names of novels along with the author and date of original publication. But, I believe I did okay. Two of the panels had a hard time staying on the subject and the moderator allowed two of the more forceful panelists to dominate the conversation. There were things I felt we should have talked about but the panel never seemed to come close to the subject. The remaining panels went very well and I had several individuals approach me afterwards to discuss additional details.

Overall, if I decide to do panels in the future, I will pay very close attention to who else is assigned and withdraw if I feel I will not be able to contribute. I will say that I learned as much as a panelist as I would have had I been sitting in the audience. I also attended a handful of panels on a broad range of subjects and picked up a lot of useful information.

There were two highlights I need to mention: The Launch Pad reunion, and the Hugo awards. The Launch Pad reunion was my idea and I believe it was a big success. I connected with many of the people I have met over the years as well as people who attended Launch Pad before I started going. Vonda McIntyre suggested that we introduce ourselves and share our experience. As each person talked I noticed that everyone agreed that becoming friends with a group of people you otherwise might never have met was one of their best memories. I am still kicking myself for not recording that part of the meet-up.

The second highlight event was attending the Hugo awards. Stu Segal obtained a ticket for me in the upper tier press area where I had a great view of the proceedings. This year's Hugo awards have been marred by controversy (the Sad Puppies thing) and the awards reflected how the fans felt about what had happened. As of 1967 (I hope I have the date right) there has been a choice for voters of "No Award". Between then and 2014 there have been a total of 5 such awards. That number was doubled at this year's ceremony. Although I'm still a bit confused over exactly what transpired, from all the tweets I've read from my fellow authors, it sounds as if the voting fans have overwhelmingly declared that the attempted manipulation of the Hugos was not something they appreciated. I should also mention that David Gerrold and Tananarive Due did an outstanding job of MCing the event. I had a great time time.

WorldCon has been a staple of science fiction fans for 78 years and it still remains a relatively uncrowded convention. While large conventions such as DragonCon and San Diego Comicon draw tens of thousands, this year's WorldCon had a total attendance of 4,394 persons (6,755 additional people purchased memberships bringing the total to 11,149). [Thanks to Stu Segal and Farah Mendlesohn for correcting my previous post which incorrectly said almost 12,000 people attended] Because of how spread out it is and the number of activities going on at any one time, it did not seem overly crowded. According to those who know, there were over 600 writers in attendance. These writers mingled with the fans, making themselves available to them as well as to each other.

Unfortunately, because I was so busy, I did not manage to get any writing done. I have not added a single word to Dragonverse Origins for over two weeks. And, I'm not sure when I will get back to it. There are some things I learned at WorldCon that I need to attend to first. The reasoning behind this is that after it was all said and done, I've learned that I have a lot of work ahead of me if I want to be viewed as a "professional" writer. I'm a member of SFWA (based on my sales) and I sell a fair number of books. But, I have not buckled down and spent the time I need to spend on putting the finishing touches on my novels. I'm weak in the promotion area as well. WorldCon has shown me that after a writer finishes a novel, gets a cover, and has the manuscript edited, there is still much work to be done. I need to pay more attention to that phase of my writing. I am, in the words of several authors, not just a writer, but a publisher as well. It's time I start acting like one.

WorldCon also helped me decide on where to focus my future blog posts. I learned that traditionally published writers (even those who were once self-published) tend to have a warped view of how a self-published author should produce and market their work. I got the general (but not always) feeling that many traditionally published authors have forgotten that they were once an unknown. Everyone starts off as an unknown author. In the past, you would gain a reputation and hone your skills as a writer by publishing in magazines until you signed a contract with a publisher. These days, anyone can upload a book--and therein lies the problem. The number of bad stories out there continues to give self-published authors a bad name.

I intend on altering the focus of this blog to self-publishing. Next week's post will be the starting point. If you know someone who is looking to self-publish, please tell them about this blog and ask them to join my mailing list. If you send me an email question, I will respond--I promise.

I attended WorldCon with a friend of mine--a member of our local writers group. Andi Lawrencovna (her pen name) has written a very interesting post on her take of her time at WorldCon. I encourage you to read it.