Whew. Even as voracious a fanboy as myself can start feeling “con’d-out” after a while. It’s been a non-stop run of flesh-pressing, chatting over drinks and getting to bed entirely too late.
First, there was Book-Expo-America (BEA), a sprawling conference that takes up pretty much all of the sprawling mini-city that is the Jacob Javits center. It’s more of a traditional publishing layout, with a lot of publishers and related services for a host of non-fiction topics from cookbooks to “how to train your cat to pick you up at the airport,” which is cool, but not really my bag. One of my hopes is to diversify my writing career in genre, and I got to spend a lot of time meeting up with comic book publishers in the hopes to laying the groundwork for breaking into writing comic books someday. I also got to meet up with some of the sales and publicity higher ups at Penguin. This is actually pretty important. With a company as big as Penguin, you have to be winning the hearts and minds of your own publisher. They are putting out a ton of books every year, and if you want them to be putting their best efforts behind yours, you want them to know your face and like you.
The bottom line at BEA was that it gave my faith in traditional publishing a needed shot in the arm. Walking through the rows past slick booth after booth after booth, it became clear to me that there are still billions of dollars at work in this supposedly dying industry. Anyone who is writing print publishing’s obituary might want to hold off until they’ve gone to BEA.
Then it was home for all of 30 seconds, and on to Balticon, Baltimore’s main annual
convention. It’s got a good mix of gaming, “new media” (which is a fancy way of saying “folks who disseminate genre fiction, commentary or related stuff primarily over the Internet instead of print”), gaming and costumes.
It was a veritable schmoozefest. I got to rub elbows with new media mogul Mur Lafferty. I survived a brush with Hurricane Sigler. I sat on a panel with Compton-Crook winner James Knapp and listened to Jack Campbell give a reading. I got to nerd out in the games room and beat my agent best 2 out of 3 in San Juan. I drank and talked and talked and talked and talked and got to bed in the wee hours only to be woken each morning by the cursed biological alarm clock that the military instilled in me (which can’t have been fun for my roomie and wingman, Chris Evans). I got to see John Anealio’s kickass concert and then he interviewed me for his awesome podcast, Functional Nerds (that should be broadcast in July).
It was a fabulous con, and I feel like I did a good job about getting the word out about my upcoming series and stirring up interest. But conversations with Scott Sigler and Paolo Bacigalupi reminded me that 9 months is plenty of time for people to forget who I am and that I’ve got a novel on the way. They also reminded me that first week sales are critical to a writer’s success and that the value of my networking time will really start to show about a month before the first novel’s release date.
That thought depresses me, but whatever. Business aside, I was a fan long before I was a pro, and I groove on seeing people in the hallway in costume, racking up points in the game room, and cornering my favorite authors (sorry Paolo) to gush about how awesome their most recent book was. Cons may be work for me, but they’re also a vacation from work, and that’s one of the best things about trying to make a living in this business.
Sadly, play time is over. It’s back in uniform as I muster for active duty. I’m hoping to get writing done during my watch stand downs/crew rest periods, but I’m not too hopeful. That said, the only thing I enjoy as much as writing/con-going is military service, so it’s just a different kind of awesome.
A little over a month into my new life. So far, so amazing.