I’ll post some photos a little later on, but first, my report! Sort of. It’s more a rambling sort of commentary on the experience.
For me, the business is social and, I guess, the social is business. This conference, however social it might be, is for me much more about business, at least in the long run. I make contacts, connections, re-connections; I speak on panels not only for the fun of it but so I introduce myself to more people, some of whom might be interested in my books, or have a friend to whom they’ll recommend one of my books. That said, if it wasn’t lots of fun, I wouldn’t do it.
I enjoy the constant stimulation of a convention, but it’s also pretty exhausting, more mentally than physically. I was really glad my friend and I traveled on Thursday. It meant that we could be leisurely on Friday morning, before the convention officially began. We had breakfast, lolled around in the hotel’s whirlpool, and I went and worked out. I’d intended to work out on Sunday as well, but in the end my schedule didn’t allow it because I attended a couple of special events.
This downtime was invaluable because I was heavily scheduled with panels Friday evening. I had forgotten that this year, the convention was experimenting with 75 minute panels instead of 60 minutes, so having back-to-back panels was consequently more exhausting. My third panel of the evening was at 11:00 pm, which for me is pretty late. That said, they all went well, and as usual, I was able to coast on adrenaline, as I often do at cons (the trick is winding down!). And somehow, in among all the panels, I managed to wander around enough to encounter a number of friends.
For instance, Friday afternoon, I was pleased to have a chat with Nisi Shawl, whom I will miss seeing at WisCon this year, since I won’t be able to attend. She had come to Arisia for the first time to take part in the Carl Brandon Awards presentation, which I attended on Sunday afternoon. I got to talk to Margaret Ronald a couple of times, too, which was lovely, since we’d barely exchanged two sentences at the last convention we both attended. I saw my friend Jen Pelland for the first of several very short encounters; though we never got a chance to talk for long, two of her short stories were recommended in the “Sexuality in SF” panel, one of them “Captive Girl” and the other a newer story published in Apex Online, so it felt like I’d seen her more than I had. So much of a convention, for me, happens in brief, passing encounters. Often, nothing significant is said, but it still feels social, like I’m renewing a social tie.
I am not a huge party person, since the big ones are usually late at night, but I stopped by two different parties hosted by erotica publishers, Circlet Press and Lethe Press. Though I’ve known Circlet Press publisher Cecilia Tan for many years, I’ve never actually sold anything to her press, though I have sold things to anthologies she’s edited for other publishers. The publisher of Lethe, Steve Berman, is in my writers’ workshop, which hasn’t met very much lately due to outside factors, so it was lovely to see him, as well as editor Connie Wilkins, whom I hadn’t seen since BEA. Melissa Scott was at the Lethe Party, and contributed my favorite statement of the convention, “Tycho Brahe did have a silver nose, but he lost it in a duel.”
And if you’re wondering, yes I did talk about The Duke & The Pirate Queen. Quite a lot. I even talked about The Moonlight Mistress a little, and carried it to some of my panels (appropriate ones) along with The Duke. I would mention the title and sometimes give a very, very abbreviated description of the book when I was introduced. Early on Friday, I put a selection of postcards and bookmarks in the freebie area, and if I chatted with someone after a panel or in the hallway, after a couple of people requested my business card, I began to remember to offer them.
For the most part, though, talking about my books was on an individual basis. I talked to one person at a time, and answered their questions about it. I gave free copies to a few people, not reviewers but a couple of friends, and the others to people I’d met and liked over the course of the con, usually through serving on a panel with them. I hope I’ll get to see some of them again, and will be seeking out their books. For me, that’s important, too. It’s about selling books, sure, but it’s also about meeting new people with really great things to say.
So check out these folks whom I met for the first time at Arisia! And check out their books!
Kelley Armstrong, who gave some great tips on writing and revising when you’re on a very tight schedule, which I think will be extremely useful to me in future.
Nancy Holzner – four panels together is a real bonding experience! I bought one of her books, Deadtown.
Seanan McGuire, who’s a fun person all around. I learned a lot just from listening to her in the one panel we had together, and was glad we got to chat more later on.
Finally, Mark L. Van Name, who writes for Baen Books, had invaluable information to impart about the hows and whys of a hardcover to mass market paperback publishing schedule, which has been a part of his career for quite a while. I knew a little about that, but not in such depth. I think it was very useful for that panel’s audience, as well.