This post first appeared at the Novelists, Inc. blog.
On October 14th, I was on a train from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. so I could attend CapClave, sponsored by the Washington Science Fiction Association.
It’s a fairly small conference if you’re used to behemoths like Dragon Con. CapClave usually features two tracks of panels and one of readings, as well as some special events and of course a dealers’ room. You might well ask me why I might want to attend, as a professional; what benefit do I gain? Why don’t I go to DragonCon, instead?
I know myself. I know that I am somewhat of an introvert (like many writers) and will have a better time at a smaller con. I will be more relaxed, and find it easier to interact with smaller groups of people. It’s more fun for me to network in this more intimate atmosphere, and that’s a benefit, as people can sense when you’re uncomfortable.
Aside from meeting new people, there will be a lot of other authors and readers there whom I have met before. Many of them, I only see at conventions; some of them, I only see at CapClave. Attending each year means I can keep up the connection. Some authors and readers attend several conventions a year, for instance a selection of those held up and down the East Coast of the United States. Over a period of time, familiarity lends a pleasant sense of coziness to these events, and friendships develop. All networking needn’t lead to friendship, but it’s a nice bonus.
In addition, traveling to conventions can establish a beachhead in another city. For example, if should I want to give a reading at a bookstore in the D.C. area, and perhaps request some publicity for it, I could contact CapClave organizers, WSFS members, or regular attendees who live in the area. I wouldn’t be a random emailer; they would know my name and face. For Boston, there are the organizers and attendees of Boskone and Arisia. And so on, for quite a few large cities. In return, I can provide the same service for Philadelphia (and have done so).
It’s the circle of (convention) life! Cue music.