Thursday, June 6, 2013

Convention Connection

by Allison Pang

I'm not sure there's a lot I can add to the posts this week that hasn't already been said, so this is going to be relatively short and sweet.

When it comes to conventions/workshops/panels/etc?

Don't be a dick.

(As Wil Wheaton so kindly puts it.)

I've heard convention horror stories (and been in a few) and I guess the thing to come away with is you don't always know who people are or what they're going to accomplish.

Burning bridges before they've had a chance to be built is foolish. Snubbing someone because they don't have an agent or are still working on their first manuscript can very easily come back to bite you in the ass months or years later.

And people can have long memories.

That being said, the truth of most conventions is that despite all the panels and workshops you attend or are
on, the majority of the networking getting done is at the bar.

I know plenty of people on budgets who crash conventions on a regular basis and simply set up shop at a table.

Doesn't mean they're drinking non-stop (although some do, perhaps) but the bar or lounge area is where people go for food or to work or unwind. Guards get dropped and all of a sudden you're talking to creative types about all sorts of topics.  (A note of caution, however - gossip can run rampant. Be careful of the information you're sharing and who you're sharing it with. A half-heard comment can be on Twitter in a matter of seconds, so be mindful of that.)

I've discovered a host of kindred spirits at cons who ended up being crit partners, beta readers, editors, project kickers and just name it.  And in a business where contacts can be so very key to success, networking is an absolute must.

So does this mean you should ambush the editor you've been stalking and pitch?

Absolutely not.

But it *is* a chance for you to chat him or her up and get a feel for who they are and what they're looking for - and to help make an impression. That way if you're submitting to the slush pile later, you can mention that riveting conversation the two of you had about Dr. Who or ballet or dolphin love triangles.

Don't be afraid to say hi - you never know what might come of it. :)

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