Monday, June 2, 2014

Convention Tips, Trolls and Tactics.

Here’s the thing. I don’t have tactics at a convention aside from the following:
Have a good time. You’re investing time and money at a convention. Try to make the most of them both.
Be a professional. You want to be seen as a professional in this industry, act the part. Let me clarify that. I don’t mean you have to wear a suit and tie and carry a briefcase. I mean treat the people you’re dealing with the same as you would in a work environment. That means be civil, be polite (There are exceptions on polite, we’ll get to those.) and remember that the people at that convention are there for the same reasons as you are. If it’s a professional convention, like World Fantasy or Thrillerfest, that often means the people you’re dealing with are the same ones who might, potentially, sign your book contracts sometime down the line. Want to know something? They’re likely to remember it if you get smashing drunk and dance your way across seven tables worth of appetizers and con programs. I tend to think they won’t remember those things with fondness.
Schedule your time loosely. You have fifteen things you want to do in fifteen hours? Good luck with that. An hour can go by very slowly or it can rip by so fast you’re barely aware that any time has passed. And when you’re in that hotel restaurant waiting for your food to come up and you’re engaged in a lively conversation, that time goes even faster.
Relax. Seriously. Stressing yourself out about when and how you’re going to meet with everyone does you no good. People are not drawn to want to talk to the silently fuming and horrendously tense. They just aren’t.
Plan ahead. If I have a scheduled reading at a convention, I try to make sure I have something to read. Sounds easy, right? I've had seasoned professionals running through the dealers' room desperate to find one of their books because they forgot to pack one, or gave away the copy they'd planned to read from. I used to write a new story for every convention where I had a reading, but eventually I realized I might get more mileage out of something that was either published or would be published in the near future.

On the subject of Trolls:

They are everywhere. I tend to think most trolls are very small-minded bullies who get their perceived power from the fact that, for the weekend of the convention, they can cause other people to suffer more than they do in their lives.

They are cowards dressing themselves as bullies, or they are simply thoughtless, useless individuals.
The plethora of “men” who harass women never ceases to infuriate me. I won’t name names, but I know a rather large cadre of gentlemen who feel the same way I do and who have made it a point to let ladies know that if men are causing them troubles, they should report the incident. Not to the con administrators, who because of the sheer volume of crisis that pop up at these things may or may not be able to immediately assist, but to them or a number of others who will gladly stand guard against the trolls. I have also watched at least one of those gents whittle a troll down into a weeping puddle using nothing but words and a properly enraged attitude.

Unfortunately, no matter how much we might wish otherwise, trolls are here to stay. I am happy to see new policies going into place at several conventions that will, hopefully, help cull the population.
And let’s be clear here, there are plenty of types of trolls. Most of them are annoying and little more. That said, I still don’t like them.

One of my least favorite types (the absolute pinnacle of swinedom remains for the sexual predators) is the “professional” troll.  These are individuals who claim that they are in the industry. They might be published authors (self-published and making sure to give that title a bad name) or they might be publishers of the small-press variety (most of the big houses wouldn’t consider hiring or keeping these buffoons, trust me) who shill their works, make offers to publish newer authors, offer any kind of editing service that requires a large output of money from the same. I know that there are legitimate editing services out there. I also know that there are a lot of people just waiting to take advantage of the overly eager newcomer to the field. Most of them are aggressively cheerful, and reek of desperation. Here there be tigers. Approach with extreme caution and get a second opinion from somebody else before seriously considering the services offered.

Yeah, see my list of tactics up above? Same thing. I will add one more proviso. Decide how much you’re willing to spend and stick to it. It’s very easy to fun yourself over the cool stuff you can get at a convention. If you MUST absolutely have it, and it is out of your range, wait until Sunday and practice the fine art of haggling. If it sells before Sunday, you can probably get it online. If it’s there on Sunday and weighs more than five pounds, the odds are the dealers don’t want to carry it back home anyway.

Included at no extra charge are a couple of my favorite costumes from Dragon*con a few years ago. Yes, I will be attending Dragon*con this year. You should try to make it if you can; it’s a lot of fun. Of course, there are a lot of trolls there. That’s always the case with massive conventions.

The CREEPER: In this case a young lady dressed as the usually male character, but the costume was flawless ad her enthusiasm was infectious. 

 The RED SKULL complete with the COSMIC CUBE (Or as it's called in the movies THE TESSERACT) In the second picture, the ever-sneaky JACK SPARROW managed a quick photo-bomb. 

And because I like the picture, here's one Christopher Golden, me, and Tim Lebbon at last year's World Fantasy Convention in Brighton, England. What do we have in common besides the snazzy duds? Why, that would be the ALIEN books we've worked on as a loose trilogy and coming out from Titan Books


  1. Great pics! LOVE DragonCon! Can't wait to get back to Atlanta.

  2. Love that classy picture. The perfect red hue compliments the tesseract perfectly. ;)

    A nice post and a good heads up/warning.