Why Do We Go to Conventions?
From the Midnight Writers Podcast, Episode 5
Featuring Special Guest Kevin Ikenberry
Adapted by Brittany Thurman
Many writers find that attending conventions offer several advantages. Whether you are looking to network, find inspiration, or scope out your target audience, the conventions near you are a valuable resource.
If you want to meet other authors, small press publishers, agents, or editors, you need to attend conventions. You will find people with similar interests and who are facing similar struggles, people you may not be able to find in your day job. Other authors of all levels, from beginner to professional, attend these conventions, also looking to network.
If you are an introvert, it may seem challenging to step outside your comfort zone and approach people, but it will pay off! Many people that attend conventions are also looking to network and are very approachable and friendly. They are often willing to talk about how to sell a book. You might even consider having an author table—it is sometimes easier to be approached, making conversation with those who show interest in what you have. Prolonged exposure to the people at the tables near you can make also conversation easier and more natural.
Most conventions include a social time after the convention hours at the bar, also known as “Bar Con.” Even if you don’t drink, you can make use of this more relaxed environment to make connections. This more social environment allows real friendships to be established, and is a place where people let their guards down and act natural. No one is trying to sell a book. You can take advantage of this unique opportunity even if you cannot make it to the convention itself. Step outside of your comfort zone! You never know who you might meet or what might happen at Bar Con.
Meet Your Audience
You don’t have to restrict yourself to writing conventions—attending topic conventions, such as the different Comic Cons, is a helpful way to meet your audience. You can gain exposure and get your name out to your readers while also finding out what they are and are not interested in. Even if a convention isn’t geared toward your writing genre, you can still attend and get your name out there. Discussing new story ideas with the potential audience allows you to test and refine them. If people show interest in your stories or ideas, you can probe to find out what piqued their interest.
Finding Inspiration and Motivation
Many of the Midnight Writers find inspiration and motivation to write at conventions. First, the conversations you have when networking or talking to your audience can get you excited to write and find the motivation to go forward and keep writing. If people are excited about something you have not written yet, it can give you the energy to actually write it in the future. Another way conventions can provide motivation is through the panels. There are often authors who discuss aspects of writing and give advice, so you can learn new ideas and techniques. You might learn about other cool events going on in the writing community, as well. Take notes at these panels! You might find yourself leaving a convention with a really strong boost to continue writing.
Kevin’s Top Tips:
- Always have a plan. You can get the brochure or program information ahead of time; it is usually easily available online. Plan where you want to go and what you want to get out of the event.
- Do something different. Throw in a panel that’s outside of your normal focus. If you are a science fiction person, sneak into a fantasy panel. You will find that struggles transcend genres, and you can learn something to improve your own writing.
If you are serious about your writing, you need to go to conventions. So, get into action! Look up the next convention near you. Start here, with some of our favorite Colorado Springs/Denver area conventions:
GalaxyFest (link to http://www.galaxyfest.org/)–medium, less focus on writing
StarFest (link to http://starfestdenver.com/)—bigger, less focus on writing
AnomalyCon (link to https://www.anomalycon.com/)—smaller, big focus on writing
Denver Comic Con(lnk to http://denvercomiccon.com/)–-bigger, less focus on writing
MileHiCon (link to http://www.milehicon.org/)—smaller, big focus on writing
And just in case you can’t get enough, here are some Colorado Springs/Denver area writing conferences, as well:
Pikes Peak Writers Conference
Castle Rock Writers
Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers