So, I've been thinking again, particularly because of an insightful comment by [personal profile] anghara

Here's what I was thinking: As newbie and wannabe writers, especially after workshops like Clarion and SHU, we're all sort of brainwashed into thinking that the reason for going to cons = meeting the right people to move up the publishing ladder. I could be wrong, but that's sort of my experience. Which is true, it could (and has) happened, but we do seem to miss another big point of going to cons, which was also brought up in [personal profile] pnh's post, and which I just understood.

Cons have interesting people at them, from fans to pro writers, and a lot of the time the best connections don't come from hawking your book, but by being personable around people. Case in point (and which [personal profile] anghara pointed out, that one is more likely to by a book by someone if there's a good memory attached to them, say, a good laugh or conversation, than a book by someone anonymous that one has never met. And then it all spreads by word of mouth, which can be very effective.

It's a different sort of self-marketing, and even more subversive type of guerrilla marketing. The product? Yourself, as yourself, and not hawking your book. Being friendly, and being noticed and interesting. This is something I'm not terribly good at (yet.) Ask me about my book, and I can tell you all kinds of stuff, but for me to be more proactive and think of something good to ask someone, I have a hard time. I dunno why. That's why I'm generally the quiet one in the crowd, because I can't think of stuff to say. This reminds me of Gatsby, and the way he spent years perfecting his persona, by strictly adhering to his list of things he wanted to learn to say and do. I don't think I'm quite that neurotic, but there's got to be a way to learn this stuff. Not that being quiet is always bad; one tends to learn things if one listens more than one talks, but quiet ones aren't necessarily that memorable.

It's been brought up elsewhere, but it's the idea of an author's image, especially now that we all have webpages and blogs and more means of being accessible. There's all kinds of advice as to, "Yes! Get a web page! Start wrangling fans now!" Which I have, sort of, but online and in person are sort of two different monsters.

Cons are worth going to. I've gotten something out of each of the ones I've been to.
And I do admit, the first con I went to, a tiny little local one, I panicked and ran after the first panel on the first night because I didn't know anyone or what to expect. I went back though, and ended up having dinner with Vernor Vinge, and now I look forward to seeing him at other cons. I guess the moral is live and learn and practice and these will get easier eventually.

So, last night I was a bit frustrated, but now there's a new way to look at things that'll make it a little easier to go to cons. And have fun, hopefully, instead of worrying about "business" the whole time. Business happens, it seems inevitable, but maybe it'd be better to make that a secondary or tertiary reason for attending rather than the primary one, because a lot of good things happen when you're not trying for them anyhow.

Eleven hours or so before I hit the road to Oakland. Wheee! Keep your fingers crossed I make it through LA traffic in a reasonable amount of time.


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