Wednesday, September 05, 2012
More Thoughts on ChiCon 7--and What I Didn't Say
I promised I'd write more about ChiCon today. I still feel a bit of con withdrawal, which may be a sign I should start attending more of the local conventions.
I attended panels on designing fantasy animals/aliens, designing professional covers (which was less useful than I thought it would be), why fantasy dominates SF, climate change and society (which was more about dealing with climate change than the implications for society), space medicine, quantum physics and magical realism, medical myths and errors, committing series, pseudoscience, and realistic spacecraft. It sounds like a lot, but it was spread out over four days. I was also on panels about the future of food (a pretty lively discussion) and self-publishing (more about this one later). I read from Twinned Universes at the BroadUniverse Rapid-Fire Reading.
While I was doing all of that, my husband and son spent the weekend bumming around downtown Chicago and wearing each other out. Alex has his own camera now, so I can reclaim mine.
One of the reasons we spent the weekend downtown was so I could participate in some of the nighttime activities. We were in the overflow hotel, so I didn't stay out too late. However, I did get to see the Masquerade on Saturday night and the Hugo Awards on Sunday. By "seeing the Hugo Awards," I mean I was in the same room, so far back I had to watch it on the screen. Hey, at least that wasn't interrupted for falsely perceived copyright violations. To the left is a picture of the Best in Show costume (I think it's the Lady of the Lake); more pictures are posted on my Facebook author page.
I wound up selling three paper copies of my book and a single sale of each of my digital works. This is another good reason why I should attend more local cons.
My final act of ChiCon 7 was participating in a self-publishing panel. Besides me, there was one other self-published author and two editors from small publishing houses. They were clearly there with an agenda to present themselves as "value-added" and to downplay the pros of self-publishing. The other author and I were united in taking career advice from Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith. Meanwhile, the audience members (we filled the room; I wasn't expecting that on the last day of the con) wanted the nuts and bolts of self-publishing and promotion. I feel like I could have given them much more on that front. I also wish I'd told them more about the pros of self-publishing. I did manage to say that all authors are entrepreneurs, that our stories are our intellectual property, and that you really need IP lawyers, not agents, to handle contracts with publishers if you take that route. But there was so much more I could have said. I could have told them how knowing I had a home for every story inspires me to try new things and come up with fresh ideas. I could have said how I can finally lay some stories to rest instead of endlessly chasing perfection (because, of course, no publisher would ever touch a less-than-perfect book). I could have emphasized how it builds gumption to learn new skills and take charge of my writing career, to be active instead of passively sending out queries and waiting for rejection. Most of all, I could have said that when I first started attending conventions, they taught me "money flows to the author" as a way to avoid getting scammed. I now feel we need to update this for the 21st century; it should be "control flows to the author." I really wanted to use that line and am kicking myself now that I didn't use it in my closing statement.
At least I can say it here.