Writing: What's Science Fiction & Fantasy Cons Got to Do With It?


Last weekend, I attended ConCarolinas in Charlotte, NC. This always feels like my home conference since I've attended this one many times over the years. Afterall, it's almost in my back door.

Which reminds me of a question I received when I appeared on WriteOn SC, a writing podcast hosted by my friend and fellow member of South Carolina Writers' Association, Kasie Whitener. Kasie has known me for quite a few years now, and she asked me why I go to science fiction and fantasy conferences (SFFCons) to promote my books. 

It's a fair question. The speculative fiction genre offers a lot of opportunities to meet and talk with potential fans through SFFCons. People who love the genre flock to these weekend events. Granted, not all of them are readers, but a large percentage do love to read. These cons offer programming for all aspects of enjoying the genre including discussions about movies, TV, books, and comic books. There are cosplayers and workshops on making your own cosplay. And there's always people who go for the gaming and never leave the games area. Many SFFCons offer a writing track, too, where hopeful writers can learn from those who came before them.

In other words, it's a specific audience that enjoys, and often reads, speculative fiction. They are dedicated fans of the genre. 

As far as I know, the speculative fiction arena offers something many of the other genres don't--events with potential readers built in. And there are a LOT of cons. From April to September, you can find an SFFCon within a few hours of you almost every weekend. That's a lot of fans.

Of course, that's not the only reason I attend SFFCons. They are fun. I have established friendships among the other authors, and we enjoy each other. They're part of my writing tribe. I learn from them, laugh with them, help promote and encourage them, and just share life. And I get to meet new fans and old fans while doing this. 

My simple answer to Kasie that day was, "That's where the fans are." It's much more than that, but it's difficult to put the experience into words. Yes, I get the irony of an author struggling to find the right words, but trust me, you have to experience a few cons before you get it.

My next event is Imaginarium in Louisville, KY.  Unlike ConCarolinas, this is a hybrid SFFCon and writing conference. And the people are wonderful. I can't wait to head that way in a few weeks. If you're in the Louisville, KY area and enjoy writing, it's a great time to check it out. Even if you don't write in the speculative fiction genre, you can learn something.

By the way, I'll be on the Star Chamber Podcast on June 15 talking with Stephen Zimmerman about Imaginarium and a special character development workshop I'm teaching this year. Watch for the link to this podcast in the coming week.

Until then, I'll see you in the pages of a book!

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