August 19, 2008
I am now back from Gen Con and this convention proved to me just how much effective convention networking (aka "schmoozing") is to an author's career. Last year, when I first started really doing this thing called "networking" I was very much like a Great Dane puppy - cute, awkward and all over the place. I did not realize just how much until I came back to this same convention and had a much more professional spin on things.
Last year, one editor, whom I really wanted to impress, just smiled and nodded at me. He handed me his business card and suggested I email him with details. In particular, I was trying to sell him the Grants Pass anthology. It was a polite couple of emails and that was that.
This year, when I was talking about the sale of Grants Pass and my search for an agent, he flat out asked me why I had not submitted my manuscripts to [Big Name] publishing company. When I stated that I did not have an agent, he shook his head and told me I did not need one. That I clearly had the credits to my name now. He gave me his business card and wrote the name of the person he wanted me to contact and told me to make sure I sent in the two manuscripts I had just discussed with him once I had the proper format, etc...
The difference in attitude was night and day. You see that a lot at these conventions. People in the publishing industry are often aloof, condescending or blasé towards you because they are inundated with SO MANY people who want to be 'published writers' that it is just crazy. So, they are patient with a polite smile until they realize who you are, who you've written for and what you could possibly do for them. Once they figure out you are a "real" writer, their attitudes change and they become a lot more engaged with you. That comes with how you portray yourself.
And, may I just say, I get a thrill out of watching people turn over their business cards to write down their real email addresses for me to make sure I get in contact with them.
By the way, the professional business card with the correct contact information on it is like gold at a convention like this. Business cards fly left and right at conventions. They are practically a professional mating ritual of editor/publisher and author. I usually collect the card and then write on it why I am collecting it. It would be something as simple as "publisher" or "author for TEoP" to something as complex as instructions on who to send what manuscript to. After a convention like Gen Con, I am hard pressed to remember why I wanted a card from a person I did not know personally.
Work-wise, if I get even half of the work I talked about doing with various RPG companies during the convention, I will be so busy I will not see the light of day for months. This is a good thing. I adore working for Margaret Weis Productions and Otherworld Creations and I do have projects forthcoming from them but I would not mind branching out.
I have five definite pitches to give to various RPG companies ranging from the three person outfit to the big conglomerates and all five of these pitches I am excited for. Some more than others but all of them are very cool. One may include the creation of a whole fantasy setting for their RPG line. Talk about a challenge.
At the same time, September, I will be working on the next in a series. I have to say that Gen Con has been good for my creative side.
Despite how good Gen Con was, I am so glad to be home, in my own bed, and back to a normalized routine until next week. I did miss my kitties a lot. Matt did a good job of taking care of them and the house is in relatively good shape.