Alright, writing this soon after the writing conference for World Fantasy was done. Now, note that I came in a weird year, where it’s like a 1/5 of the size, so the 200 or so people (if that) was tiny. Colour your perceptions and what not that way.
Firstly, a cavaet – I had not truly realised how much of a writer conference this was. I had thought it was more of a mixed conference, sort of like Dragoncon but more focused. Nope. It’s VERY much a writer conference.
I went in and did 2 panels, which were fun to do. It was kind of cool to do them and talk about areas that I knew well (Small Presses and Medieval Combat) so it worked out well. Small Presses were weird too, since we swung back and forth a bit between what was really a small press especially with some authors like Wil Wight literally making more than some ‘small presses’ did.
So, some observations over the entire thing and some discussion.
Lack of Selfpub Panels / Workshops
Good lord, there was not a single workshop or panel for selfpub stuff. Like, nothing, except perhaps the small press discussion. This entire place was so geared towards traditional publishing (shorts and longer fiction) that it was rather surprising.
It’s also kind of worrying,s ince so many of the authors talked of sending work in and getting it rejected and basically having these drawers full of work that is just… doing nothing. It just feels off to me, but I guess that’s my own predujice.
It’s particularly telling though that there’s no dsicussion of the changes in the marketplace, how it’s affecting people – how huge audiobooks are and how they’re growing and changing. It’s a little sad, in a way, that so many authors are just caught, without an idea of how to get out.
On the other hand, that seems to be more of a younger person thing. I noticed a number of the older authors (older being 40+) who have had a career looking at options outside of trad pub, some even self-publishing already. Perhaps unable to get a new deal, perhaps wanting the flexibility I’m not sure, but it was fun talking to some of them.
And of course, there were those who were coming in new and who were realising, well, maybe selfpub was the way to go.
Not to say that trad pub is wrong, but it is such a gated entry; when it doesn’t have to be.
Lots of interesting craft posts, many of them discussing various genres and topics. I found some of them useful, some of them were kind of boring because I was well past the area. I did walk away with like 3 different ideas, one of which I think will be much, much easier to put into play.
Another is basically a Gothic Horror LitRPG. Which… yeah. That might be a real challenge to do.
Still, overall, the craft side was really fascinating to do.
What I do regret though was the lack of workshops which I often find much more useful. Having someone who I trust look at my actual work and rip it apart can be much more useful than hearing general talks I find.
I also found that the refrain of needing diversity really telling. When they had authors with different backgrounds, different viewpoints, the panels were so much better. Whether it was because all too often, the panellists had to talk about things they had no direct knowledge about (e.g. fiction from other countries); or were so closely tied into the western paradigm, they didn’t understand or chose to not speak of other options (e.g. non-hero journey plots and Asian/2 act, etc plots).
Frustrating, when you are sitting in the audience, knowing there are more options. But what can you do?
End of the day, I go to a lot of these conferences to network. In this case, being set in Monteral, I was hoping that I’d meet a few more Canadian based authors, especially those in Toronto. And I think I managed that, though we shall see.
It’d be good to meet other authors, though who knows how that will play out. I certainly did not think I hit it off with people there as much as I did/ do with other indie authors, but I still thik it wasn’t bad.
Anyway, just some thoughts about conferences. Probably have another post for 20books when I am done with that.
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