This blog post is by Genre Underground writer M.D Kenning, author of The Fall of House Nemeni and the newly released, Mandatory Paradise. This stop on the Road To World Con takes us on a slight detour to another huge yearly convention: GenCon.
I am still recovering from what is labeled “The Best Four Days in Gaming” and I will probably be recovering my sanity (and restoring my sleep meter) sometime this week. Although there are authors there (Brandon Sanderson was the guest of Honor) this is not a Con as primarily literature focused as other conventions. I can, however, highly recommend it to those that read or write e books for the same reason as many other conventions: connections.
Whereas other cons focus on panels or meeting authors or other celebrities, Gencon focuses on events that you interact in. Be it RPG’s, LARP’s, CCG’s, or board games for four days you are at a table with other people. Although you are gaming during this time there are plenty of down times when you are just chatting with your fellow gamers, both old friends and new ones. This is the perfect time to grab some twitter handles of people who have actually met you, and have some of the same interests as you!
As a writer, I did an experiment. I did a promo day on amazon but I did not promote it at all on blog, twitter, facebook on any of the normal avenues. Instead, I mentioned it in passing after games, said something to people cosplaying as Mistcloaks, even talked about it to a GM after a great Doctor Who game was run. I wanted to see how it did with word of mouth alone. That was strong enough to make it launch in the top 40 of Epic Fantasy before the night was done and I find that very interesting. It also seemed to have gotten people to give the book a chance after the sale was done too.
As a reader it’s a great way to not only connect with the author’s or panels there, but to find out small published and self-published books. Chances are if you enjoyed gaming with someone at the table you might like their perspective enough to try one of their books. It’s also a great place to get recommendations from other readers if you like genre’s like fantasy, sci-fi, and horror. That person dressed up as the Predator or the cast of Firefly might have some great ideas for books of the genre they cared enough about to make a costume for it.
Another good time to connect with people is an activity that in other circumstances is not very social … when shopping! Gencon is renowned for people only buying passes to go into the dealer rooms, and spending the whole time buying stuff or playing demos. When your friends are picking up goggles or pocket watches for their next steam punk costume that might be a time to talk to other people about that small press steam punk book you like, or finding out what novels others are reading now.
My personal time there involved many sit down RPG sessions (which have plenty of times to talk to people and connect with them), a LARP (lots of down time at the beginning and end and a brief conversation with Will Wheaton in the lobby), a huge fancy dinner with 400 close friends for a CCG and many trips to the dealer room. Almost as much time was catching up with people I have met all over the country for a decade from gaming. Those connections are what I love most about Gencon, and why even after I move to the Pacific Northwest later this year I will still make as many trips out to Gencon to renew those connections.
At it’s heart, that’s the best things about conventions – the people you spend time with there.