Confessions of a Conference Junkie

- by Elaine Isaak

Okay, so I have three days right now between the Novelists, Inc conference on the beach, and the World Fantasy Convention in San Diego.  Yes, the time for denial is over:  I am a conference junkie.  Every year I think I should cut back on the number of cons I attend. . .and every year I can’t decide which one, exactly, I would cut.  Some of you probably don’t get this–writers are basically introverts and some shudder at the thought of working the cons.

Conferences come in an extraordinary variety from tiny to vast, from genre-specific to general, from writer’s-only events to fan extravaganzas.  I have a con I attend where I’m one of the better-known pro’s.  It’s a great event for building my audience among readers.  World Fantasy is my must-do to visit with the network of other fantasy writers, editors and professionals.  And our own Ninc event is quickly becoming the go-to con for in-depth information about publishing that you just can’t get anywhere else.  If you were following our Twitter stream at #ninc you know what I’m talking about!  (If not, go check it out–I’ll wait).

A friend noted during the conference that I was writing feverish notes in my notebook (yep, the old-fashioned kind!) and also jotting things on one of the little hotel-provided fliers as well.  From each con, I end up with a list of things to do when I get home, inspired by the panels I attend and the people I talk to.  This year’s Ninc resulted in 27 items, mostly pertaining to reviewing my contract details, taking care of online profiles and snooping around some new promotional ideas.  Then in the airport, thanks in part to conference guest Don Wiesberg of Penguin Young Readers Group, I also had a great idea about how to revise this YA novel I’m working on.

From World Fantasy, my action list usually has a bunch of story ideas and things to consider for my works-in-progress.  I’ll write them in bold in the center of my notebook pages if a panel triggers a connection for me.  I especially like the fantasy conventions when I’m staying in the con hotel with no roommate except my laptop.  When a conversation about books leads me to my own sparks, I can slip back to my room and get to work right then!

What’s your favorite con?

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