I decided to go to the 2013 Salt Lake Comic Con because of the potentially valuable lessons being offered in panels about being an author. It had nothing to do with wanting to discuss my angst earlier in the week caused by the portrayal of Frank Herbet’s world in the Dune Mini-Series… Or my love for masterpieces like Neil Gaiman’s Sandman Series… Or my life-long affair with science fiction… I was going to learn, dammit. Parting the 40k+ strong sea of geeks taught me these lessons about attending the Con, about becoming an author of fiction, and about the community itself.
1. Con is a proper noun. e.g. The Con. Cons. Going to Cons.
2. There are countless benefits for creating stories in novel form first, but if you have something that must be a film, a comic, a graphic novel, or a video game, find a way to make it into one.
3. Getting to the Con early on a Saturday is vital. Luckily, this crowd stays up late and 9:30 was sufficient( I imagine next year will be different).
4. Choose your panels wisely and get to them early. Not all the rooms have space for everyone who waits in line. It’s also good to be in a space where you can actually see the speakers.
5. The publishing industry is in flux and many of the old rules are dissolving but the ability to jump through flaming hoops is still one of the things that will make you a successful author.
6. Expect pizza, french fries, soda, candy, and other common geek staples. If you want healthy food, eat before you get there or leave the venue for sustenance. I’m a recovering junk food addict (grew up in Hershey) who is now a Yogi. I scarfed a Galactic BLT that was mostly composed of fry sauce on my way to a panel and paid for it for hours.
7. The Con is much more than a cosplay event where you can get your picture taken with The Highlander and Hercules. It’s a networking arena for illustrators, video game developers, inkers, authors, filmmakers, special effects artists, clothing makers etc.. Think Outdoor Retailer for the fiction industry.
8. Building an audience is the most important thing an author can do to promote their work.
9. Everyone in this crowd is passionate about something, whether they’re in costume or not.
10. If you have kids, make sure you have a plan for when you are separated from them. This crowd is like slow-moving lava and there are distractions everywhere. Most of the activity over the intercom was coordinating scattered parties.