I have to admit, I was very worried about this trip. In addition to traveling outside of the country alone (which I’ve never done), I was worried that I would feel like an outsider, since I am as of yet unpublished. I’d sort of begun to look at this as a scouting mission… take a look around, go to panels and learn about things, and just basically get a feel for how the convention works.
I’m happy to say that my fears were mostly unfounded. The traveling wasn’t too bad (despite the fact that it was FREEZING up in Toronto all weekend). I only tried to pay with American money once. (Oops.) And the people in Canada definitely live up to the “nice” stereotype. Had a group of teenagers approach me at the bus station and offer directions. Don’t see that often in the states… not with teenagers, anyways.
The convention itself was definitely an experience. For starters, I wasn’t expecting them to hand us all giant bags full of books after we got our badges. Most of the books are new releases by relatively unknown authors, so I’m very excited to give them a look. Wound up shipping them all back home, since by the end of the weekend I had 25 pounds of books, and there was no WAY I was fitting all that in my carry-on luggage. I attended a great many panels and learned a lot about many aspects of the industry and literary concepts, which was what I was hoping for in that department. Also got to meet Mercedes Lackey, whose books I have been reading since I was in Middle School. “The Elvenbane” by she and Andre Norton was one of my favorite books growing up, and Ms. Lackey was very excited to see my battered hardcover when I brought it to her to be signed.
I wasn’t sure what to expect as far as networking, since I don’t really have a finished product to shop around as of yet. I mostly viewed this as a chance to chat with people and try to make friends. Thankfully I’m pretty out-going so I didn’t have too much trouble. The ladies from Broad Universe in particular were very welcoming, especially Brenda Carre and Julia Dvorin. I had moments when I felt like I was on the outside looking in, but for the most part it was a joy to be able to sit and talk with so many wonderful, creative people. I wound up sitting in the hotel lobby for a good two hours chatting with Courtney Schafer on Friday about the agents, editors and the process of getting published. I haven’t had a chance to read her books yet, but I am looking forward to checking them out as soon as I can. The Saturday night book release parties were… interesting. I had been on the fence about going, but someone I respect deeply advised me to go, so I gathered my courage and did so. It was very crowded, very hot, and there was a LOT of booze. I did manage to chat with a few people, most notably Christian Klaver, who I had a wonderful conversation with about martial arts and how it can be utilized in speculative fiction.
I managed to meet up with Patrick Rothfuss for a brief interview which will be going up on Open the Fridge in the near future (just waiting on a few images and then I’ll be sending it off to my editor). Pat’s a very smart, funny man and it was great to be able to chat with him, even if it was in a professional capacity. (His voicemail message is hilarious.) Also spoke with Brandon Sanderson a couple times, though he was ridiculously busy so I tried not to bother him too much. As always, he was personable and ridiculously dedicated to his fans. About a year ago I posted on an AskReddit thread saying that I’d like to live in the world of “Way of Kings,” and he replied that he’d put me in the next book as a cameo. When I ran into him at the autograph signing on Friday night he enthusiastically told me what he had planned in that regard, much to my delight.
So, overall, I’d call this “scouting mission” a resounding success. I think the biggest takeaway for me was the autograph session. There were HUNDREDS of authors signing there on Friday night. I walked around and I thought to myself, “If they can all do this… I can, too.” I seemed to have gotten myself into the mindset that if the Big Four publishers rejected my books, I’d have no chance at getting published (outside of Amazon, anyway). The autograph signing opened my eyes to a huge world of smaller publishers which, for some reason, I’d blinded myself to.
I can do this. At the risk of sounding narcissistic, I AM good enough. In the meantime… back to work on Prayers to the Wind and a couple short stories (hopefully).