A writer's lesson: what he learned at a sci fi convention which wasn't on the schedule
Last night I sat in the con suite with C.J. Henderson, who’s written over 70 books. I got his “sage” and humorous advice on the business of being an author. Earlier that evening I sat in the lobby with Allen Wold, who runs a wonderful series of writers’ workshops at cons. When I first began getting serious about getting published a few years ago, I attended my first seminar with him at Capclave. The next year I did again. Here at Ravencon, he asked me to fill in as an editorial panelist. I apparently made the “cut.” Allen told me afterward that I can serve on his panels again in the future. That’s high praise. (I’ve also loved being able to help other aspiring writers on their writing journey.) My conversation with him in the lobby was great and encouraging.
Those two conversations were an education in and of themselves, but they weren't my only informal opportunities at this con. On Friday night I attended a party and hung out with Kevin J. Anderson, while he was schmoozing with another author or two. (Kevin and his wife Rebecca were the guest-of-honor for the con.) Kevin’s a very prolific bestselling author (he’s written 120 novels - a third of which have been or are bestsellers) and he’s an author who really understands the business and admits the publishing environment is getting tougher for professional writers. One of things we talked about is that full-time authors, without a day job that offers benefits, pay a fortune for medical insurance here in the U.S. This issue was doubly poignant this weekend as the sixteen year-old son of Kevin’s friend, bestselling author Dave (Wolverton) Farland had an accident that has left him in critical condition and a coma, but thankfully he’s recovering. However, the medical bills are likely to be staggering. Kevin always advises new authors not to give up their day job (not only because making money writing is very difficult, which believe me is very true) to pay the bills and have affordable medical insurance. Here’s a link about Dave’s son Ben: http://www.gofundme.com/BensRecovery.
I even picked up a very good bit of advice schmoozing with Rebecca Moesta, who uses Square to handle credit card sales at their book booths. Her recommendation’s sold me. I’ve a booth at a local book fair next month, where I’ll be selling my two books (unlike Kevin and Rebecca’s multitude available at Ravencon), so I’ll be buying my Square tomorrow. So, having drafted this article, I thought, great… last day, a few more sessions and I’ll have accomplished a lot, then time to go home. Yet… there was one thing I had not sought advice on and Kevin and Rebecca were doing a 10 a.m. Sunday morning panel on Cross Media Collaboration with Rob Baldur, creator of Erfworld, and musician Jonah Knight, both of whom I’ve come to know at cons. So, there I was… the only person in the audience and after ten minutes it looked like the group was going to end the session without discussing the topic… So... I asked if I could pose a question and told them about my cross media writing experiment, Dhr2believe. I asked what they thought. In all honesty, I’d discussed this with Rob Baldur privately at earlier cons… so he was familiar with my idea. The panelist talked about the challenges for me since I don’t have a platform, an audience who would be clamoring to pay to participate. Yet they all seemed to really love the idea and their thoughts are giving me ideas about how I might build that audience one day.
So, why do I share these as final thoughts from having been at Ravencon? Because, I believe, if you put yourself out there, you can be at the right place at the right time. I could easily have decided not to sit down with C.J. Henderson or Allen Wold (who that first afternoon remembered me and invited me to join his workshop panel, or found myself the only one in an audience of people who had become my captive audience. Oh, and the moderator of that session is the publisher of a small press and asked me to friend her on Facebook. That’s a nice piece of networking, too. So, you never know until you try, and, of course, try again and again until you succeed… That’s a writer’s lesson, the challenge each faces as they, and now I, seek to sell my stories. Always an uphill battle, but I'm going to continue to dare to believe and we'll see what happens...
- D.H. Aire
Author of Highmage's Plight (available on Amazon)