Sasquan post, obligatory

It’s been an interesting week and a half. School starts this Tuesday, but I didn’t have a job lined up yet as of ten days ago (and the spousal unit was getting worried about that fact). The septic system had a pump die, needing replacement. And Sasquan, the World Science Fiction Convention that was being held in Spokane this year was fast approaching. The latter normally wouldn’t mean much, except that this year I had been nominated for the John W. Campbell award for best new SF writer, and my publisher had encouraged me to go.

I was gluing the PVC pipe in the septic together when the phone rang with a call from a principal asking if I could come in for an interview the following morning. I could. So in about 36 hours I went from septic-tank diving and unemployed to employed and attending an international award convention as a nominee. Upon coming back, the specifics of the job have changed, so now (30 Aug 2015) I’m both a part-time long term sub and a part-time regular employee of the school district, both as a teacher.

Yes, it is indeed a strange world I live in.

So, about Sasquan and the Hugo (and Campbell-not-a-Hugo) awards….

I wasn’t sure what to expect. I certainly didn’t expect being totally ignored, but that’s largely what happened. No offers of being on panels. No interviews. Nobody to introduce me. No packet available that was supposed to be ready for me. No open attacks on me. No large shows of support for the puppies. (Some background on the puppies here: http://sfauthor.net/burning-down-the-house/ ; I was a “rabid puppy” nominee. Five second recap: the insiders worked the nominations and voting in back rooms and parties for years, and didn’t like it when an outsider did the same thing, out in the open, and better, shutting them out of a lock on the awards). Normally new writers are loaded up with panels and shown around and introduced to folks. For me and most of the non-TOR-books nominees? Nothing. So I wandered around, watched, listened, talked to a lot of “average SF con attendees.” They were mostly nice, and most knew little or nothing about the whole puppies thing. Most who knew something had a warped left-wing version of events in their heads. I managed to line up 3 interviews of my own by walking down to the press room and asking “want to interview a rabid puppy?” including one with Amy Wallace of Wired (http://www.wired.com/2015/08/won-science-fictions-hugo-awards-matters/ ) who talked to me for 20 or 25 minutes, but didn’t use any of it (flatly contradicted what I said, in fact, perhaps because I was recording the interview, too, so she could not out-of-context sound-bite me).

Generally, the CHORFs (Cliquish, Holier-than-thou, Obnoxious, Reactionary, Fanatics) behaved like HS girls having a hissy-fit that none of their cheer-leader friends got on the Prom Queen ballot, so they got the prom canceled rather than see one of the great unwashed wear the tiara.

There were several good post-voting analysis posts around the blogs, like https://chaoshorizon.wordpress.com/2015/08/25/2015-hugo-analysis-best-novel/ and the total results are here http://www.thehugoawards.org/content/pdf/2015HugoStatistics.pdf for the number-crunchers out there.

After all was said and done, I walked away with a number of pleasant interactions, a spiffy “Campbell nominee” pin https://fontfolly.files.wordpress.com/2015/07/campbellpin_cropped.jpg , 68 votes (out of 3859 cast for the Campbell, my write-up here http://www.thestarscameback.com/?p=663 ), and a lot of first-hand knowledge of what sort of people are the inside crowd of WorldCon. I met John C. Wright (http://www.scifiwright.com/ , and a fascinating post-Hugo podcast with him here http://superversivesf.com/2015/08/30/superversive-sf-post-hugo-livestream/ ), Quizzer and Codex (https://tempestinateardrop.wordpress.com/ , who it turns out live fifteen minutes from me), Ken Burnside of Ad Astra Games ( http://www.adastragames.com/ ), and more.

I would have liked to meet more non-SJWs, gunnies, or neutral locals, but I think that after all was said and done it was worthwhile and educational.

32 thoughts on “Sasquan post, obligatory

  1. Pingback: Pixel Scroll 9/1 The Pixellent Prismatic Spray | File 770

  2. Hi. It looks like you had a few assumptions about what worldcon would be. Maybe based on some other cons you’ve been to?

    Worldcon culture is a bit different, it doesn’t hurt to do a little research first. There’s really nothing extra for award nominees aside from the events related to the ceremony itself. You, and everyone but the nameed guests, are members. Expect the same treatment as if you walked in off the street, saw a sign for a convention and decided to buy a membership on the spot. If you wanted any more than that, it was up to you to arrange it.

    I wasn’t sure what to expect. I certainly didn’t expect being totally ignored, but that’s largely what happened. No offers of being on panels. No interviews. Nobody to introduce me. No packet available that was supposed to be ready for me. No open attacks on me. No large shows of support for the puppies.

    People aren’t really going to come to you. If you’re alone people will probably think you’re just not feeling social so they won’t bother you. You could always go down to the con suite, ask if an empty chair is taken and then join in the conversation about whatever the current topic is. Otherwise, panelists with the green ribbon get to use the green room, there’s people to talk to there and SFWA members get to use their writers-only version of a con suite. Should all that fail, there’s parties every night, flyers advertising them are posted in various places, plenty of people.

    Panels don’t get offered because your name is on the membership rolls. You go to the committee, hopefully well in advance lest you maybe get tossed into something random as a last minute fill in. You suggest panels, you tell them the topics you’re eager to participate in.

    Interviews, you did the right thing, showed up and offered yourself. How else was anyone to know who you were or what you were willing to talk about?

    Someone to show you around? No, maybe for the guest of honor, Campbell nominees don’t get special treatment nor do most writers, if you rate an escort it’s because they’re afraid you’re going to be too mobbed by fans to move around the con.

    There should have been a packet though, every member is supposed to get one with maps, schedules, and a commemorative program. If you didn’t get yours, that was wrong, email the con committee, I’m sure they’ll mail it to you so you’ll at least have the souvenir.

    Hope you’re not too soured on worldcons. You could try going to Kansas City next year and just having fun, it isn’t a professional convention like Nebula Weekends after all, networking and sales and all that buisness stuff can and does happen (in the bar) but the real purpose is to get your fan on and geek out with everyone.

    • I’m not a Con-goer. Last one I went to was a small one in Oregon thirty or so years ago. I did my “Worldcon culture” research in Spokane, and generally found it…meh.

      I don’t drink, don’t party, despise drunkenness and drug users, and am happily married, so the drinking, partying, multitudes of “polyamory meetup” posters, etc, have negative value to me. Hanging out talking to puppy-kicker SJWs is not an attractive line of socialization for hours on end.

      My assumption were along the lines of:
      I was asked if I wanted to do an interview, and when I said was I assumed they’d let me know when/where I should be for it. None were lined up, nobody knew anything about it, nobody told me where to go to inquire more.
      When I asked how to get on a panel, I was told I should have been asked if I was interested back when I accepted the nomination; I assumed that asking nominees at some point was normal, and as I didn’t know the process and nobody said anything about it (hello, Campbell = new guy, yes?) and dislike shameless self-promotion I didn’t push the point (I have since learned that is how so many bad panels get assembled: it’s not the most qualified, but the pushiest.)
      I assumed that when I say I’m new to it all, I get advice like you just offered, rather than blank looks, pablum, and excuses.
      I assumed I’d be given correct/honest answers to questions, e.g., I was told I could not attend unless I bought a membership, even as a nominee. I ponied up the money, only to be told later “oh, well of course you can attend all the reception / ceremony / afterword events without paying. Paying is only for the *rest* of the con.” That sort of thing sort of leaves a dirty taste in my mouth.

      Packet – yes, I got a few bits of printed matter as you described. The schedule was the only thing of use. The rest was nothing but garbage to be recycled (except the bag can still be used). They did find the pin, eventually. Why would I keep “souvenirs” of an event aimed in large part at insulting my publisher and peers?

      I’m not a SWFA member, and while I’m certainly qualified, because of the sort of people that infest/run it, it is of negative value to me as far as I know, and I see no reason to fund my enemies.

      Go to KC to “just have fun?” Fun doing what, exactly? Attend lame panels, such as when Wes Chu says its fine for YA SF to talk about anything, even bestiality? Or that you can’t target your fiction to any particular audience? (yes, he really said both those things *facepalm*) Or where the panel subject is X, but 90% of the talk is old-timers swapping inside jokes and reminiscing about tangential topics, or saying absurdly stupid things? Watch grossly overweight people roll around in electric carts? I’m not a huge fan of ANY current fiction – that’s why I wrote my own. I mostly gave up geeking out before I married nearly two decades ago. So the purpose of spending the better part of a thousand bucks, driving a thousand miles each way, sleeping alone in a hotel for a few days, wandering around being the butt of jokes and the target of hostility, attending a reception and award ceremony where I’d expect to be insulted to my face AGAIN, and seeing (if I’m lucky) three people I know, would be….? Why give money to people that have said they hate me, and people like me, and want us to be unemployed and dead?

      If I strongly suspected I’d win, and most Hugo categories were getting nuked with No Award, and I could give a rousing Hugo dalenda est speech, yes, I might be really tempted to go. Other wise? Mail me the plaque, and I’ll mail my speech to a stand-in.

      • Obviously people won’t like everything on offer at a worldcon, it seems you’re one of the unlucky set who don’t like anything on offer. It happens. Future con committees would take programming suggestions but since you don’t plan to attend any more worldcons, that would be a waste of your and their time.

        I was asked if I wanted to do an interview, and when I said was I assumed they’d let me know when/where I should be for it. None were lined up, nobody knew anything about it, nobody told me where to go to inquire more.

        The con committee asked? If that’s the case what probably happened is a list of willing people was given to the attending media. As the below poster mentioned, publicity is something a publisher tries to arrange. Wasn’t there something about it in, or along with, your Novel-length-work contract? Something about which of the following are you willing to do Tv/radio/print? And you would of course be free to arrange your own beyond what they arrange, as you did.

        (I have since learned that is how so many bad panels get assembled: it’s not the most qualified, but the pushiest.)

        Not quote how I’d put it. Offering yourself for lots of different topics, a willingness to take any panel gets you started as an entry-level panelist. Moving up to the better panels involves being charming/entertaining/funny. The best panels aren’t the ones with the best topics, they’re the ones with people who are really good at playing off each other.

        I assumed that when I say I’m new to it all, I get advice like you just offered

        Perhaps an informational sheet sent to all first time nominees? Here’s how to ask for panels, here’s what to expect when you pick up your registration packet, you may not attend any part of worldcon except the Hugo festivities unless you purchase an attending membership. Something like that?

        Even if you never attend another worldcon you can still do a lot of good for future nominees. When a little time has passed and you can write about it without getting angry, send an email to the Midamericon Con II people. Outline what you misunderstood and what you wish they had told you. Next year’s group won’t need to have the same misunderstandings.

        Why would I keep “souvenirs” of an event aimed in large part at insulting my publisher and peers?

        Google tells me Castalia House was founded in 2014. Sasquan won their worldcon bid in 2013 at Lonestarcon 3. The event was aimed at people who wanted to geek out about books and attend the panels you didn’t care for. You said, it yourself…

        They were mostly nice, and most knew little or nothing about the whole puppies thing.

        They went because they like the parties and the panels and catching up with old friends, wearing silly costumes, talking books. You have other interests….

        I would have liked to meet more non-SJWs, gunnies, or neutral locals, but I think that after all was said and done it was worthwhile and educational.

        Like firearms fandom, it sounds like the kind of thing you’d enjoy geeking out over.

        • Because I’m new, I selected panels because of the topics, because I’m interested in those topics. Isn’t that why they have topics listed first, as opposed to panels? I didn’t know more than a tiny handful of the panelist names, and knew NOTHING about how they’d interact, and there didn’t appear to be any obvious way to learn that other than show up.

          First-time ordinary attendee and first time attendee/nominee “highlights of what you REALLY should know early!” would be a great thing… Thinking about it, that’s a good way to describe the problem: WorldCon caters to old-timer insiders who already know everything, so they don’t need to be told, and they expect the new blood to simply fork over a lot of cash for years, attending and learning by osmosis, or brought and shown around by their personally-known insiders. It’s an “old-boys club” for freaks and geeks, newcomers not really welcome.

          Yes, Castalia is new, and Sasquan and its panels have been planned for a while, but the MCs remarks and the whole puppy/puppy-kickers blow-up are very new. The MC’s asterix joke was squarely aimed at Vox for daring to attempt to elbow into their inbred little trophy-party. The partiers, hosts, and cheering crowd behaved like spoiled children wanting to burn down the clubhouse before they let anyone else play in it. I expect next year to be far more openly hostile to puppy supporters, now that the CHORFs think they won.

          • I’ll remind you sir that I have been trying to offer you information that your publisher didn’t, your fellow nominees who are old pros didn’t, and that you did not seek out for yourself.

            And I’ll remind you that I’m a person who enjoys cons, talking about books, seeing panels and the general atmosphere of nerdvana.

            When you throw around words like freak and chorf you wrong me, repaying an act of kindness with scorn.

          • And I thank you for the thoughts. Truly I do.

            When I did SCA activities when I was younger, I was one of the freaks and geeks, too, and happily so. Now I’m outwardly somewhat more normal. The 400 pound heavily tattooed and pierced person in odd clothes is a freak by “normal” standards. Not necessarily a bad person, but it’s pretty clear some of the folks there have some serious “issues.” As one old timer said to me (a VERY well known author), paraphrased “a Con is a walking, talking, spectrum-disorder display.” He meant it kindly, as he went on to explain, that many of them had significant social-interaction problems and the was the only place they were understood and accepted. I get that. I don’t mind them – I’m used to them – but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to notice they are different.

            If I were there with a bunch of friends, or people were as warm and friendly as they kept describing themselves, I may have had fun. Indeed, I enjoyed the time I spent talking with John C. Wright (who I’d arranged to meet beforehand, as a fellow Castalia house nominee). And you don’t sound like a CHORF, so the term doesn’t apply to you…. but it most certainly does to some other people. My fundamental point that WorldCon does a very poor job of growing the fan base stands.

      • Watch grossly overweight people roll around in electric carts?

        My dad used one of those carts for the last decade of his life. Before his health went, he spent decades working 12 hour days. He helped thousands of people, always tried to be kind to his patients, volunteered tirelessly at his synagogue. If he needed the power chair to attend to some public event that would require more walking and standing than he could manage, he used it. And yes, he was fat.

        If you had seen him at a con, you would have, it seems, dismissed him as someone not worth spending time with. Your loss.

        I’m sorry you had such a bad time at Worldcon. I’m a cartoonist, and I’ve often had a terrible time at cons, for largely the same reasons. I’m not the sort of person who is good at making new friends, let alone good at joining already-existing friend groups (which cons are full of). For me, nothing feels lonelier than a con like that.

        If you ever attend a con again (and it sounds like you might not), what I’ve found works best is arranging in advance with people I already know to attend the same con, and plan specific times (meals, whatever) when you’ll hang out together and talk. But no matter what, if you’re the person who feels lost and unhappy at – say – a big party where you don’t know many people, then you’re likely to feel that way a lot of the time at cons. (I sure do.)

        • Please re-read what I wrote. I didn’t say that all people needing mobility assistance are not worthy of respect or meeting.

          The problem is this: they (the MC and majority of attending crowd) made it clear that they are NOT inclusive. They implicitly said they do not want “my type;” you know, the sort that doesn’t follow the powers-that-be around in adoration, toeing the SJW party line. I am glad I did not take my family to the event, and I never will. Trying to explain to my tweener daughter why there are “polyamory meetup” fliers ever fifty feet is just not something I really want to do, for example.

          I’m fine at meeting people that are willing to talk honestly and debate ideas. But many people seemed very guarded and on edge and noncommittal about everyong before the awards were announced, not wanting to say anything before they knew which way the tide was flowing. Not having read much current SF because it doesn’t appeal to me, I have little int eh way of SF-topical small-talk. Afterwords, the gloating and attitude was about as far from welcoming and inclusive as you can get without openly screaming profanity… though that did happen to John C. Wright’s wife at the pre-award reception. If I were to go again, I see no reason to expect better from the CHORFs. The old-friends-meeting-old-friends seemed to form very tight groups, and while I didn’t wedge myself in, I distinctly got a cold-shoulder feeling from the “in-crowd.”

          IF, and that’s a BIG IF, it looks like I might be going to the KC worldcon, I’ll be sure to get the word out via Vox and Castalia to rally the troops, and make a major high-profile showing, with books, signings, rabid puppy and Hugo Dalenda Est tee-shirts, a panel push, etc. Sort of “out and proud!” from the other end of the political spectrum. The problem with that, of course, is that means conservatives and sane folks pouring money into the coffers of a corrupt left-wing organization hoping for our destruction.

  3. There should be people that are concerned with the publicity of authors. I don’t know, let’s call them “publishers” or “agents”.
    Perhaps you may check if you have one already and they simply forgot to support you.

    • I’m not joking with the core statement.
      Otherwise, a vanity press or some amazon like model may be more efficient for you.

    • True. But considering the reason I self-published originally was because publishers were not publishing the sort of story I wrote, and hate people like me, going with a traditional big publisher was a non-option. The publisher I have offered me a much better deal than anything I’ve heard from any of the big houses, but it’s also very new – and growing fast. And they are VERY MUCH outsiders absolutely hated by the current clique of insiders. Castalia House is one of the targets of “true Fans”. I overheard one dinner conversation where they were denigrated in nasty ways by insiders. Having them push for things, at this time, would likely not have been particularly helpful.

      A vanity press isn’t an option – if I can’t make money, I won’t write. Self-publishing is great in some ways, but I find the constant nit-picking details of editing and dealing with artists one of the most blood-raising experiences of my life. Offloading that frustration and expense in exchange for a somewhat longer delivery time and lower percentage is a reasonable deal.

      But too, that illustrates the precise problem – if you have to be connected to industry insiders and know the systems already in order to get ANYTHING out of it, that sort of gives lie to the claim of being warm, welcoming, open, and inclusive, doesn’t it? It means that all but the luckiest or best self-publisher will be shut out because the merit of their work isn’t what’s important, it’s their connections with the existing cliques… which is exactly the problem of why SF got into the shrinking market model it is in today.

      • Speaking as a small press author with one published book, it is incumbent on the new author to do research. Before I went to my first con, I spent some time on Google researching how to more effectively use cons for marketing.

        • Makes sense. But it seems to me that the *CON* should be a hell of a lot better at letting people know that, so that its relevance is maintained. From a financial perspective, it was an utter waste of time and money for zero return for me. A business model that depends on old timers and insiders fleecing newcomers and the mentally unstable isn’t sustainable.

          • The purpose of the con is not to cater to pros, it caters to fans.

            Pros show up for many reasons, Laura Resnick wrote a bit about that yesterday on file770 http://file770.com/?p=24686&cpage=4#comment-334045 what benfit they get comes from going where the people are and competing for eyeballs of both fan and industry professional not from anything the con committee does.

            There may be much business done on golf courses but it isn’t the course owner’s job to do anything but take your reservation and provide a place to play.

          • I don’t want to sound like I’m piling on, but Iphinome is dead right – the con caters to FANS, not WRITERS. Moreover, and again speaking as a small-press guy, even if the con was catering to writers, people like you and me would still get short shrift. George RR Martin and Mike Resnick were at the con. They’ve both been professional authors since before I got out of grade school (I’m 48) and have huge fan bases. Based solely on that fact, they’d get catered to, while relative nobodies like us would be on our own.

            Regarding lack of topics of small talk – military SF is quite popular, and there are a lot of people at cons who are interested in guns and weapons. It’s an eclectic crowd.

          • Oh, one other point – when I started going to cons, I knew nobody. I got hooked up to a then debut author named Jim C. Hines by the expedient of saying hi to him in a hallway and buying his book. That was all it took for me to break the ice.

    • Rolf: No packet available that was supposed to be ready for me. They did find the [nomination] pin, eventually. I assumed I’d be given correct/honest answers to questions, e.g., I was told I could not attend unless I bought a membership. When I asked how to get on a panel, I was told I should have been asked if I was interested back when I accepted the nomination.

      Sandorn:

      Me: I wonder how it’s even possible that there’s a long queue of people at Vox Day’s door demanding a Rabid Puppies card. It’s a mystery to me.

      • I was having the exact same thought.

        Rolf’s experiences, and, more importantly, the sarcastic dismissal / rationalization of the “you’re doing it wrong” people, really substantiate the reputation that WorldCon is nothing more than an oldtimer’s empire and they want to keep it that way, damnit,

        • I actually like the golf course analogy above. It’s not the responsibility of the course to introduce you to other golfers or sign you up for an event. They provide the course and you’re expected to figure stuff out.

          Googling “new writer at sf conventions” pops up articles from Rob Sawyer and others about how these things work. It’s not a secret.

          • Chris, this subsubsection of the thread is not really about whether prior knowledge of a con’s inner doings improves a first timer’s experience, or whether people are not sharp enough to grasp that “Googling … pops up articles … It’s not a secret.”

            It’s more about how many people you have personally turned into RP followers, and how you are unable to stop doing it even at the minutest opportunity, as your comment proves.

          • I like the golf course analogy, too – let’s run with it.

            Compare two golfing experiences for a guy newly moved into town, near a golf course for the first time ever. He hears it’s a great game. He decides to go play for the first time, check it out, see if it’s a good fit.

            A) He walks in the door, and says he’s totally new to it, what’s he need? The clerk looks blankly at him, points to the price sign, and drones “shoes, clubs, cart, balls, greens fee. What do you need?” After a few minutes of searching, the clerk finally find the right size shoes, a worn bag with three clubs (but no explanation of how to use them or what they’re for), a dozen balls, and charges him a hundred bucks before shoving him out the door to “figure it out. There are no mysteries to golf.”

            B) new guy walks in the door and says he’s never golfed. The clerk takes a few minutes to find about what the guy knows, then spends fifteen minutes helping him get the right gear while explaining some of the details of the game. He offers the new guy the use of an experienced caddy if he wants to hire one (with 15% off for a first-timer discount), or if he’d prefer the clerk offers to hook the guy up with an experienced, friendly, and knowledgeable threesome on the 4th green (one of which used to work at the same company as the new guy) so he’d make some new friends while out. Further, he’d offer a 25% discount if he made the threesome a foursome, because he was expecting a larger group later on; he’d be happy to have a caddy drive him over to the 4th green to meet the group and make the introductions.

            So – which golf course do you expect would increase its membership over time?

            Put it in WorldCon terms. A large booth with a HUGE sign saying “First Time WorldCon? Stop here First!” At the booth a number of very friendly folks have a list of volunteers who are attending the Con, a list with phone numbers, top three or four interests, name(s)and age. The newcomer tells them what his interests are, and a quick phone call later he’s connected with an experienced con person of similar age and interests to help show him the ropes, explain things, and make him feel welcome and included. Any Con attendee could volunteer for the “newbie-trainer” list, and wear a particular ribbon on their badge. If a person is a new Con attendee AND a nominee/indie author who doesn’t have a connected publisher to provide a guide, then a shorter list of very experienced Con goers (drawn from former nominees) is called in to welcome them. Very little overhead, and it would make the first-time experience very different.

            That would draw more authors and talent, because it created more new repeat customers.

          • Where the golf course analogy breaks down is that the golf course is a for-profit business, and the guy at the front desk is getting paid.

            Worldcon is ran by volunteers. Those people at check-in? Volunteers. The people running the green room? Volunteers. The people running the Hugo awards? Volunteers. Programming, both panelists and schedulers? Volunteers. The only people getting paid at Worldcon are those employed by the convention center.

            Worldcon (in particular) and fan-run cons in general are really just very large potluck dinners. Because nobody has seating for 5,000, we have to rent a room and ask people to chip in to cover the costs.

            Now, having read your golf analogy, yeah it would be nice to have the ranger drive you out to butt in with a friendly threesome. I’ve never seen it happen.

          • Where the golf course analogy breaks is that golf courses are fixed, and people go to them knowing they have time to organize, find friends, etc. WorldCon moves, and someone might not know about it until the day before (for example, I like Jethro Tull and own most of their albums, but almost never know when they are touring through the area unless someone tells me; I’d have to buy tickets on short notice because I’m not a “tour groupie fan”), or for other reasons might not have time to research things, coordinate activities or even locate friends that are going. Anyplace that is going to call itself “warm and friendly and welcoming” that doesn’t actually have any way to help people that don’t already know what questions to ask is failing. The information desk was useful enough if you had a specific “I’m looking for room 301A” sort of question. If you were not even sure where to start, it was vastly less so. I saw no signs or indicators for “fans of mil SF meeting here!” only tiny coffee klatches for specific authors, or panels for particular topics, but those were structured in a way that almost discouraged meeting new people.

  4. Rolf– the consensus at File770, from pros who know more than me, is that you were indeed hung out to dry… by your publisher. Other publishers arranged meetups and breakfasts for their authors, and briefed them on what to expect for the con. It wasn’t Worldcon’s job to brief you or show you the ropes, but it was someone’s job–your publisher’s. You’re right to be angry that no one told you stuff or gave you a rundown, but your anger should be directed at Castalia House.

    As a newcomer, and someone who hasn’t even been nominated for anything, I don’t feel “fleeced” at all, but you’ve got to meet the con halfway (remember that the staff is all-volunteer, no one’s getting paid for anything)–go there with a positive attitude and pre-arrange meetups with other people you know are going, and you may have a better time at the next con.

    Finally, I don’t think publishers “hate people like you.” In my experience, they’re looking for amazing stories. My problem as a writer is I’ve gotten to “good” and “pretty good,” but it’s damn hard to hit “amazing.” Best of luck with your current and future writing.

    • Thanks you for demonstrating my point so clearly. Of COURSE the well-connected old time pros for the insiders would say that. What you are implicitly saying as well (paraphrasing them) is that small presses, indies, outsiders, and small-time operations are NOT welcome. That’s why SF is dying – one of its major “face-to-face” operations is run by and for connected insiders, newbies and outsiders NOT welcome (unless they are brought and introduced by another old-timer).

      The whole reason that Castalia was founded was that good new fiction was not being published by most of the big five publishing houses because the gatekeepers were shutting it out.

      And yes, some of the big editors like PNH *do* hate people like me. Read what they say.

      • No, we’re not saying “small presses aren’t welcome.” My book was published by a guy working out of a spare room in his house. It doesn’t get any smaller than that. (Actually, the Hugo-winning “Chicks Dig Doctor Who” was also published by a guy in Iowa working out of his house.)

        We’re saying that if you go to a con, you need to do some homework. Think about it – if you’re out with your friends doing whatever it is you do and some new person wanders in, do you run up to him and offer to lead him by the hand? Or do you assume he’s an adult and knows what he’s doing?

        • I’ve lived in a tourist town – when you see someone standing around looking confused, you pause and ask “can I help you?” I do the same in halls as school when a confused sixth grader stares blankly at the wall. I did SCA events for close to twenty years: I cannot count the number of times I helped get some newbie that didn’t know anyone there get oriented, helped out pitching tents, hauling stuff, getting them settled, and generally making them feel welcome and a part of the family.

          If you are a golf fan, you can watch it on TV for a long time before you hit the links for the first time, and have a pretty good idea what’s what. I don’t care how many SF books you read, it will give you no insight on how cons work. It’s a human interaction thing. The web only tells you so much, and telling someone to “google it” is semantically the same as saying “you are on your own, schmuck. I don’t care about you, but good luck.” The Sasquan website doesn’t have anything like a single obvious “new to cons?” page to get someone started.

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