As part of my Guest blog series for authors and fellow bloggers I am proud to present another guest blog spot. Kirk Dougal author of JACKED I am very excited and
JACKED is out NOW! So go grab a copy!
The Pros of Cons
By Kirk Dougal
There is a lot being said these days about writing conventions, conferences, and workshops. Not all of the news is good, either. Outrageous, inexcusable behavior has taken place at some events—enough that some have been canceled and others have seen their attendance drop. The cons that have taken proactive steps to make the events safe and fun for everyone, however, give me hope that some semblance of common decency will become the norm again.
There is a very good reason why I hope that writing events such as these continue on into the future: I would not be the writer I am today without the cons I attended in the past.
These are some of the reasons why I find conventions and conferences so important for writers:
– Education – No matter what level you are at in your writing career, everyone can pick up useful bits of knowledge to incorporate into their writing routine. I still remember attending my first conference in Columbus, Ohio, when I was very early in my writing life. I had sold one short story and was struggling to discover a path through my first novel when I went. I sat in on every panel I could, taking notes and asking questions. I talked with other authors and cornered panelists in the hallways of the hotel. It was overwhelming and inspiring at the same time. Today I spend more time on panels speaking then I do in the audience but I still manage to return home with some nugget of useful information, either from a fellow panelist or one of the other authors.
But that information does not just inject itself into your system. Do your homework before you go to the con. Create a schedule of the panels you want to see and the extra events that look interesting. Know who the speakers are and learn about them so you can tap into their particular specialties. Being prepared will prepare you for a much better experience.
– Networking – Depending on the conference, this may be the best part of the event. Early in my career I talked to anyone who would return the favor. I was blessed to meet dozens of authors, many who became friends. As years went by, I was also able to spend time with some of the big names in the industry, learning that they were just people, and taking the opportunity to connect.
Just as important, many of these events are attended by agents, publishers, and artists. This is, of course, a different type of acquaintance than meeting other authors because these are business situations. If the con offers meetings with agents, take advantage of the opportunity. I also know of two authors who later decided to self-publish works and they used artists they had met at conventions. This is your opportunity to become more than just a faceless query in the slush pile. HOWEVER, be mindful of the other person as well. No one wants to be “on” every second for a four-day convention. If the publisher you found in the corner of the hotel hallway looks like they just ran a marathon and really want to have a quiet bite to eat before their next meeting, wish them a good time and move along. You want to be remembered the next time your manuscript hits their desk but not as the pushy author that kept them from a sandwich and a deep breath.
– Just Get Away – At the same time, you do not need to be “on” the entire time of a convention as well. Relax as much as you can. Writing is typically a lonely pursuit and at cons you have the opportunity to kick your feet up around people who better than anyone else understand you. I return from every con feeling tired (and hoping not to catch Con Crud, the most noxious disease known to man) but also invigorated, a feeling that very often has re-energized my writing for weeks. But I cannot feel that way if I return home exhausted after running at eighty miles per hour for days on end. So remember, take time to relax.
And just have some fun.
Kirk Dougal has had fiction works appear in multiple anthologies and released his debut novel, Dreams of Ivory and Gold in May of 2014 through Angelic Knight Press, with a 2nd edition released in February 2015. His YA/thriller novel, Jacked, leads the launch of Ragnarok Publications’ Per Aspera SF imprint in 2016. He is also waiting on the publication of his SF/LitRPG novel, Reset, while completing the sequel to Dreams, Valleys of the Earth.
Kirk is currently working in a corporate position with a group of newspapers after serving as a group publisher and editor-in-chief. He lives in Ohio with his wife and four children. For more information on his writings or just to find out what he has been doing, you can find Kirk at his website, www.kirkdougal.com, or hanging out on Facebook and Twitter