Back from FantasyCon, which was awesome. The panel I was on, “My First Con” was a lot of fun, and we came up with a few invaluable golden rules for first time con- goers.
- Don’t smell. Difficult at the Albion where the ambient temperature was something hotter than the Sun, but you will be doing a lot of hugging. You may like to check that your pits don’t stink before you throw yourself at your favourite author.
- Don’t forget to eat – easy when so much is going on, but if you faint at a signing you may find it’s you who ends up scribbled on in permanent marker.
- Don’t get drunk and make a twit of yourself. Just because you’re in a bar with your mates doesn’t mean it’s ok to hit the gin at 9.45 in the morning. Drinking to excess may be the one essential staple of publishing that hasn’t changed over the last fifty years, but you don’t want to be remembered as the person who threw up all over the GOH.
- Don’t worry about being a gibbering nincompoop – we’ve all done it. Yes, even the very very famous. The great thing about meeting authors at cons is that they were all fans first. They’ve all been struck wibbly in the presence of authors they’ve been reading since they were fourteen, and they’ve all got stories to tell about it. Writers are people too, and most of the ones I’ve met have been very lovely people. If all you can do when you meet an author is blurt out “Oh my god I loved your book!”, most of them will be flattered. Especially if you follow it up with “Can I buy you a drink?”
- Don’t worry about NOT recognising an author – that’s fine too. Again, we’ve probably all done it. If you meet an author and you have no idea who they are, just say, “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name…” Lets face it, a lot of book-jacket photos were taken at least ten years ago, and hard-drinking takes its toll…. (I know for a fact that Joe Abercrombie is only nineteen 😉 ) If you haven’t read their books, don’t feel bad. There are a lot of books in the world. If you read them and didn’t like them, don’t feel bad. Not everyone likes everything. Mutter something polite and offer to buy them a drink.
- Don’t be scared to approach people. Lots of authors are shy creatures, emerging blinking into the light a few times a year before scuttling back to their writer-caves. If you talk to people at cons, you can make lifelong friends. Some of the nicest people I’ve ever met, I’ve met at cons. You are surrounded by a group of like-minded, nerdy, slightly beered-up people who have come out to meet people. Go meet them, have fun! Join in with the quiz, the dancing, the chat. You will make invaluable contacts but, more importantly, you will make friends.