Enter the Facts

I didn’t know we were keeping it secret from SFWA that fans attend the Worldcon.

So how come there’s someone writing for the SFWA Blog who sounds unaware of this?

In Jaym Gates’ guest post, Enter the Dragon*con, she rhapsodizes about the audience for her panel at the Atlanta con:

These were fans, people who maybe were just starting to write or be published and readers. They are the people the authors and publishers started out as, and the ones who will be deciding the future of the industry. After a few years of attending conventions mostly populated by writers, it was a refreshing change of pace to hear from a larger crowd.

“Mostly populated by writers.” What conventions are those?

Conventions like WorldCon and World Fantasy are wonderful. It’s a chance to catch up with peers and talk about work, to drink in the bar with your fellows. But it’s a relatively closed system.

Do writers dominate the World Fantasy Con? I suppose that’s possible. WFC has a strict membership limit – just 1000 in 2010.

On the other hand, I’ve never heard anyone characterize the Worldcon as “mostly populated by writers” for a very good reason — it’s not.

In fact, outside of Jaym Gates’ word processor, it’s pretty well known that the Worldcon is a good place to find a few thousand enthusiastic book buyers.

But conventions like Dragon*Con, ComiCon and GenCon offer the opportunity to reconnect with the people we should really be paying attention to.

I’d like to think SFWAns realize anywhere a large group of fans is interested in hearing from an sf/fantasy writer is a good place to make that connection.

15 thoughts on “Enter the Facts

  1. Despite what Greg says about newbies, I wonder if this is not the shape of things to come? Writers, editors and other pros who are so profoundly disconnected from fandom and the genre’s roots that they imagine they belong to a profession pretty much like any other, where the consumer is never seen and certainly never heard from.

  2. It’s true about WFC. It’s why I dislike it and always tell people not to go. It’s great for networking and horrible for having fannish conversations.

    As for doing this at Worldcon, people do. I think it’s because SFWA have a suite at Worldcon for their members to hide out and miss the actual convention.. It’s bad for everyone — bad for the writers who can get trapped in their own little space, as Gates seems to have, bad for the fans because the writers aren’t out there mingling. They should have a party by all means, but by keeping a suite for the entire con and encouraging members to retreat into it they’re actively harming fandom. I’m astonished that Worldcons continue to pay for this.

    Jaym Gates needs to get out more.

  3. I’ve had this argument with some pros before.

    There’s always a strong “convention within a convention” at Worldcon where some writers spend all their time at “the writers’ bar” and in publisher and professional parties. They never see the the bigger convention going on around them, or even worse dismiss the things that aren’t pro-oriented.

    Worldcon doesn’t pay for the SFWA suite. SFWA pays for the SFWA suite. There are current arguments going on about whether it’s right for Worldcon (the next one) to pay for the Hugo Losers’ Party or (the current one) the Old Pharts (past chairs) party, but those are each one night only.

  4. @Andrew: Does SFWA rent the suite? When I was last in touch with these arrangements the Worldcon comped the suite out of the freebies it was due for filling room nights inthe hotel.

  5. @Mike: I could be wrong.

    If it’s paid for out of comp nights from the hotel, then the con isn’t really paying for it (and SFWA does stock the bar and snacks).

    On the other hand, one could argue that allocating those comps to more open and fannish use would be a better use of resources the convention earned from the hotel.

    Of course, I’ve heard about some new regional SFWA Suite coordinators (I think the northeast region coordinator back when I was a FGoH at Arisia) who are far less exclusive about who they let in the door.

  6. Giving a comp to SFWA has a foregone opportunity cost since the nominally free room can be used as gopher crash space or by a staff person who pays something directly to the con or in some other valuable way.

    But getting back to the point, I wouldn’t want to pretend that failing to comp the SFWA suite would flush the quarry into the open. They’re more resourceful than that.

  7. Kudos to Andrew Trembley for his posting on the SFWA piece.

    Great conclusion:
    “Because, frankly, Helsinki may have an uphill battle to win the 2015 Worldcon, but Dragon*Con will never be in Helsinki. Or London. Or Montreal. Or Boston. Or San Jose.”

  8. The is is about what you’ve all mentioned, but it is also about something larger: professionals who have only “grown up” within the commercial-con environment beginning to have an influence/impact on the field. The same but subtlety different from what Taral said above.

    That difference being A: obviously NOT coming from a fannish background (oh. to be fair, obviously not a “traditional” fannish background and B: apparently not understanding or even recognizing the difference between “FANS” and Consumers-Willing-To-Stand-On-Line-To-Pay-For-Autographs.

    The disconnect there is obvious to any fan but should still be articulated: no knowledge or experience of the fan-becomes-pro dynamic and a lack of all of the cultural imperatives that entails.

    (What would someone like her do if invited to attend Worldcon and then informed that no fees are collected at autograph signings? Better question: what publisher is going to underwrite attendance to Worldcon when opportunities like Dragoncon exist?)

  9. I started seeing this at Bouchercon (the World Mystery Convention) 20 years ago when a young female writer was complaining about all the ‘fans’ ruining her convention.

  10. I used to go to the SFWA suite just to watch a drunken Jerry Pournelle deny access to members he didn’t know personally, but now when I go—once at Chicon—it’s full of writers I’ve never heard of, and mostly don’t want to read.

  11. The magazines and bookshelves are also full of writers I’ve never heard of, and mostly don’t want to read these days too. That the SFWA suite is like that may follow from the genre being what it is.

  12. I’m only now catching up with things and my scribbled reply wound up trying to address all the things raised from all the hats I wear. Since all of the things raised were anti-this or that I’ll go with the most straightforward one. Wearing my person-who-works on conventions –

    I haven’t handled suites and housing for a couple of years but to the best of my knowledge SWFA has *always* paid for the SFWA suite, rooms connected to the suite, and members of the convention related to SFWA or not who are providing room buffers pay for their own rooms.

    You may have heard the word ‘comps’ but it’s because people handling suites and housing have run the numbers and concluded that it’s better to use a comp with SFWA (or whomever else) paying the convention the same amount they would have paid the hotel. If there’s any further confusion it’s only because hotel contracts are complected and ‘comp’ is used in a number of different ways.

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