Readercon’s Board of Directors posted an apology to Facebook for the letter sent to some of its past program participants informing them they would not be invited back this year. The full text of the apology is below.
A number of older writers who received the letter took offense, both for being dropped, and for being offered an unfortunately-phrased “PASTPRO” discount. Readercon apologized for the wording and for failing to make clear that writers getting the letter were being rotated out but could be considered as participants in future years.
The charge of age discrimination, which Kathryn Cramer publicly called on Readercon’s board to investigate, is not addressed by the statement.
Dear Readercon Community,
This year for the first time Readercon sent a letter notifying some previous program participants that they would not be invited onto panels this year. We sent the letter to assist them in planning for the con. We are a convention of under 1000 people. We usually have around 150 panelists/program participants each year, but the list of invitees onto program had grown to over 900.
It has always been our policy that program participants do not pay for their convention membership. In some years we had more invited panelists than paying attendees, and that is not a viable model. We cannot afford to give free memberships to everyone.
Readercon is at its best when we strive to include a mix of experienced and rising authors, editors, publishers, and others in the community. We need to rotate the names on that list to ensure we continue nurturing a strong mix. We only have so many slots available on panels each year.
That 900+ person list was reviewed by several people including the past three program chairs. Together they determined a process for selecting who would rotate out and identified who would be affected for Readercon 29.
While similar rotation has been happening for several years behind-the-scenes, we realized that there was a need to start letting recent program participants know that they would not be invited for programming this coming year.
We realize we did not handle this well. The letter we sent was not well written.
We neglected to point out explicitly that even if individuals were not going to be considered for panels this year, they would always be eligible for consideration in years to come. We would like to make that known now and will be correcting it in next year’s letter.
We should have been more transparent and clearer.
It was never our intention to give people the impression that they will never be invited to participate in Readercon programming again. We also hoped and continue to hope that they will choose to attend Readercon because they enjoy the convention itself.
In conclusion, we messed up and we are sorry.
We should have said upfront that not every program participant will be invited back every year. Our only exception is that all past Guests of Honor receive invitations every year.
As important members of the industry, you are always welcome to tell us if you are an expert on one of our upcoming Guests of Honor or the Cordwainer Smith Award winner, if you are publishing a piece by an upcoming Guest of Honor, or if you have a new book coming out. We have always worked hard to support the incredible people who have participated in Readercon programming over time. This has included talking with the US State Department , universities, and supplying documentation for grants.
The Readercon Board of Directors:
B. Diane Martin