Yes it’s been a minute. Here is a guest post by my friend Matt. Listen up. He’s got good advice here. (JRT)
By Matthew W. Quinn
One lesson I’ve learned in the years I’ve been writing professionally is attending conventions is a really, really good idea. Since I live in Atlanta, I’ve been blessed to have conventions like DragonCon, AnachroCon, and JordanCon (although I’ve never been to that one) easily accessible.
Firstly, conventions are good places to do business. I didn’t even know the BattleTech science-fiction franchise even still existed, but I ran into the staff of Catalyst Game Labs — the current holder of the property — at the 2008 DragonCon. I spent the subsequent year writing a short story entitled “Skirmish at the Vale’s Edge” for the site BattleCorps based on something I read in an old Clan Wolf sourcebook and submitted it to them just before the 2009 convention. I let the staff know I’d done this and soon afterward they wrote me to tell me they’d purchased the story. It’s still up there, and it’s now the canonical account of the Battle of Jallington Vale.
At a later DragonCon (either 2011 or 2012), I met representatives of another small press and received permission to send them my secondary-world fantasy/steampunk novel Battle for the Wastelands. I submitted in March 2013 and after not hearing back for some time, queried the company’s representative at the 2013 convention. I eventually received a rejection that November — they said it had good writing, but wasn’t for them. Although this wasn’t an acceptance, it was still feedback and a contact made for future projects.
More recently, I volunteered at the 2015 World Horror Conference. There I met representatives of two small presses, one dedicated to science fiction, fantasy, and horror and the other “bizarro.” I got the go-ahead to submit my teen Lovecraftian horror novel The Thing in the Woods and a rather strange tale involving little people. I’ve already submitted the former; I’ll submit the latter once I finish it.
Secondly, one can learn a whole lot about the craft of writing from panels. I found panels at DragonCon 2013 so informative on topics like pulp writing and putting together anthologies and collections that I ended up blogging about them. At the 2011 DragonCon I attended a panel on characterization taught by none other than Michael Stackpole. Another panel, with S.M. Stirling, provided some valuable advice about short stories and the most profitable use of one’s time. DragonCon 2010 gave me enough material for multiple blog posts. AnachroCon, though much smaller, taught me some valuable information about Norse culture and the state of Lovecraftian media.
Finally, conventions are a good place to sell your wares. James and I have a mutual friend named J.H. Glaze who’s very, very good at moving his product at conventions. I’ve purchased books at the World Horror Conference and DragonCon. If you’ve got books to sell, try to get a table either by yourself or with other writers to share the load.
-Matthew W. Quinn is a freelance writer, editor, and soon to be holder of an M.A. in World History from Georgia State University. Check out his speculative fiction here and follow him on Twitter here.