Tag Archives: conventions

Attending Science Fiction Conventions

San Diego Comic Con

All across the world from the United States to Europe, Australia, and more, large groups of readers and writers of the science fiction and fantasy genre gather together to experience and talk about all that is weird and wonderful about the books they love. Some conventions are huge with tens of thousands of attendees and others are smaller local affairs of a few hundred. Both types are incredibly useful as an author and offer much both as a resource for writing material, a writing conference to learn your craft, and a place to hang out and talk about your love for Star Wars or Dr. Who without getting odd looks from your mother. One of the reasons I choose to be a science fiction and fantasy author, besides the fact that I love the genre, is that it has a well-established circuit of literary conventions.

The conventions have different “tracks” within them. This is a series of programming at the convention that ties in with certain people and interests. Sometimes there is a separate charge or area for the different tracks, but often the programming is left wide open allowing the attendee to enjoy what interests them.

Writing Track

This is where I usually hang out. The writing track is a mini writer’s conference within the convention. Panels and workshops about the writing craft, tropes in the genre, how to market your books, and readings by established authors or up and coming writers are featured. This is also where the podcasters and movie buffs hang out.

Filk Track

A filk singer is someone who takes a well-known song and gives it new lyrics, in this case, of a science fiction or fantasy nature. It is sort of like fanfiction for musicians. The better-known filkers are set up to perform throughout the evenings to provide exposure for their art and to provide entertainment to the attendees. It is common to see people with folk guitars lounging around the commons of a convention on any given day.

CosPlay Track

Conjecture 2014 - blogAttendees who wear costumes and groups of people that enjoy creating them have been a big part the science fiction community for as long as I remember. You’ll see people dressed as Jedi knights, in star trek uniforms, and many other pop culture icons. Usually, if you ask politely, they are happy to stop and pose for a picture with you. On Saturday night, there is often a masquerade ball where the costumes are judged and prizes are awarded based on their creativity.

Science Track

Science fiction attracts a large number of engineers, doctors, and other professionals who come to let out their geek side for the weekend. Most conventions will feature lectures and presentations by these scientists that rival ones I’ve seen at JPL and other institutions. These are talks about the planets, new technology, mathematics, physics and a host of other subjects. As a science fiction author, I find these to be gold mines of information that I can later use in my stories.

Artist Track

Dealer Room ShopperAnother track that I am very much a part of, the artist track consists of the vendors in the dealer room that sell all sorts of science fiction related items from books to soft goods, jewelry, and much more. There is also an art show where 2D and 3D art is on display and for sale in a boutique to the attendees. Before I became an author, I was a dealer of jewelry for around twenty years. I sold Celtic and Science Fiction themed jewelry in the dealer rooms or more recently, my prints of Scifaiku Poetry in the art shows. I still book tables for my jewelry and books from time to time, but these days I’m more often in panels or giving presentations in addition to my readings.

I consider these conventions to be a “leg” of my author platform and every bit as important as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I attend several each year and always see a bump in my online sales along with the books I sell at the event. It also proves to be a great place to network. I find new authors to interview for my blog, guest posters, and people to interview me in turn.

While you certainly can book a table to sell your books at the convention, I found that joining a writing guild and sharing a table proves to be more beneficial. That way you get time at the table to do signings, but you also can get away to enjoy the panels and other fun events of the convention. The guild I belong to is Broad Universe, a writing guild that promotes women writers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. It is a national writing guild and we host tables and readings at most of the larger conventions in the United States. However, there are many other guilds represented at the various conventions. As an author, you simply need to check out what is available in your local area and move forward from there. If you are attached to a small press, often times they will host a table for their stable of authors too.

Science Fiction Conventions are fun! The creative energy in the place is like nothing I’ve experienced anywhere else. If you haven’t been to one, find a smaller local one and get your feet wet. Release your inner geek. Beyond selling books and doing readings of your work, you might find a place where you can relax and chat about your favorite books and movies on a level you have never experienced before.

 

2015 Year in Review for Author Wendy Van Camp

BOB - Wendy Van Camp Swag Table 2015

I’ve been writing stories since 2010, but before 2015 I was practicing a hobby, hoping that it would blossom into a career. This is the first year that I feel that I’ve become a professional author. I’d like to share with you the highlights of the promotion of my first novelette “The Curate’s Brother: A Jane Austen Variation of Persuasion” that was published in October of 2014 as an ebook and then made into a paperback in February 2015.  I’ve been on a wild ride of promotion and book signings ever since.

2015 Readings

Gypsy Den
February – Anaheim, CA
I was to do my first public reading in a little bohemian coffeehouse known as the Gypsy Den. Two weeks before the reading, I confessed to one of my friends that the book was only available in ebook. She was stunned and urged me to print copies to autograph at the reading. The idea stunned me too. Although my ebook had been out three months, I did not realize that I was a “real” author! Of course, I needed to print my books and bring them with me, but until that point, I had not realized this. The reading was to an audience of RWA members, many of them published authors themselves. The questions they had for me after the reading were direct and about my writing process. Afterward, I autographed and sold several copies of my newly printed novelette.

Wendy Van Camp - Lady Jane Salon 2015

WesterCon
July – San Diego, CA
This is the west coast regional science fiction and fantasy literary convention. The location changes each year. This year it was in San Diego, CA and hosted by Conjecture and ConChord, two local science fiction conventions. It was a huge event for me. I organized a Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading for five women science fiction authors to read their work, of which I was one. We had a great turn out and I was tickled to see a large group of knitting women who turned out to listen to the stories and continue work on their knitting!

WorldCon
August – Spokane, WA
This was the first time that I had attended WorldCon. I have never traveled so far for a convention before, but I was determined to attend. I joined 19 other science fiction authors at the Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading on Friday night. I did not read from my published novel. Instead I read an excerpt from my upcoming “Steampunk Wonderland” series that should debut in 2016. WorldCon was great fun. I met many wonderful new authors, took home so many new books that I ended up having to ship the bulk of them home via FedEx! I also attended the Hugo Awards live for the first time. I will be returning to WorldCon next year.

Books on Broadway
October – Costa Mesa, CA
This was an event put on by DeAnna Cameron in connection with her promotion company, Books on the Vine. I read an excerpt from The Curate’s Brother during a “high tea and regency romance” reading. The entire audience were Jane Austen fans. I ended up reading my except four times as the audience was rotated around me. It was my second highest sales event of the year. I had a wonderful time and I hope to return to Books on Broadway one day.

BOB - Wendy Van Camp Reads From The Curates Brother 2015
2015 Book Signings

Gallifrey One
February – Los Angeles, CA
Each year, I book a table at the Dr. Who convention in Los Angeles, CA and sell my artisan jewelry and books. It is a great way to get an autographed copy of my book or of the chapbook of science fiction stories and poetry that I participate in each year known as Quantum Visions.

WesterCon
July – San Diego, CA
After the Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading, an hour was set aside for the group in the dealer’s room of the convention for all the authors to display and sign autographs. We all sold a few books and had a great time.

Westercon68 Autographing (2015) Jude-Marie Green, Barbara Clark, Wendy Van Camp.

WorldCon
August – Spokane, WA
I am a jeweler in the art show at WorldCon and as such, I am offered time in Author/Artist alley to display my jewelry or hold workshops. I chose to bring my books and do book signings. I booked two days in Author Alley and ended up selling and autographing the most books in a location for the year.

Books on the Vine – Pop-up Bookstore
October – El Dorado High School, Placentia, CA
My book will be available for sale in the shop all day and I autographed my Austen Variation novel “The Curate’s Brother” from 1pm to 2pm. This is a fun, well-attended event in Orange County, CA.

LosCon
November – Los Angeles, CA
I’ve been a regular in the dealer room at LosCon for at least half a decade. My table there is mainly for my jewelry, but I also bring my books to sell and autograph. This was where “Quantum Visions”, edited by Jude-Marie Green, makes it debut. I displayed the chapbook that featured my scifaiku poetry along with short stories from other members of the Orange County Science Fiction Club Writer’s Orbit. I ended up selling and autographing as many of the chapbooks as I did my own book. It was a great way to meet new readers and have a chance to chat with them.

2015 Podcasts

Changes
YouTube – January 7th
Join author Wendy Van Camp for *CHANGES*, an hour long conversation with Sally Ember, Ed.D. about science fiction books, the science fiction literary convention circuit and much more!

The Event Horizon
Krypton Radio – August 13
I’ve completed a podcast interview with Krypton Radio. We spoke about scifaiku poetry, John Carter of Mars, writing fanfiction and a little about my upcoming Steampunk Wonderland series. It is available to listen for free on iTunes or Stitcher.

Epic Geeking Out with Authors 1
Blab – September 24
A group of science fiction authors get together and talk about science fiction novels, steampunk, WorldCon and more geeky topics.

Writing Block: epi 41 – Wendy Van Camp: Self-Published Author & Poet
LibSyn – October 28
Britany Mills interviews me about how I discovered Scifaiku poetry and the writing process behind my novelette “The Curate’s Brother”.

2015 Speaking Engagements

Starting the Engine of Your Author Platform

When publishing your first novel, common advice is to start a website and use social media to promote the book. Most authors do not know how to tap into social media and waste much time on repetitive marketing tasks that don’t seem to work. Instead, you need to create an “engine” to automatically distribute your marketing content to key sites and reduce your online workload. Come join Wendy Van Camp as she explores how to interlock three popular social media networks and grow your brand as an author.

WesterCon
July – San Diego, CA

CHWG Writer’s Workshop
Buddamouse
Claremont, CA
November

2015 Blog Interviews

The Write Stuff: Interview with Raymond Bolton 
Writing a Persuasion Prequel: Interview with A.R. Silverberry 
Author Spotlight: Interview with Kasper Beaumont 
20QS with Author Wendy Van Camp

2015 Writing Challenges

September Flash Fiction Challenge

During September of 2015, there was a 30-day challenge to write a flash fiction story once a day via the Fantasy and Science Fiction Society, an online writing group I am a member of. I joined in the challenge on September 2nd and decided to commit to finishing the challenge no matter what. The prize to me were not merit badges or other WDC goodies, the real incentive was to have a bank of stories that I could submit in 2016 and begin to start publishing more regularly. The challenge was a grindstone that came close to overwhelming my month, but somehow I preserved and managed to write thirty flash stories. Many of which I feel will be worthy of submission in 2016 with a bit of revision.

Nanowrimo

I am a volunteer Municipal Liason (ML) for my region in Nanowrimo. This keeps me very busy October through early December. Right after my September Challenge was over, I moved directly into prep work for Nanowrimo. I manage the Facebook Group and Twitter feed for our group and work with my partner Rosie de Guzman in scheduling write-ins, developing three gatherings for our wrimos, and committing to hosting one write-in per week during November. This is all in addition to my writing 50 thousand words of a rough draft novel. It is like plunging into a cold lake and not coming up for air for ten weeks.  You have to know that I love it.