Why Aspiring Writers (Should) Love Cons

by Gail Z. Martin

So you want to be a writer?  Get thee to a convention!

Conventions are fantastic networking and educational opportunities, and they cost a fraction of what many writing conferences charge.

Most conventions have some kind of writing track where you can hear published writers talk about writing and ask them questions.  This is a golden opportunity to learn about the craft from people who are already doing it successfully.

Writing track panels also often include panels on creating characters, writing a good plot,  building dialog, etc.  There are panels with agents and editors sharing tips on how to find an agent or submit a manuscript.  And if you’re lucky, there’s Alan Wold’s wonderful two-day writing workshop.    There are also panels on promoting your books,  publishing e-books, self-publishing and other aspects of the writing life.

Cons are also a great way to meet authors and get to ask your own questions.  Make it low-key, and don’t be a stalker, but you’ll find that many writers are very approachable at cons because they go to connect with people.  Use common courtesy, but don’t be afraid to approach someone and ask a question (try to make it a reasonably quick one).  You’ll do best if you’ve obviously done some homework ahead of time, so don’t ask obvious questions like “how do I find an agent?” (Writers Digest Books have whole books on the topic—read these first and ask a more advanced question.)  Don’t ask a writer to read your manuscript (he or she really doesn’t have time), but it’s OK to ask short technical questions.  Many genuine and long-lasting fan/writer friendships have begun with a conversation at a con!

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