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Lessons Learned from Chicon7

Chicon7 is under my belt and I’ve caught my breath. I had a great time and am looking forward to the next convention (I’ll be attending Loscon 39 during the weekend after Thanksgiving.)

So, what did I learn from my first Worldcon and how will I do things differently next time?

  1. I learned that conventions are about all facets of my writing. I attended a lot of panels, wanting to learn as much as possible. Most of the panels were on the craft of writing, but I attended a few regarding editors and agents. I was focused on increasing my skill in the craft. The business of my writing was my second priority.On Sunday morning, I got a chance to talk to Kay Kenyon. She mentioned I was missing an important opportunity–to build the business side of my writing.  She pointed out that I can read about and practice my craft as a mostly solitary endeavor–learn, practice, repeat. I can e-mail friends about, and do Google searches on it as well. However, it’s pretty much just me.The business side of writing is more about contacts–other people who can help your business. Most publishers do not accept unsolicited manuscripts. However, if I meet someone, and he/she asks for my manuscript, that is a solicitation. Even if there is a slush pile, I get out of that pile when an editor or agent asks for my manuscript. I can write and revise and get my manuscript perfect. But, others help me get it published.
  2. I’m not a partier; never have been. However, I’m aware that needs to change, somewhat.
    1. I met someone in Chicago (2,000+ miles away) that lives in Huntington Beach (3 miles away) nearby where I live. I met him at a party. I’m hoping this will turn into a real friendship.
    2. I also met with an agent who asked for my manuscript–at a party.
    3. I caught up with my closest friends at the parties where we had a chance to chat and catch up, rather than getting to another panel.  There are no panels at night.
  3. My reputation precedes me. I met someone who recognized my name because of the posts I made on the Writers of the Future forum. That surprised me. I hadn’t been on that site for over two years, yet someone read what I posted way back then and remembered me.  I hope i was helpful.
  4. I need to get in better shape before the next convention. The panels were held in multiple buildings. Running between the two buildings and six different floors to get to panels was exhausting sometimes. With the large number of attendees, the elevators were packed. We sometimes waited ten minutes for a car that could accommodate us.

There’s probably a lot more that will come to me, but these seem to be the lessons that bubbled to the surface easily. That convinces me that they are the most important.

I learned a lot, had a whole bunch of fun, and cannot wait for San Antonio next year.

– Brennan Harvey

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