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Friday, August 8, 2008

Killer Campaigns: Conference Confidential

I am worthless today. Thursday, they zapped my eyes to remove the film that formed after my lens replacement surgeries. My eyes tend to stay dilated longer than most people, so I'm still nursing a bad headache. This post will be short and sweet, but I hope it will give you some good intel.

Conferences can be broken down into two basic types, fan-based and writer-based. The fan based cons are forums that welcome readers, (your fans) to meet authors and learn about the latest books. Many SFF conferences are fan-based because not only do you meet your favorite authors but they usually have tie-ins with science fiction and fantasy icons from movies and role playing as well.

Writer cons tend to be more business oriented, in as much that they have lots of workshops that help writers improve their craft and their career.

When I started writing, I leaned more toward writer conferences because I felt the fan-based cons were for more established authors, but now I can see the benefit of a new author introducing himself to fan-based cons. While it's important to network with your peers, it's more important to build relationships with your readers.

I have visitors from nearly every genre here, but I'm going to stick to SFF and romance for the purpose of this post.

When it comes to fan-based cons, no one can beat Lori Foster. Blogs buzz like crazy after every event. If fate allows, I'd like to do next year's event, June 5-7. Check her website after January for more info.

World Con (otherwise known as the World Science Fiction Convention) is another genre and fan-based conference that draws people from everywhere. Next year, it will be in Quebec, Canada. This year, it's in Colorado.

FenCon is local to Dallas. It's a quirky little fan-based con, but I like it because I get to meet a lot of local authors. If you’re in town, please attend. It's cheap and they always have good panels.

Want something to do in the blustery days of February? Attend ConDFW. In 2009, the guest of honor is going to be none other than Jim Butcher. I've seen him at FenCon and he's a great panelist.

Writer-based cons have always held more appeal to me because I am the perpetual student. I love learning new stuff and meeting other authors.

The mother of all cons in this regard is RWA. Holy, moly! I've only been to one and it was incredible. My brain couldn't process all that information. Don't be fooled thinking it's only about romance writing. This is a conference geared for the writing professional. If you make the mistake that romance is for girly girls, tis your loss. I have never learned so much in one place. Expensive, but worth the money. This year's con was in San Francisco. Next year: Washington, DC.

There's also Muse Online Conference which covers all genres. It runs October 13 - 19, 2008, but be sure to sign up by September 1st. And this is FREE, folks. People are donating their time and sharing their expertise. It fills up fast, so sign up early.

Willamette Writers Conference is one that always seems to get a good report card. I've never been there, but I have friends who swear by it. If it's August and you're in Oregon, give them a try.

I have mixed feelings about the Writers League of Texas because they handled their booking so poorly last year. I will recommend them because they do get a lot of big name agents out there. Hopefully, they learned from their past mistakes.

Are there any other cons you'd recommend? Leave a comment with a link.

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Sandra said...

Hi Maria,

For science fiction/fantasy writers, I'd recommend both WisCon and World Fantasy. WisCon is a feminist convention, but men are welcome. ;) You don't have to be a published author to be on a panel at WisCon, though that may change as the con size keeps growing. WisCon draws both fans and writers, but I would say it's skewed more towards writers. World Fantasy is almost all professionals (writers, publishers, and agents). The websites are at and


Maria Zannini said...

Thanks, Sandra! WisCon comes up continually as a good solid conference. Thanks for bringing it up.

terrio said...

Last week I attended RWA in San Fran and you are so right. Talk about information overload! I'm still struggling to recover.

My local RWA chapter together with a neighboring chapter has a pretty good one-day workshop coming up in November. We're a romance chapter, obviously, but this workshop is good for any writer. We're bringing in Deb Dixon to dig deep with the Hero's Journey and GMC. She wrote the book - literally - so it's going to be great.

Plus, it's in Historic Williamsburg, VA so you get a little history with your writing stuff. Here's a link for more info.

Maria Zannini said...

Hi terrio!
It'd be worth going just to hear Dixon. I wondered if she did any cons.


terrio said...

Maria - As I'm conference chair and registrar, consider this your official invitation. LOL!

Deb stays pretty busy from what I understand. I missed meeting her at Nationals so I'm looking forward to meeting her this fall.

Maria Zannini said...

LOL! Sounds more like a mandate, terrio. Thanks for the invite!

Unfortunately, I don't even know where I'll be living next month, let alone November. I'm thinking of making up a sign for me and my dog that says: Homeless, Will work for dog cookies.

Mike Keyton said...

Homeless, Will work for dog cookies.

Sounds like a job description for teaching in London

Maria Zannini said...


...wait a minute. Why am I laughing?

Heather said...

Hi, Maria! That's a great roundup. I love going to Comic-Con in San Diego, and the author panels hosted by Mysterious Galaxy Books offer a lot for aspiring writers.

Maria Zannini said...

Ooh, I forgot about the comic cons. That's a great suggestion.
Thanks, Heather!