Pros and Cons

I received invitations recently to serve as a panelist on two conventions, MALCon in August and Orycon in November. I suppose I will accept and attend. However, I have been considering whether or not I should.

For many of the fans of the sort of fiction involving spaceships and magical swords (my genres, gentle reader) conventions are essential events on the social calendar. I went to my first at, as I recall, the age of eighteen and attended a few others before being invited to come as a writer and sit on the other side of the table.

What I’ve been wondering is whether convention attendance holds value. Are the con-goers getting anything from my contribution? Do they care if I am there? Am I in some way contributing to a sense of community? Is this an expected way for authors to show appreciation for the readers? Am I receiving any value? Does my name recognition flutter up even a trifle? Do my book sales increase after a convention? Does it matter if I am getting anything out of it; is convention attendance simply good form on the part of an author?

Do I want to shell out for airfare to Denver and a hotel room? That’s an August weekend I could spend with my family. I recognize the part conventions play in the lives of many — a chance to meet friends seen only at these get togethers, an opportunity to gather with like-minded individuals, etc. The truth is that cons don’t play such a role in my life. In fact, despite the fact that I am both a consumer and producer of the kind of entertainment celebrated at science-fiction conventions, I often feel somewhat of an outsider.

So let me ask you, gentle reader, if you attend science-fiction contentions, what benefit do you derive? What ideally would you get from the experience? Do you think conventions still have a role to play?

Well, I’m still inclined to go. If you see me at either of the cons I mentioned above, please come say hello. I’ll probably be at the bar.