Yay, convention season!
Sort of. It’s been a long summer, with ridiculously bad travel-luck.
However, after a (very) brief break, I’m back on the road for GenCon, North Carolina and Dragon*Con.
First up: GenCon: Indianapolis.
This is my first time here, so please be kind. I am happy to meet you, but I am embarrassingly bad at translating names and faces from online to meatspace. So feel free to come say ‘hi’ if you see me, but you’ll get theoretical cookies of joy if you tell me your name AND where you know me from. If that place is Twitter and your username is not your real name, please let me know the username. Seriously. I’m that bad with names.
I don’t have much of a schedule for GenCon yet, except lots of meetings, one or two games (pray for me, it’s been years since I played), keeping Lily alive and getting into trouble with, well, everyone. I’ll also be helping out at the Eden Studios table, it looks like.
If you have some questions or want to schedule a meeting to talk publicity after I’m off the road, I’m always happy to do so. I do have to make a living though, so please understand that I charge for any Q&As over 10 minutes, and will need to schedule those for after Dragon*Con.
Then, it’s on to North Carolina for a week or so. I’m going to try and make it to Raleigh for an evening, so if there’s something cool going on between August 20-26, let me know! I’ll be in Charlotte and Charleston the rest of the time, catching up and getting ready to for Dragon*Con.
SFWA will have a table and signings at Dragon*Con! We confirmed a few weeks ago, and we’re racking up a very nice list of participating authors. Keep an eye on the SFWA website and Twitter feeds for more on that.
I’ll also be moderating at least 2 panels: Race in SF (gods help me…) and the official Z*Con Panel! Michael Dougherty and I have been friends and colleagues since my first Dragon*Con almost 5 years ago, and I’ve been doing some consulting on Z*Con. This is a fantastic opportunity, and I’m looking forward to catching up with old friends.
My schedule is pretty packed, but I’ll be at the SFWA table in the Fan Table area (between the exhibit and dealer hall areas) most of the day, so that’s the best place to find me if you want to say ‘hi’ or bring me good Scotch or coffee. Both are quite welcome, really. Appease the anti-mornings publicist!
After that, thankfully, it’s back home for a long, long while. Aside from a local convention in November (the one I posted about earlier), all travel until April should be lower-key and not convention-related. As much as I love seeing friends and working conventions, I’ve been going without a real break since April, and I’m wearing out a little.
Feel free to drop me a note on Twitter or FB if you’ll be at one of the conventions so that I know to watch for you.
P.S.: I will not be at WorldCon or World Fantasy Convention this year. I committed to Dragon*Con early this year, and WFC is just too expensive. I’m sad to be missing out, but lift a drink for me, will you?
I was at the Clarkesworld table at ReaderCon, selling books, when I first heard about the harassment going on. My first thought was “Oh, thank god it’s ReaderCon. This won’t be an issue like that guy at WFC”.
It wasn’t. Everyone was supportive, and no one had to call hotel security to have him escorted off the premises before he physically assaulted a woman. But it continued all weekend, and a complaint was finally lodged. About that time, I heard from someone else who had been dealing with this precise person. She’d been subjected to longer-term, more aggressive harassment. She was so happy to see that he’d done it in public, where other people had witnessed it, at a convention that had a no tolerance policy.
Well, the verdict has been rendered. No tolerance is, well, kinda no tolerance. Two years. He’s banned for two years.
I’ve been subjected to this sort of harassment before, to the point that I brought my then-boyfriend to an event with me and had him have a chat with the guy. Everyone else told me it was just “X being X”. It wasn’t physically dangerous, although the hugs and touches left me cringing. But, newsflash: it was still harassment. I still felt unsafe. In fact, I felt MORE unsafe because no one took it seriously, and that meant no one would pay attention if something more serious happened.
It’s dehumanizing, depressing, frustrating and, over time, fear-inducing for a lot of people. And while I’ve been told, time and again to ‘ignore it’, ‘let it go’, ‘just stay with people you trust’, ‘it’s just you’, ‘I’ve never had it happen to me, so it’s not a problem’, this is a huge problem. From inappropriate comments to outright date-rape, this is a wide-spread disease in fandom, and one that is leaving scars.
When we were dealing with the World Fantasy 2011 stalker, we looked to ReaderCon and WisCon as shining examples of safe places and havens where we could go and relax. With this verdict, it is almost worse than having no support at all, no policy, no protection.
Come on, fandom. This has to stop NOW. No more harassment. No more ‘well, it’s not that bad’. No more ‘we can’t really do anything because he’s important in X community and this would make enemies’. Yeah, any solution or answer is going to suck for someone. Enemies will be made. The waters will be choppy for a while. Deal with it.
This is not something I’ve forgotten about. But I barely have time to keep my own work going. I’m a full-time freelancer, and working 18 hour days as it is. I support it whole-heartedly, and if there are people who can get the ball rolling, I am willing to be the face or voice or whatever you might want. We have a lot of support, a lot of solid backers. I have plenty of ideas, but no time, resources or experience in this particular arena.
I’ll be a guest at ConVolution, a new local SF convention. This is entirely the fault of Lee Moyer and Venetia Charles, who introduced me to the organizers.
However, I’ll actually be earning my keep! I’ll be leading a workshop on publicity and professional self-promotion. The details are still rather nebulous, so stay tuned for details around October.
I’m off to New York for the beginning of a month of work away from home. I’ll be manning the table for Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Tuesday-Thursday, booth 3591. If you’re at the expo, come on by and see us! We’ll also have authors like Laura Anne Gilman, Myke Cole, Ellen Kushner and Holly Black, so check the SFWA site for a signing schedule.
Editor’s Note: This post comes from a dear friend who has been wrestling with the problem of where to post such a personal thing. I offered my site as a safe, anonymous place to post.
Because it is a sensitive subject and on my personal site, I WILL be deleting any negative or harmful comments, so please consider your response carefully and keep it respectful. Above all, read with an open mind, please. I’d like to start seeing positive, accurate portrayals of alternative mind-structures and mental illness in my fiction, thank you.
I’m schizophrenic. Writing this is difficult for me. English is my native language, but disordered thoughts are part of my life now. The words don’t want to come out right, whether I’m talking or typing.
I don’t see anyone like me in fiction. Male or female. Usually, we’re cast as murderers, or savants. Soothsayers. Catatonics. People tell their writers to make things more schizoid, when they’re trying to say something else. Make it more erratic. Confused. Hallucinatory.
Schizoid, if you don’t want to look it up, is defined as “pertaining to a personality disorder marked by dissociation, passivity, withdrawal, inability to form warm social relationships, and indifference to praise or criticism.”
I don’t see it used accurately very often.
Because you’re writers, you might want to start here; it’s an Australian site for media professionals on reporting about suicide and mental illness. There’s also the NIMH site on schizophrenia, which is a cornucopia of info. When I see schizophrenia portrayed in expertly in fiction, I think that maybe you just don’t do your homework.
I don’t need you to care about me or my case in specific. I just need you to be mindful. If people can tell you to just write characters as people —not as women or disabled or children or whatever —you should be able to do that for the mentally ill, too. You never see characters before the psychotic break, you don’t ever show the struggle for recovery.
Some of us become schizophrenic as children, or in our teens. As happily married adults. Middle-aged. Elderly. Most of us were people with normal lives until this happened. And that’s all some of us want to go back to. We’re not monsters.
When I had my psychotic break, I lost everything. My job, my spouse, my grip on reality, my life. Under the disease is the person everybody thought would be a politician or a lawyer. A doctor. I was a socially adept person who could work a room, and loved every minute of it. I was the one everybody thought would go as far as they wanted.
I don’t feel like that person anymore. I’ve made a new life, sure, but it’s one with unsteady legs at times. It’s one where I try to keep quiet that I’m schizophrenic, because I’m afraid it’ll tank my career if I’m too public.
I probably could have said all of this in a sentence, but I have to fight for the words to figure out how to tell you what I’m thinking.
You’re writers. You can do better by your stories, and by people like me, than you have.
*edit* A friend linked me to her blog from a while back on this same subject, for those of you who want more insight. No Mental Conditions Allowed
I’m earning my keep at this one! I have 6 panels in 2 days. Haven’t heard if I’m moderating any of them yet, but since I seem to moderate about 50% of the panels I’m on, it’s quite likely. I’m also pleased to see that I know at least one person on every panel, except the two I’m most nervous about. Any port in a storm, although Marty and I are already conspiring.
1. How to Develop Your Marketing as an Author on Saturday from 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM in Winchester (with Tony N. Todaro, Laurel Anne Hill, Dave Trowbridge, Emerian Rich, Dani Kollin)
What every author needs to know or what to do to make their books and stories sell after they are published.
2. Self-Promotion and Publicity for Writers on Saturday from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM in Ballroom D (with Tony N. Todaro, Dave Trowbridge, Clare Bell, Marty Halpern)
So you’ve figured out this whole writing thing and your work is finally out there. Wouldn’t it be great if people actually bought it? Just because the publisher bought your book doesn’t mean they’re going to publicize it. Learn the whys and hows of self-promotion from the experts.
3. Editors, Agents, and other Endangered Species on Saturday from 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM in Camino Real (with Jay Hartlove, Tony N. Todaro, Marty Halpern, Dario Ciriello)
(I’ve never met Tony, but he’s going to be sick of me by the end of the weekend!)
Amazon, with its in-house eBook self-publishing and print-on-demand books, along with their own publishing deals for selected authors, is looking to completely supplant publishers, their editors, and the agents they work with. Will this be successful? Will it work? What dangers lurk behind the untrammeled masses of would-be writers?
4. Defining Alternative Lifestyles on Sunday from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM in Lawrence (with Franklin Veaux, Lon Sarver, D.M. Atkins, Ian Grey, Brad Nelson)
(Whoops, I don’t actually know anyone on this panel. Pretty nervous about this one, just on its own merits.)
It’s not just about who you sleep with. Panelists discuss alternative lifestyles that have worked for themselves and others, as well as how to avoid pitfalls.
5. Erotic Science Fiction and Fantasy on Sunday from 2:30 PM to 4:00 PM in Lawrence (with Lon Sarver, Veronica Belmont, D.M. Atkins)
(PERFECT timing! I wonder if I could sneak Lee in with me?)
Boy meets girl meets robot meets vampire: what makes for good erotica in worlds with different rules than ours?
6. Alternative Lifestyles and Sci-Fi/Fantasy on Sunday from 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM in Lafayette (with Kyle Aisteach, Chaz Brenchley, Lon Sarver, D.M. Atkins, Ian Grey, Andrew Clark, Brad Nelson)
From Heinlein’s line marriage to Ethan of Athos, a discussion of alternative lifestyles, chosen or otherwise.
So, there we have it. I’m talking about erotica, promotions and alternative lifestyles. Throw a panel on horses in there, and it’s me in a nutshell. Don’t necessarily expect coherence though: between traveling and event prep, I’m already forgetting English.
I’ll be holding down a spot in the bar on Saturday night, continuing last year’s excellent impromptu Barcon. Please come by and see me.
In advance: I’m not ranting, I’m not calling anyone out or trying to make anyone look silly. Snippiness of tone is the result of a frustrating week and a looming train to catch, but this is important.
I received a query today from a new writer who was bewildered by publishers who said ‘we don’t accept unsolicited manuscripts’, and ‘you need an agent’ and the SFWA site.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first such query I’ve received. My inbox is full of ‘HALP I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO’ emails from new authors. We’ll ignore the fact that, as a publicist, that’s not really my job, and focus on the core issue here:
Writing is a business. It’s a business of art, but It is a business and it must be treated as such. If you don’t understand and prepare for that reality, you set yourself up for failure, right from the start.
Another thing that baffles me: publishing people are, apparently, all the same to new writers. I get queries about everything from browser cookies to selling a manuscript. Would you really email an accountant who doesn’t know you from Adam with a query about copyright law? Granted, a lot of us blur the borders and publishing is much more intertwined than, say, accounting, but still. You’re already starting off on the wrong foot when you don’t research the person you are asking for help.
And may the gods be with you if you email a busy professional with a query answered by openly-published, freely-available, easily-found, basic information. Don’t even think about the ‘I don’t have time!’ excuse, because if you don’t have time to understand the basics, you don’t have time to be a writer. Period. The days of ‘write story. Send publisher. Receive money. Repeat.’ are over. It’s the equivalent of a full-to-part-time job.
That concluded, here’s the reply I sent to the writer who was frustrated, any unique information removed.
“Secondly, welcome to the writing industry. Publishers are swamped with manuscripts that ARE solicited. Most of them have guidelines saying ‘please do not send unsolicited manuscripts’, and ignoring those guidelines doesn’t make friends.
What I suggest is that you take some time to learn the business of writing before you go back to submitting manuscripts. There are literally hundreds of resources on everything from finishing a manuscript to finding an agent. Google ‘how to be a professional writer’, and check out Absolute Write, the SFWA blog and Inkpunks.com, to start off.
Writing is, perhaps unfortunately, not a hobby or a spare-time project anymore. You need to understand how the industry works before you can expect to even sell a manuscript. Even if you were to get lucky and catch an agent immediately, you need to know a lot more about the business than it sounds like you do now.
As far as SFWA goes, we’re an organization for professional writers who are making sales and publishing regularly. Like any guild, you join after you have a resume of professionally-sold work. Our guidelines and costs are listed on the site, so please take time to read what we have freely posted.
I wish you the best of luck, but caution you that the world of writing is going to require a lot of hard work, initiative and research, and there are a lot of people looking to make a quick buck off of someone who doesn’t understand the business.”
Do your homework, folks. Do. Your. Homework.
My client list has filled up for the moment. I have a budget due on March 15, the Nebula Awards to publicize for, several clients to wrap up, and one major client in the last stretch before the big day. I am also hard at work making the next Single Cell event the best one yet, and I will be doing a string of cross-country events that will have me in traveling mode from mid-May to the end of June.
Ergo, the soonest I can start on another big project is July 2. I can still do consultation calls, and will be happy to discuss how to help *you* promote your book. I will also schedule you for summer and fall publicity.
Please keep in mind: book promotions do not start the day the book is published, or even a week ahead. To properly promote your book, I need a 3 month lead-time. This reduces stress and increases results. Even if you just want a little extra notice around the release-time, I need a minimum of a month’s advance. So if you have a book publishing this summer, get in touch with me now and let me have that on my radar.
However, many authors can do the bulk of promotions themselves. This is why I stress a consultation call first. If money or time are an issue, by all means, set up a call with me and we’ll get you on your feet.
The response to the harassment incident at WFC has been amazing. First off, I’d like to thank EVERYONE who has spoken up, contacted me, spread the word, or just read any one of the blog posts. EVERY bit counts.
The only problem, and it is a good problem to have, is that we have support and volunteers flowing in…and nowhere to direct them. I didn’t think there would be this much response, so I’m caught behind the game. We need to get things going while everyone is still thinking about it, still checking the hashtags.
But I don’t know what to call it. We’re going to be a grievance committee, promoting safe spaces, educating people, developing allies, raising voices. We have every shape, size, color and orientation.
I’m not sure how to label that.
Which is why I’m turning to you brilliant people! For the next week, I’ll be listening to name suggestions. I can’t promise I’ll take any, but I’m hoping there’s one in there that makes me go ‘omg perfect!’.
Things to remember:
Google it. I had a couple of ideas. One of them led me to a survivalist site. While this has interesting possibilities…
Keep it inclusive. Enough said.
If your idea happens to have a cool acronym, awesome. But, seriously, check and make sure it isn’t something that will haunt the group forever, please?
If I DO choose the name, I’ll ask for all rights to it. Eventually, I intend to get this thing incorporated and all that good stuff. Until then, I’ll be holding ALL rights, contracts and information. If you aren’t comfortable with it, please tell me ahead of time.
Final words? Ya’ll are amazing. Thank you, again.
As some of you might have heard, the harasser at World Fantasy claimed to work for EDGE Publishing, and was soliciting manuscripts for them. Recently, rumors have spread that someone at EDGE protected the harasser and was responsible for him being allowed to stay.
I have just gotten off the phone with Anita Hades, who confirmed what I had heard about the situation before the rumors started.
1.) The aggressor has one story published in an EDGE anthology: Evolve 2, edited by Nancy Kilpatrick. He has no further involvement with them, and he does not work for them in an editorial capacity.
2.) When I first saw his claims, I spoke with Anita and Brian, the owners, who were extremely upset that he was slandering them with his false claims of employment. At the time, we discussed rearranging the EDGE readings that night so that he would not be involved. Ron and Val Ontell were the ones with the ultimate say whether or not he would be evicted, and they elected to give him another chance.
3.) When we found out that he had been given another chance, Anita came to me, very upset. At the time, there was nothing more that they could do without potentially causing a scene. Because he is not their employee, they did not have the grounds to exclude him. WFC policy states that a room rented from them has to be open to all convention members.
4.) When the situation was resolved, both Brian and Anita thanked the Ontells and me for having resolved the issue.
5.)EDGE does not tolerate this sort of behavior. The person in question will not be published by them, allowed into EDGE-run events, or supported in any capacity.
If you have any more questions about this, please feel free to let me know.