?

Log in

No account? Create an account
 
 
25 April 2011 @ 12:45 pm
Mortification Monday  
I was invited to my first real Con about four years ago. They asked me if I wanted to do a reading, and I said yes, of course I did. And a signing. Definitely! I came at the right time, walked up to the registration and got my badge. I found the room I was to be signing in and sat down. I was alone for a while. Luckily, I had brought someone else's book to read to myself.
So this is the story of my worst appearance/signing:

I was invited to my first real Con about four years ago. They asked me if I wanted to do a reading, and I said yes, of course I did. And a signing. Definitely! I came at the right time, walked up to the registration and got my badge. I found the room I was to be signing in and sat down. I was alone for a while. Luckily, I had brought someone else's book to read to myself. After about ten minutes, a lone preteen girl came in, ushered by her parents, who was clearly eager to get rid of her so that she could go off to an "adult author's panel." She told the girl that I would watch over her until she came back, and then looked at me. I wondered if I was supposed to show her my babysitting credentials.


Still, game, I read to the girl for a few minutes. Then the door opened. I looked up, thinking that perhaps more people had come to hear me reading. Instead, about a half dozen people came in, talking loudly to each other and began to set up for the next hour's presentation on--sewing costumes. I tried to keep reading over them. Then they left. I sighed relief until they came in--again! And talked over me--again! The third time they came in, I walked over to them, explained rather curtly that I was doing a reading and that I had the room until the next hour. They looked at their watches, claimed that my time was almost over anyway, and besides, they had to set up. What were they supposed to do?

I gave up, and walked over to my signing. There I discovered that the bookstore had not bothered to purchase a single one of my titles and everyone seemed to expect that I would bring my own books. I actually had three of them, which I had brought for the reading and to show people at any panels I attended. So I set them up as if to sell them. One of the conference organizers walked by and clearly, taking pity on me, picked up my book, looked at the back cover and asked me what it was about. I told him. He shrugged, said, "Well, that sounds like the kind of book I would definitely not like to read," and left.
 
 
 
(Deleted comment)
Michael M Jonesoneminutemonkey on April 25th, 2011 07:19 pm (UTC)
Ouch, that sounds like an awful con. I'm so sorry that happened.
:(
d_michiko_f on April 25th, 2011 07:40 pm (UTC)
ACK! How can people be so rude and clueless!?
metteharrisonmetteharrison on April 25th, 2011 07:42 pm (UTC)
You know, I honestly think he was not trying to be rude. This guy I have met at subsequent cons and he is just kind of clueless. We are friends of a sort now. It's funny how something that was so painful when it happened is now just a source of laughter for me. People at cons are wonderful, but sometimes not so much for the social skills.
Janni Lee Simnerjanni on April 26th, 2011 06:29 pm (UTC)
I feel sometimes like traditional cons need--I don't know, some sort of welcoming committee that's better equipped to deal with ordinary folks who are expecting this to be an ordinary conference. Because like you, I love them now, but diving in the first few times is really hard, partly because of this sort of thing. I can remember at early cons walking up to various people, extending a hand, saying, "hi, I'm Janni," and getting ... well, stared at, as if the people I'd walked up to were wondering who I was and why I was being so strange as to talk to them.

While walking up to someone in the dealer's room, and commenting on a genre book or piece of jewelry they're admiring ... sharing in any common interest ... that works much better for starting a conversation.

Cons don't work by the same social rules as other gatherings, and all the things that served me well in other contexts just often fell flat there.

Not helped out by the fact that at conferences of other sorts, part of the goal truly is to meet new people. But at traditional SF/fantasy cons, most attendees are there to meet up with old friends, glom onto them quickly, and often unintentionally give off an air of "this conversation is not for newcomers."

(In many ways Sirens is an example of what a fannish con could/should be, though I know that wouldn't work in all contexts.)

Edited at 2011-04-26 06:30 pm (UTC)
paulwoodlin on April 26th, 2011 07:07 pm (UTC)
Well, if it helps, I once observed a signing in which one author had a long line of people waiting while the other two writers had almost no one at all. Of course, the first author was Ursula K. LeGuin, so the other two just shrugged and accepted it.