I was so impressed by Genrecon this weekend, a Sydney writing conference run by the Queensland Writers Centre. It’s rare in SF/Fantasy to get a convention so completely devoted to industry and the professional side of genre that this felt more intensely useful to me than any other event I’ve been to in years. (Conflux is probably the one that has come closest)
Useful, insightful, inspiring, depressing and terrifying. All of those things!
But while many of the discussion panels about the state of the industry, the disappearance of the midlist and the author advance, and how authors simply can’t afford to ignore the twin monoliths of Amazon and Facebook even if they loathe everything they stand for, and so on, left me and many of my peers slumped in our chairs stabbing ourselves with imaginary knives, what I have taken away from Genrecon is actually inspiring.
Not inspired about my writing, which is ticking along pretty well okay on its own, but about writing as a business, which is something we authors often get embarrassed or squeamish about, to our own detriment.
So I now have a much clearer idea of what I need from an agent, and how hard it is going to be to get one, of various potential income streams I can try to set up as an experienced writer, and why I’m going to need to do that rather than hoping my fiction ship will come in on a regular basis. Most of all, I came away with the stunning realisation all over again that I am not alone.
I met more people, and did more effective ‘networking’ than I think I ever have before. Mostly the new people I met were from other genres (and holy hell, we even speak different languages, a good thing we’re all so nice and the only turf war was between all of us and the drunken racegoers in their shiny suits and fascinators) or other corners of the industry that the internet hadn’t yet tugged me towards.
And while the TansyRR in me was taking in a lot, plotting diabolically with friends, and cementing old acquaintances, I do think it was Livia Day who got the most out of the event. *hugs the Sisters in Crime people*. I got to see so many writers who do exactly what I am trying to do – balancing more than one writer identities – and that allowed me to make some informed choices about how to do that.
All this, plus the extraordinary Ginger Clark keynote speech, plus Sarah Wendell’s ‘let me take you on a tour on how you may be doing the internet wrong.’I regret not signing up for pitches because that was an exciting and vibrant aspect of the convention, and I enjoyed talking to people before and after their experience – both those pitching and those pitched to. Most of all, I loved the format of the con – not only was the program reasonably leisurely and very balanced, the catering of morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea (and ok the relative isolation of the hotel) meant that we all socialised together, in the same place, talking shop and allowing greater excuse to introduce ourselves to more new people instead of all disappearing off to different cafes with our mates.
For old hands like me it was good to break old habits (and oh didn’t you feel silly when everyone disappeared to the actual program, leaving you to pick a workshop or drink tea on your own!), to get out of my squishy comfort zone, and to interact with a whole bunch of amazing friendly people who had new and different experiences to share in this crazy changing industry of ours. But I got the impression it was also awesome for newbies, whether they were aspiring authors, self published authors or recently signed authors who haven’t done the convention thing before, simply because everything was set up to make introductions.
I wonder also if the whole thing of blending different genres, meaning that EVERYONE had whole crowds of people they didn’t know at the event, maybe made the “power balance” a bit different to most cons? We’ve never had anything like this before so we were all out of our comfort zone, and more likely to confide in strangers!
Well done to the QWC, good show and all that. So glad they are planning to make this a regular event.