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sartorias has a wonderful post about etiquette guidelines for Worldcons here:


The guidelines are, in many ways, for new writers, or for new writers who hope to treat the Worldcon as an entry into the professional world. They're very helpful, excellent pieces of advice, to which I would like to add:

2a. You can learn a lot by attending program items featuring agents.

At Confluence, someone asked me how I had gotten started (to which I replied, submitted my first novel to Del Rey), and how I had found an agent (to which I replied, I approached one in person, spoke to him about the Lester Del Rey response said submission had initially received (which was a "not this book because x, y, z, you moron, but if you fixed x, y, z, -then- you might have something worth reading", and no, it wasn't really a figurative moron <wry g>) and asked said agent if he had any interest in reading the revision.

The young man replied, "You talked to an agent?? But how? No one even showed any interest in my query letters."

And I answered "I went to a Worldcon, went to all the panels that agents were on, listened to all of them talk, and then approached one whose name I recognized from prior research and who I thought had spoken well."

This hadn't occurred to the writer, but I sort of assume that's a large part of the reason agents take on a public role on panels at Worldcons (my current agent, afaik, has never done a panel at a Worldcon since I started going to them).

sartorias's rule about not taking a 500 page manuscript (or larger, so no rules weaselling) to hand to editors also applies to agents. No one is going to read it at the convention, so unless you've made prior arrangements to deliver it there, don't.

I'd also add one last rule:

5. Have fun.

I'm dead serious about this. An interesting and relevant aside: Another author of my acquaintance asked me just this year about an editor we had both met at a convention (local). I said I didn't know much about said editor, but that yes, his general persona implied a certain distance or testiness, and then asked why she thought I'd know, since I don't publish with his house and have never worked with him.

She said, "You always seem so plugged-in."

You could have knocked me over with a feather. I pointed out that she went to far more conventions than I did; with the children at home, I go to one or two a year (okay, one a year until the last two years). Her turn to be surprised, but she went on to observe that I must be good at networking.

Okay, that feather thing again.

Once I got up, I thought about what she said. I think it comes down to this: I don't do anything that doesn't look like fun. This goes for everything at a Worldcon, including talking to editors. If it's not fun to speak with a specific editor? I don't do it. I am guaranteed to get away from home once a year, and even if it's in theory for business reasons I'm selfish enough not to want to spend that time putting on a fake smile and pretending I'm enjoying something I'm not. If it's fun to speak with an editor, even if I think there's no chance I'd ever submit to them (or that they'd ask <wry g>), I speak with the editor. Ditto pretty much everything else at a convention.

Because if you're there to "network" and you're having a miserable time? I don't think it does you any good at all. Unless you're a fabulous actor, or at least a much, much better actor than I am <wry g>. For the last several years, I've had no conscious awareness of networking at all. But I guess, from the outside, it looks like I must.

Plus... networking is part serendipity, and sometimes it's decided far after the fact. A number of the people I met and liked in, say, 1989, were not "anybodies" of note at that time. Many had just begun, like I had, to dip their toe into the publishing pond. I enjoyed talking with them because it was fun, and as they wore no editor/agent/famous author badges, that was, in fact, the only reason to do so.

But... Years later, some of these people were editing, or selling a lot of novels, etc., etc. Seeing them now is still fun -- but it looks like networking from the outside because the history isn't as obvious.


5a. Go meet your peers.

People who are in the position you're in now will often be in the position you're in later, and they can make soldiering in the trenches, if not fun, then a lot less isolated.

Some of them, though, will begin to edit anthologies, some will have done well enough that they might offer to read and cover quote you, etc. You won't have any idea right now who those people will be -- but if you really feel that you must justify every moment spent at your first Worldcon as a business moment to justify the expense of being there, think of every unknown as a future possibility <g>.


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 4th, 2004 05:17 am (UTC)
I'd add: When introduced to editors/agents/writers, don't launch into a barrage of every plot point of your massive opus. Instead, get to know them as people. If they ask about your book, then you can tell them, but keep it down to a few sentences and stop. If they're really interested, they'll ask more questions.
Aug. 4th, 2004 05:18 am (UTC)
Oh -- and it appears I will be at worldcon. Will you?
Aug. 4th, 2004 10:30 am (UTC)
Oh -- and it appears I will be at worldcon. Will you?

Yes! I'll be going with andpuff. I saw the mention in your LJ, but wasn't certain if you'd worked out airflight details yet, so I was holding off on comment <g>. I'm looking forward to seeing you there!
Aug. 4th, 2004 05:45 am (UTC)
Oddly enough, they're often interesting people. :)

Gosh, when I saw sdn for the first time the last thing I thought about was, "Hey, it's an editor!" Instead, I ended up asking about her hair. That woman has a mane like a river of flame. Wow!

I know, I'm struck dumb by hair. It's so sad. :D
Aug. 4th, 2004 10:32 am (UTC)
I know, I'm struck dumb by hair. It's so sad. :D

It's not just you <g>. I'm struck dumb by hair, and often feel a palpable sense of either outrage or loss when people cut it all off. I'm not sure if this is leftover from the age of braiding hair in class circles (which would be, oh, kindergarten and grade one), or if it's just a very particular geek gene which says "long hair pretty", but I've never managed to shake it.

Even though I know long hair is also inconvenient, harder to wash & maintain, etc., etc.

Aug. 4th, 2004 10:51 am (UTC)
Yeah. And I live in the worst possible climate for long hair (both extremely hot and extremely humid). I was shocked when I visited the north and the west and discovered that there are climates where long hair is a boon.

I have a lot of hair. I keep not having the time to get it cut. No doubt I will show up at Worldcon with it still this length, despite telling myself for half a year that I should get it thinned and trimmed. Ah well.

But if you see sdn, ask her about setting her hair on fire by accident. :D
Aug. 4th, 2004 12:38 pm (UTC)
Sharyn has some of the best hair I've ever seen at a convention (or anywhere.) Mary Ann Harris' (Charles de Lint's wife) is also quite nice, but not as fiery.

Aug. 4th, 2004 12:50 pm (UTC)
I will have to keep an eye out. *does the hopelessly-in-love-with-hair stare*
Aug. 4th, 2004 06:40 pm (UTC)
Sharyn has some of the best hair I've ever seen at a convention (or anywhere.) Mary Ann Harris' (Charles de Lint's wife) is also quite nice, but not as fiery.

Now I want to meet Sharyn. Ummm, because she's an editor. Right. Hair has nothing to do with it.

This is probably -so- not the professional thing to say in a thread that started, in theory, about something professional -- but, oh well <g>. Mary Ann is beautiful. She's just one of those radiant people. She always makes me feel gawky and awkward simply by being herself -- she's gracious, she's funny, she's lovely. To borrow a friend's phrase, standing beside her makes me feel like I'm a linebacker who's just gotten up from the bottom of a large pile-on.

And, of course, she would never, ever consciously try to make anyone feel this way.
Aug. 4th, 2004 05:48 am (UTC)
Peer groups! That's actually happening with mine right now; all of a sudden, all the geeky young writers and 'zine editors I have been hanging around with for the past three years are bsuting out all over the place.
Aug. 4th, 2004 06:27 am (UTC)
These are excellent additions!
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )