Write Tip: Top 10 Writer Lessons Learned From Cons & Appearances

Love it or hate it, for the modern author Conventions and Appearances come with the job. These can be a great deal of fun or  a great deal of stress or both. I’ve done 9 Cons since 2010, 5 since March 2012.  (You can check out my appearances here.) I’ve enjoyed them all for different reasons and yet some were better than others. Still, overall, the contact with fellow creatives and the public is a stimulant to creativity even if it drains time away from writing while I’m there. The biggest strain, of course, is budget. Cons are not cheap. But still, if you take the time to learn how to maximize them, there can be great benefits. Here are Ten Lessons I’ve learned from Cons and Appearances so far:

1) Selling Books Is Hard. A good signing/appearance tends to be around 12-13 books for me so far. As a new, relatively unknown author, it’s really hard to get people to try out your stuff. You do readings at which 4 attendees is a good turnout. You do bookstore appearances/signings and are happy if three people an hour actually stop to talk. At Cons, you do tons of panels and hand out info cards and are happy if people take them with any enthusiasm. In dealer’s rooms, if 5% of those who stop to look buy your book, you’ve done well. If you are a writer thinking selling the book is the easy part, think again. It’s hard. I don’t know how this compares with those whose publishers have thousands to spend promoting their books, but for micropress writers like me with promotion coming from my own time and money, selling books is hard.

2) Face-To-Face Matters. I realize many authors are socially awkward. We spend so much time alone by ourselves writing that social skills are not being developed. And many of us started out socially awkward in the first place. Thus, public appearances can be nerve-wracking and stressful. Still, nothing gets people’s interest like a face-to-face encounter. If you’re nice, funny, interesting, etc., people take notice. They realize you might be someone whose voice they’d like to spend time with listening. And this leads to sales and word of mouth. It’s a slow process, in my experience, but I’ve definitely seen it enough to know it’s true.

3) Most of Your Sales Come After Cons Online Or In Stores.  No matter how few or many books sell at a Con or appearance, I always know more a week or two later by looking at online sales and Author Central. Almost always we see numbers increase from people who met me or saw me at a distance and went to buy my books. I don’t know if this is because they don’t trust buying from you, worry about pressure sales if they approach or what. PayPal is secure, people. Whatever the reasons, I do see most sales coming from online or stores, even when I offer discounts through my website store, which I still can’t figure out.

4) Partnering With Dealers Has Advantages And Disadvantages. If you’re going to a Con, it’s always good to check out the dealers and see if you can find someone to either order copies of your book to sell or accept them from you on consignment. You will be expected to offer 25-40% of the price to the vendor, but I have still been able to sell books at a slight discount off retail when doing this. The bigger issues come from expectations. One, you should expect the vendor to display your books in a way that customers will see them, but not necessarily center stage and upstaging the vendor’s own wares. Two, pairing with a bookseller for books is better than pairing with another type of vendor. Vendors selling gadgets and toys will get customers who are easily distracted from books by their other wares. Clothing vendors have customers who aren’t looking for books. And so on. Booksellers are the best bet, but regardless of the vendor’s product, all of them expect you to get people to the table and come by to help sell your book. Working with booksellers makes this easier because they know how books sell, even those by unknown authors. Their expectations will therefore be appropriate. A toy vendor I worked with complained that I didn’t jump up and run out to pitch every customer who touched my book. My experience is that having a table between you is less intimidating than standing next to them on the sales side of the table and that being pushy is less effective than being casual and nice. Offer to answer questions, tell them a little about it, and even offer to sign it, yes, but being pushy is something to do at your own risk. Vendors don’t always understand because you are taking table space from their wares and sometimes the stuff they sell is sold well with a bit of push.

5) Plan Time To Be In The Dealer Room. If you have product for sale, it’s a really good idea to plan time to be at the dealer table greeting customers, signing, etc. Not just because of what I said in item 4 but because not everyone will see you at panels, readings, etc., and sometimes knowing the author is there makes buying a book more enticing. So check out the dealer room hours, compare it to your schedule for panels, etc., and plan some time. Remember: dealer rooms keep daytime hours. They will close at night, even when panels are still ongoing, so if you can, use the gaps during dealer room hours to be present and save your alone time, etc. at night for the much needed breaks. One good way to do this is to plan to bring carryout food to eat in the Dealer’s Room and eat behind the table so you can jump up and greet, etc. when customers stop by. Also, be sure and help sell the vendor’s other items, too. It shows a commitment to team and partnership that vendors will really appreciate.

6) Learn To Set Limits. Cons and appearances are tiring. You can only do so much. Overcommit at your own peril.I’d say 2-3 panels a day is a pretty good chunk, especially if you have readings and signings on top of that. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but when you wind up doing two morning panels and then two late a night, you will realize your day has gotten really long quick. Also, being on panels requires a lot of focus. You have to be cheerful and nice and smiling, and you also have to try and give intelligent output, which also requires energy. Plus, banter with fellow panelists is also important. I did 4 programming items a day at the last Con and after the first day felt like I’d done the whole Con already. I was so tired. And I still had another day and a half to go. Some have more energy than others. But this applies especially if you are staying at a cheaper off-site hotel and you don’t have a room to run back to for a nap or recharge. Big Cons, especially, have no quiet corners for that much needed Introvert recharge either. So you can find yourself stuck in crowded, noisy areas for whole days with no real breaks and it wears you out. Also, if you actually plan to attend panels, parties, etc., the more tired and overcommitted you are, the less able you will be to not only participate in those activities but enjoy them.

7) Preparation Saves Stress. Think up questions which you might ask on a panel or might be asked and practice answers. They won’t come out exactly the same way at the time, but at least you’ll have some coordinated, coherent thoughts already floating in your head to pull out and use. If you do get asked to moderate, you’ll have some idea how to approach it. With readings, you need to practice reading slow, at a good pace. If you can read with some character voice changes, it makes it far more interesting than reading with the Ben Stein-drone. At least know which passages you plan to read and how long it takes to read them. And have an idea what you’ll say to introduce the scenes and your book as well as yourself for panels and readings. Keep it short but don’t be afraid to highlight your credentials. And if you’re new, holding up a copy of a book or two is perfectly fine. It creates a visual memory for panel attendees who might later see it in the dealer room and consider buying it.

8 ) Spread Them Out. Doing a Con every weekend may sound fun in theory if you like Cons, but in practical fact, besides being expensive, it’s quite tiring and stressful. Sometimes it will be unavoidable. But most of the time, you can alternate Cons with local signings, readings, etc. in such a way to give yourself time to rest and recover in between. I also think you benefit from geographically spreading out appearances. I blocked out a number of driving distance cons this year and prioritized based on location, cost, guest list, expected attendance, etc. to determine which I should aim for and which I could skip or leave for “if I have time.” If you have books to promote, you can’t really show up last minute and expect to do signings, readings or panels. But if you’re well known or just going to network and participate as a fan, you can definitely just make last minute choices. I like to vary Cons in size a bit but generally Cons of large attendance numbers are easier to get lost and forgotten in than smaller Cons. You also have better chances to do panels at smaller cons, although there are exceptions.

9) Take Pictures.If you have publicists you work with, they will constantly nag you about this. My publicist friend does. If you don’t have that, you should remember and find people to take pictures for you. In every panel, if you get there before hand, you can find a fan who’d be willing to take a few pics. Remember, you get what you get. If you’re anal about pictures and how they’re framed, etc., it’s better to bring your personal photographer along. Otherwise, ask them to shoot several and hope you get something you can use. But pictures are helpful for blogs, PR, websites, and more, so having them is really helpful and if you’re by yourself, you want to be in them, so you’ll need help.

Here Dana, Michael and Doug demonstrate how tired we all feel, while Kelly and I fake alertness as we answer a question. Beware overcommitment–10 p.m. Panel Friday night, 12 hours after Dana, Michael & I started our day at a signing

10) Take Handouts. Have business cards, info postcards, book sell sheets, etc. and make use of the free literature tables scattered throughout Cons. Some have one, most have several. Put your stuff out and stop by from time to time to see if anyone’s taking them or to replenish the stack. Be sure and pick up extras before you leave, although I always leave a few behind for last minute people to take in case. Business cards will be helpful for fellow authors, editors, artists, etc. Postcards with book cover info, your website, a few blurbs, a small bio, etc. are good to hand to fans at panels, signings, etc. I use sell sheets at my book tables for people to take even if they don’t buy the book on the spot. Many people come back Sunday to make their purchases, browsing first to decide where they want their limited funds to go. So don’t miss the chance to give them something which might bump your book up on the list.

I’m sure I’ll do plenty more Cons and appearances this year and beyond, as my career is only just beginning (I hope). So there’ll be more lessons learned by this time next year, but for now, I hope these are helpful. Love to hear your thoughts and lessons learned in comments, too. For what it’s worth…

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novels The Worker Prince, a Barnes & Noble Book Clubs Year’s Best SF Releases of 2011 Honorable Mention, and The Returning, the collection The North Star Serial, Part 1, and several short stories featured  in anthologies and magazines.  He edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 for Flying Pen Press, headlined by Mike Resnick. As a freelance editor, he’s edited a novels and nonfiction.  He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat every Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter under the hashtag #sffwrtcht. A frequent contributor to Adventures In SF PublishingGrasping For The Wind and SFSignal, he can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Bryan is an affiliate member of the SFWA.


Write Tips: 5 Tips For Writers On Planning Their Con Season

For most writers, Conventions and Author Appearances are of huge importance for both selling books and networking with industry professionals. Although Conventions and events can occur year round, you may not be able or willing to travel the entire year. Whatever the case, it’s never too early to start identifying Cons and planning for the coming year. If you’ve never done it, approaching and identifying potential Cons for author appearances might be daunting. Here’s some tips I’ve used which have helped me succeed at planning a Con schedule:

1) Identify The Priority Cons First– Con lists are everywhere. You can find them in the backs of zines like Asimov’s and Analog. You can search the web for places like upcomingcons.com/sciencefictionconventions or en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_science_fiction_conventions or by city and state or region. Once you have a list though, the first step is to identify the Cons you want to hit and the Cons you need to hit. What determines your need? Why are you going? If you’re going to promote yourself and your work, you should look at the themes of the Cons, the past locations, and past attendance. Since many conventions cater to returning fans, try and identify cons which cater to those sharing interest in the types of genres and books you write. Are authors similar to yourself going? How many? You don’t want to many, but there can also be advantages to not being the only one. Do they focus on media guests? Literature guests? or a combination? Is the theme something you can speak to on panels or at your reading? Is the Con well attended? Unless you’re just trying to get your feet wet and need a low profile place to do your first reading and panel, you want Cons large enough to expose you to lots of people. Not too big, if you’re small. You don’t want to be lost in the shuffle, but big enough that you can get the word out to a decent spectrum.

Once you’ve identified the Cons you want to prioritize, check the locations. Look at things like the cost, who’s coming, the hotel, travel arrangements, dealers, etc. Then decide if the expenses and difficulties getting there are worth it or not. I always google the Con hotel and search for nearby hotels to see if there are cheaper options. After all, Cons are expensive and often thrown in the most expensive hotels. Yes, it’s fun to stay in those hotels, but unless your publisher is paying for it, consider whether you can reasonably hope to recoup your costs. If you pay for a membership, which many Cons require, housing, food, and travel, it can add up to several hundred dollars quick. Will you sell enough product to pay for that? I doubt it. There’s also product cost, too.

2) Contact Programming–Panels are a key opportunity to see and be seen as well as prove your value to readers and fellow professionals in a way that doesn’t involve self-praise or pushy sales tactics. I usually consider programming as I determine which Cons to put on my list for the following year. Contact Programming early on and find out if they would promote you as a guest. Do they offer discounts for participants? Can you be on panels or do a reading? Is there any interest? Knowing this may help you narrow down your list to the final choices.

Once you’ve identified the Cons you want to attend, be sure and contact programming. There’s usually a link or email address on the website. Send your bio and tell them which books/products you’d promote. Offer panel suggestions and ask to do a reading. Be sure and consider their theme when suggesting panels.  I have never had anyone turn me away. Most are very happy to have another creative professional headed their way. And they are more than happy to have volunteers to up the value of programming. [NOTE: If you’re nervous about panels, here’s 12 Tips For Preparing For Author Panels. I really find them quite fun, especially when other authors participate.]

3) Find A Dealer–If the Con’s website lists dealer attendees, try and find one to carry your books if you come. Paying for your own dealer table can be expensive and, more than that, can keep you from promoting yourself by locking you down at a table for the whole Con. Unless you’re an expert salesman, you’ll want to promote yourself in subtler ways: doing panels, doing a reading, schmoozing and hanging with fans. Standing by a table trying to start a conversation with anyone who passes can make for a long weekend. Especially if you want to enjoy the Con while you’re there, this is not always the best option. Unless you have someone who can go along to man the table when you’re out, and especially if you have only a few books or items to sell, finding another dealer who will take a cut to sell your stuff on consignment is really the best way to get product out there. You can help bring people to their table and they get attention from having attendee’s books on their table. It’s often a win-win. I usually encourage people to buy from the dealer even at my readings, etc. And if I do sell books elsewhere in the Con, I give the dealer a cut. Unless they’ve already sold enough of my product that they’ll feel justified in helping me out. Fair is fair. You are taking space they could have used for other merchandise so be sure and do your best to make it worth their while by not just verbal thanks but letting them show some profit from the enterprise.

If the Con site does not list dealers, you can track them down. Some Con dealer reps will offer to put you in touch, but some won’t. You can search dealers and their appearance calendars, or, better yet, contact people you know who have attended the Con and might remember who was there.

4) Cutting Down Expenses– Many Cons offer discounts for members of professional groups like SFWA. Be sure and ask. Discounts can be given for those who participate in a certain number of panels or do readings. You can also get discounts if you’re a dealer, etc. It’s good and perfectly acceptable to ask questions and explore all the options. Some Cons will pay for your housing and meals, but usually that only applies to those on the invited guest lists or billed as headliners. There are other ways to cut costs: hotels usually occur in clusters. Check neighboring hotels for cheaper rates. You can often get a deal and still be near enough to stay up late and party withotu needing to drive or pay a cabbie. Visit the Con’s site and FB page and post about needing a roommate. Sharing a room is a great way to cut costs. I even offered to guard the dealer room at a Con and was invited to sleep in that room for free. You can also map out restaurant options. Does the hotel have in-room fridges or kitchens? Microwaves? This can help with cost savings too.  You can pack cereal, snacks, popcorn, etc. to use as fillers between meals and cut down on your appetite. You can also find nearby places with much better prices than an in-hotel restaurant. Explore your options.

Another option is car pooling. With airfares on the increase, finding Cons within driving distance can be a real advantage, particularly if you plan to stay offsite for cheaper lodging. No need to worry about transportation when you’re there, and no need for luggage fees or concerns when hauling product. You can also bring a microwave and food or a mini-fridge if you want. In the end, since it’s a business write off on taxes, paying for gas can wind up being a cheaper, more practical option. Even better, if other people want to go, you can ride together. Sharing driving time and expenses can make it even more affordable. Lots of people like to hit as many local Cons as they can. Often they need a ride or prefer to carpool for the same reason. It may even be you catching a ride with someone else.

5) List Your Appearances On Your Website–My Con schedule is listed on the Appearances page on my website. I list the date, time, location, Con name and link to the website. I also list if I am going to be a pro guest or just showing up on my own. That way people know whether to look for me on panels, etc. As I get a schedule for the Con, I do blog entries listing my schedule, panels and outlining my plans. I mention other guests and link to their websites if I can and I encourage people to come. If I know of discounts, cheaper hotels, etc., I mention that, too. The more people who come out to see you, the more value you are to the Con and the more product you move. It’s better for everyone.

Anyway, that’s how go about planning my author Con schedule. I try and vary the locations of Cons when I can to try out Cons I’m unfamiliar with and meet new people. Once I’ve been at this a few more years, I’ll likely identify a few Cons I want to attend regularly while switching up others. But in any case, I hope these tips give you ideas and assist in making the process simpler and more pleasant for you. How do you plan your Con schedule? If you have tips I didn’t mention, we’d love to have you share in comments. For what it’s worth…

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novels The Worker Prince, a Barnes & Noble Book Clubs Year’s Best SF Releases of 2011 Honorable Mention, andThe Returning, the collection The North Star Serial, Part 1, and has several short stories featured  in anthologies and magazines. His children’s book 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids from Delabarre Publishing along with the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 which he edited for Flying Pen Press, headlined by Mike Resnick. As  a freelance editor, he’s edited a novels and nonfiction.  He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat every Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. A frequent contributor to Adventures In SF PublishingGrasping For The Wind and SFSignal, he can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Bryan is an affiliate member of the SFWA.

19 5-star & 4-star reviews THE WORKER PRINCE $4.99 Kindle http://amzn.to/pnxaNm or Nook http://bit.ly/ni9OFh $14.99 tpb http://bit.ly/qIJCkS.



Conclave 36 Launch Report

Well, it’s Monday and I’m supposed to post, right?I know. It’s my usual day. Some of you come here looking for an interesting post to start your week, so here I am. I’ve been lying on bed post whirlwind Con Launch trip, trying to motivate myself to write and feeling overwhelmed. But I’ll do my best.

The Con itself brought many opportunities.

It began when I registered and dropped books with Larry Smith and Sally Kobee, the friendly dealers who graciously agreed to carry my books despite my ignorance of proper percentages and pretty much everything else. They had a huge table and I was honored to have them allow me any space. Thank goodness I finally had a few sales to give them something for their kindness! (Yes the photo is badly out of focus but stupid me forgot to take another in my rushing insanity of talking with readers so it’s the best I have. Apologies.) Sally and Larry frequent 36 cons a year and I remembered them from World Fantasy 2010 in Columbus.


1) My first panel as an Author. That was titled “The Death Of The American Author” and was supposed to cover the changing face of publishing, which we did. But we couldn’t decide if the title really was relevant to our beliefs about where publishing is going. My fellow panelists were new writer Gary W. Olson, whose debut novel is coming in December from Damnation, the same people who publish Realms Of Fantasy in its latest incarnation; Jim C. Hines, DAW author of seven fantasy novels about goblins, princesses and more; and L. Warren Douglas, author of 8 novels in the 90s and 2000s from Del Rey and other sources. To add to the pressure, Hines decided my first panel was the perfect spot to make me moderator. I, not wanting to fail to prove my mettle, took his challenge and rose to the occasion fairly successfully from what I could tell (and was later told). I don’t know that we solved any problems but the discussions was interesting.

After that, Hines, Olsen and I stayed put for the panel “Self Promotion and Marketing” with Hines moderating. This was an interesting discussion on self-promotion through social media, blogging, and other means as well as networking strategies and why it’s important at all to do it, but also to be true to yourself and your comfort zone. After all, bad publicity can be harmful and counter its opposite so working outside your comfort zone is not something to undertake without care.

Next, my first exposure to filk came with Seanan McGuire’s concert. The filk band Wild Mercy backed her. And unfortunately, late due to the panel, I then saw only about 20 minutes before my publisher texted to say he’d arrived with a shipment of my book, which I had not seen an actual final copy of yet. So naturally (and understandably to Seanan who later forgave me instantly upon hearing the reason), I rushed out the door to get my hands on those!

It was fun to meet Tim Ambrose, who’d accepted and suggested I make a series of my “North Star” space opera stories at Digital Dragon Magazine and

Next, on the free table, I discovered some real finds in great condition and snatched those up. These included Asimov and Leiber mint condition paperbacks from 1957 and A March 1967 and June 1968 issues of Analog featuring stories from the likes of Ben Bova, Harry Harrison and Poul Anderson and edited by John W. Campbell. Yes, that’s right, I said FREE!

Saturday began with “Keeping In Character,” a panel on techniques for characterization where Seanan nominated me to moderate, and so I again did. This panel had Emmy Jackson, a new fantasy novelist, Christian Klaver, and J. Warren Douglas on it in addition to Guest of Honor Seanan McGuire and myself, and devolved quickly with Mr. Douglas’ poorly chosen examples of points he tried to make which made the GOH wish to strangle him along with many attendees. To make matters worse, he proceeded then to continue trying to explain himself because “if we’d just understand him all would be fine.” Moderating such a situation is challenging to say the least but it did make for the most talked about panel at the Con, which I moderated, so I get that feather in my cap, I suppose.

Next, I had lunch with my publisher, Tim Ambrose and we discussed sequels, future projects, contracts and the con at a local middle eastern restaurant where our waitress vocalized her disappointment at my choice of Fish N Chip rather than middle eastern cuisine which 1) was what I was in the mood for and 2) would have meant choosing something I was unsure about and chancing dissatisfaction when Tim was paying and I was in dire need of my first meal of the day. So no thanks.

After that, I hung out in the dealer room a bit before joining Jim Hines, Emmy Jackson and Joe Ponepinto for a panel on “Writing Groups” wherein we gave insider tips on how to find a group, when you need a group, how groups operate, problems with groups, etc. Attending were such fun people as Charles Zaglanis and Christine Purcell from Elder Signs Press and Con security friend Laura (she and her husband Bill were a lot of laughs, especially the time I tested Bill’s security training by pick pocketing him).

Then it was rush back to my room and prepare time as I had a reading. I read through the passage again twice, ate a quick bite, and rushed back to the Con to await my most feared moment which then proceeded to go very well and wound up with everyone present except my unsupportive publisher (wink wink) buying a copy. I mean, gees, Tim, support your writers already… This led to my first autograph request, as opposed to earlier when I’d run through the Dealer Room signing every book in sight with the author’s name as a “courtesy” to future buyers. Despite Dealer’s complaints, I really do think those autographs were later a hit.

After that I hung out until Saladin (sal-uh-deen) Ahmed did a great reading from Chapter 3 of his forthcoming “Throne Of The Crescent Moon,” which he’d also read from at World Fantasy. And then hung with Saladin, Jim Hines, Christian Klaver, Tim Ambrose, and Seanan by the bar for a while. Here’s a picture of us pretending we actually like each other at Jim’s suggestion.

On Sunday, I pretty much hung out in the dealer room, after a nice breakfast with Charles Zaglanis and Christine Purcell, and spending time with Serena, my Brazilian website programmer, who came by just to see me and make sure I got to the airport. I think the city decided they’d had enough of my antics and wanted to be sure I left. Not sure. I do know that as soon as I got through security, they called my row and I had to bored so I was left little time for further mischief locally. And that was Conclave and the book launch of THE WORKER PRINCE, my novel debut.

My Conclave Schedule

Well this coming weekend, October 7-9, I go to Detroit, Michigan for my first Con as an Author Guest. The Con people have been very welcoming and helpful, even though it took a while to get in touch, including hooking me up with a dealer to sell my books for me (so a) I don’t have buy a dealer table and b) I don’t look silly with my one book, 2 anthologies). They offered me a reading, a membership discount, and a good price on a program book ad, which is prominently displayed. And they also put me on four interesting panels. So, for those who can make it or are otherwise curious, here’s my schedule:

ConClave XXXVI

Science Fiction Convention

October 7-9, 2011–Romulus, Michigan

Literary Guest of Honor

Seanan McGuire

Filk Guest(s) of Honor Wild Mercy
Fan Guest(s) of Honor Ray and Barb VanTilburg

Other expected attendees include: Jim C. Hines, Juanita Coulson, and more.

Friday, Oct. 7, 2011

5:00 pm – Dealer’s Room Setup/Supper

6:30-8:00 pm – Ballroom 5: The Death Of The American Author? (Panel)

Panelists: Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Jim C. Hines, Doug Lugthart, Gary W. Olsen

Ebooks. Anyone with a computer can format a novel and sell it on Amazon for download. What does this mean for the future of books, for the future of publishing? Why should it matter? Do we need to redefine what constitutes of literature? And will the democratizing of publishing redefine what is what it means to be a writer and a reader?

8:00-9:30 p.m. – Ballroom 5: Self-Promoting And Networking (Panel)

Panelists: Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Jim C. Hines, Gary W. Olsen

It’s not just about the promoting writing, it’s about promoting yourself, whether it’s in search of a new job, or keeping the one you have. What is your digital footprint? How can you clean it up? How can you get people to “like” you online? What are some do’s and don’ts for Twitter and Facebook? How can you build a circle of professional and personal contacts?

9:30-11:00 pm – Dealer’s Room (Signing, hanging, etc.)


Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011

10:00 a.m. – Dealer’s Room (Signing, hanging, etc.)

11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. – Ballroom 5: Keeping In Character (Panel)

Panelists: Seanan McGuire, Doug Lugthart, Bryan Thomas Schmidt,
Emmy Jackson, Charles P. Zaglanis, Christian Klaver, Joe Ponepinto

All good stories center around character. If this is a truism of writing, then why is it so many authors seem to struggle with building believable characters and having them do believable things? What are some short-cuts for character building, and what are some of the absolute must-haves? What elevates a character from a stereotype to a memorable literary figure? How do you develop internal and external conflict? What about Point of View?

1:00-2:30 p.m. – Lunch Break

2:30-3:25 pm. – Dealer’s Room (Signing, hanging, etc.)

3:30-5:00 p.m. – Ballroom 5: Writing Groups (Panel)

Panelists: Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Emmy Jackson, Jim C. Hines, Joe Ponepinto

The good, the bad, the unattractive. The first part of this panel is a discussion on the group process as it applies to critiquing; panelists will discuss some of the basics, and then role-model the critique process by critiquing LIVE the work of someone present. Be ready for much crying and whining.

5:00-6:00 p.m. – Dinner Break

6:00-7:30 p.m. – Ballroom 6: Reading

7:30-9:00 p.m. – Ballroom 6: Saladin Ahmed Reading (attending)

9:00-11:00 p.m. – Dealer’s Room (Signing, hanging, etc.)

11:00 pm. -? – Party, Party, Party


Sunday, Oct. 9, 2011

10:00 – 11:45 a.m. – Dealer’s Room (Signing, hanging, etc.)

11:45-12:45 a.m. – Check out/Lunch

12:45-1:15 p.m. – Dealer’s Room (Signing briefly then pack up and head to airport)


They have gaming, filk concerts, and much more as well. Really looking forward to my first Con this year, especially go launch a book. It’s a privilege to get to go. So if you’re in the area, please come out!


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, the collection The North Star Serial, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. He’s also the host ofScience Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat every Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. He can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.