I am not, by nature, a party person. My idea of a good time is more likely to involve a stack of comic books, a couple cats, my couch and a cold beer than a room full of chatty strangers. Becoming a published writer has forced me to step outside my comfort zone, first for networking, now for promotion, but I’d always viewed it as a necessary evil rather than something I actually enjoyed.
My friend Marie Bilodeau is a multi-published author with six novels to her name, and I’ve been to the launch parties held for all of them. When I made my first short story publications last year, I inquired whether there was anything like a novel launch for short story anthologies; whether I ought to consider gathering a few copies of the four print anthologies that feature one of my short stories, and throw a launch party.
I was thinking about reserving the back room in a pub, doing a couple readings, inviting everyone I knew who lived locally… But Marie, social organizer extraordinaire that she is, thought a little bigger.
Using connections from her writer’s group, Marie got in touch with the organizers of Can-Con, the Conference for Canadian Content in Speculative Fiction. She pitched the idea for the convention to help support new Speculative Fiction writers by holding a launch event for authors who’d just had their first few publications; in return, donations gathered at the event would go back to supporting the convention. More than just getting my name out there and selling books, this event tied me in to the Speculative Fiction community in Ottawa, strengthening my connection with editors, media, other writers…the list goes on.
The end result was an event called On the Brink: Can-Con Celebrates New SF Writers. Two other writers, in addition to myself, would read from their short stories and sign books; we also had a guest speaker, Aurora Award nominated writer Matt Moore. We held it in the Business Improvement Area where I work as an administrator—and yes, I got my “back room in a pub.”
The event was a big success! We had doubled the expected turnout. I sold a pile of books, not only to my friends and co-workers but also to a number of people in the local SF community; I even got new fans. Reading from my stories was more fun than terrifying; it felt a lot like the dramatic monologues I used to do at drama club shows in university. Best of all, the event’s success means that Can-Con is hoping to make it an annual event, building the relationship between the convention, writers both new and established, and the wider community of readers and fans.
Most of all, being packed into a crowded room of friends, strangers and casual acquaintances didn’t leave me wishing I could run for the door. In fact, I actually had fun. I’m looking forward to my next launch event, whenever that may be, and remembering that, while I might be an introvert by nature, being part of the SF community is one of the things I love about being a writer.