Category Archives: WorldCon

Confessions of a Con Novice

A few years ago at a writing seminar I was asked if I’d be attending a local upcoming “Con.” I wasn’t exactly sure what a Con was. My friend clarified that she was referring to “Comicon.”

This may come as a surprise to some, but I hadn’t ever heard of Comicon. Or Dragon Con or Worldcon except that it sounded like Worldcom. (No I promise that isn’t a knock at the Hugos. I really was this ignorant).

But I didn’t want to flaunt my ignorance so I googled, Comicon and sure enough there was one in Phoenix that summer.

Have you ever learned an exotic word that you could swear you’ve never heard before, but once you learn it, you hear it everywhere? All of the sudden, everyone I knew was talking about Comicon.

So I gathered the family and we ventured to the conference center. I was blown away at how popular it was. There were crowds upon crowds of people, most dressed up like it was Halloween. Someone asked me if I was into Cosplay. This was also a new word for me and it sounded, well, kinky, so I shook my head and ran away.

As far as the Con, My kids loved it. I loved it. My wife would have preferred about anything else but she obliged, allowing me to be amongst “my people” as she lovingly called the attendees.

So, I’m still a Con novice, but I’m gaining experience. I have attended a smaller con in Arizona and last year I went to Salt Lake Comic Con as a volunteer in the Word Fire Press exhibitor booth.

And today, I have returned one year later to that same Con of Cons to be amongst my Word Fire friends but this time I brought my son and I might even let him Cosplay. Because I’ve made it my mission as a dad to help my children have a better childhood than I had. That’s how we make the world a better place. My son knows what a Con is. He also knows that Salt Lake Comic Con is different (though it is of similar pronunciation) than Phoenix Comicon or San Diego Comic-Con. And there are a good many more Cons of comics and other great things.

Here’s a helpful list and for the sake of humanity, please take your children; after all they are our future.

Salt Lake Comic Con – August 31 – September 3, 2016

San Diego Comic-Con – July 21 – 24, 2016

Phoenix Comicon – June 2 – 5, 2016

Phoenix Comicon – Fan Fest Dec 4 – 6, 2015

Dragon Con (Atlanta) – September 2 – 5, 2016

2016 Worldcon hosted by MidAmeriCon II (Kansas City, MO) – August 17 – 21, 2016

Rose City Comic Con (Oregon) – September 10 – 11, 2016

World Fantasy Con 2015 (Saratoga Springs, NY) – November 5 – 8

World Fantasy Con 2016 (Columbus, OH) – October 27 – 30

Click here to see a bunch more


jace 1I live in Arizona with my family, wife and five kids and a little dog. I write fiction, thrillers and soft sci-fi with a little short horror on the side. I’ve got an MBA and work in finance for a biotechnology firm.

I volunteer with the Boy Scouts, play and write music, and enjoy everything outdoors. I’m also a novice photographer.

You can visit my author website at, and you can read some of my works by visiting my Wattpad page.

Not All Cons are Created Equal

For fans, conventions are all about having fun, meeting people who share your interests, and having a weekend of unbridled and unapologetic geekiness. We gather at convention halls to meet our favorite authors or film stars, to attend panels, and to shop for art, books, collectables, costumes, and gadgets. Conventions are inherently a celebration of all that is nerdy, and so it only makes sense that they be as varied as the fans who attend them.

However, as authors, conventions are also a business trip. At a convention, we can sell our books – both to industry professionals and directly to fans. By observing what is popular, we can keep our fingers on the pulse of fandom and learn the tastes of our target audiences. The convention hotel bar is a great place to meet people, network, and make friends who understand the struggles of being an aspiring author.

Even though conventions are an invaluable experience, I know of very few people who have an unlimited budget and the freedom to travel as they please. The rest of us need to choose carefully how best to use our vacation time and financial resources. Even if you don’t consider all of the seminars and workshops offered, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of conventions worldwide. The task of narrowing down your choices may seem overwhelming, but if you approach selecting conventions with your goals in mind, you can make the process much more manageable.

Though all conventions are unique experiences, I’ve noticed that most seem to fall somewhere along a series of five continuums. By properly placing the perspective convention, I have found it easy to evaluate the convention’s personality and utility to an aspiring professional.

CONTINUUM 1: Big Cons vs Small Cons
Much of a convention’s personality is a function of its size. Cons with larger numbers of attendees have more leverage with local hotels, businesses, and governments as they represent a massive and predictable influx of tourism. As such, they will be able to secure special rates with the nearby businesses, and convince local municipalities to shut down roads and parks. They will attract the attention of higher profile guests and be able to pay for their appearance fees, travel, and lodging.

No matter how much good the influx of a hundred thousand people does for the local economy, there is a draw back. Larger cons are inherently more chaotic, have longer lines for events, and tend to react more slowly to change. They can easily become overwhelming for someone who is unused to or uncomfortable in those sorts of crowds. It’s also very hard to get noticed in such a large group. If you are looking to shop a book, for example, I’d recommend somewhere a bit more intimate, where you can take the time to get to know agents and editors rather than have 2.5 seconds of their attention as you pass in the mass of humanity.

CONTINUUM 2: Party Cons vs Business Cons
Some conventions, like World Con or World Fantasy, are largely focused on getting business done. Sure, there’s still partying, but most of that is geared towards networking. Editors and agents go to these sorts of conventions to acquire new talent and catch up with old friends in the industry.

On the other hand, conventions like Dragon*Con or Salt Lake City Comic Con lean more heavily towards celebration than business. Though it’s possible to seal a deal at these sort of conventions, the odds of getting the attention of an industry professional are not in your favor. They are, however, a fantastic place to meet and interact with fans, as well as sell lots of books in the dealer’s room.

CONTINUUM 3: Narrowly Focused Cons vs Multi-Track Cons
When you are in charge of organizing a con’s content, how do you choose? Some cons focus on a single vein, such as steam punk, horror, anime, or even the works of a particular author. For example, JordanCon is a convention held each spring in Atlanta. Its founders chose to focus on the works of Robert Jordan and all things tied to the Wheel of Time. On the other end of the spectrum, Dragon*Con, also in Atlanta, is a sprawling agglomeration of every possible fan interest. You get a lot more depth at a convention like JordanCon and a greater variety at a gathering like Dragon*Con. Both approaches have their advantages.

CONTINUUM 4: Content Cons vs Dealer’s Cons
Though every convention is going to have some sort of dealer’s room, some conventions, such as World Fantasy, focus mostly on the panels, parties, and other social interactions between fans and guests. On the other hand, conventions like San Diego Comic Con have massive dealer’s rooms and much of their attendees’ focus is on acquiring merchandise and collectibles. If you are looking to learn something, go to a content con. If you are looking to buy from vendors or sell to consumers, go to a dealer’s con.

CONTINUUM 5: Static Cons vs Traveling Cons
Some conventions, like Bubonicon or Space City Comic Con, are held in the same city, even some times on the same weekend, year after year. They are inherently easier to plan for, and tend to have better relationships with local business and governments. Additionally, local celebrities and authors tend to adopt a “home convention” that they attend year after year.

Other conventions, such as any con with the word “World” in the title, travel to new destinations each year. What they lack in stability, they gain in variety of experience and often leverage with the locals. After all, Spokane, Washington likely bent over backwards to win their 2015 bid for World Con. Albuquerque, New Mexico on the other hand probably won’t go to the same extreme for Bubonicon, which is held there year after year.

Want to see the world? Follow a traveling convention, but you’re travel costs will likely be proportionally more expensive. It’s often best to catch such events as they cycle through a city near you.

So, how do you know what sort of convention you’re in for? It’s simply a matter of research. Your social network will go a long ways to help you with this. Find friends who have been to the convention in question and ask them their opinions and experiences. Another good option is to peruse the convention website. What sort of guests are they expecting? Cons with guest lists heavy in celebrities and authors often are content cons while those who have tons of artists lean more towards the dealer’s floor. Additionally, you can search through public media, blogs, and social media sources for coverage of the previous year’s event. Those sorts of articles will often report attendance numbers and focus on the perceived high points of the convention’s programming.

Ultimately, only you can know what sort of convention will best fit your needs and interests. Are you actively trying to sell a book to traditional publishers? You might focus on finding a small, business focused con. Or, are you trying to meet your favorite author or celebrity? In which case, you should look for a large, narrowly focused, static con. Do you want to be entertained at a party, content focused convention, or are you trying to find a rare printing of a comic book at a dealer’s convention? There’s a buffet of experiences ready for you to sample. All you have to do is pick up a plate and make a decision as to where to start.

Who Wants to Go to Worldcon?–Me, Me, Me!

lonestarcon3So, we’ve been talking about workshops, seminars, and conventions this month, and we couldn’t possibly go without mentioning Worldcon. With the World Fantasy Convention (WFC), this is one of the big ones for writers starting out. There is no cap for Worldcon, as there is for WFC, so this convention has a higher guest count and a much higher fan to writer ratio. It’s not as intimate an atmosphere (if you can call 750 people in one hotel intimate), but it’s a very good place to go for new authors.

At a workshop I went to a few years ago, Pyr editor, Lou Anders, said that if you’re looking for a publisher and/or agent, go to WFC. Once you get a publisher and/or agent, go to Worldcon.

I’ll be honest. I’ve never attended a Worldcon in the past, but this year, it’s in my back yard, so to speak, so I’m totally planning to go. In addition to the huge amount of programming they have every year, there are plenty of parties to attend and lots of pros to meet running around the place.

Hugo Award winning author Mike Resnick wrote a great guide for beginners attending Chicon7 (this past year’s Worldon). It’s a really good read for those, like me, who will be attending for the first time, no matter what year you’re going. The official site also has some advice for first time goers here.

Here’s the skinny on Worldcon 2013, or as it’s been titled, LoneStarCon3:

  • This year, the convention will be in San Antonio, Texas, August 29-September 2, 2013.
  • Membership is $200 for an adult attending membership until April 30, 2013. More info can be found on their membership page.
  • There are two host hotels right on the San Antonio Riverwalk. Bookings opened on the website today, January 21, 2013. The Riverwalk is a major tourist attraction, so the prices can be a little high for many people ($154 for single/double occupancy; $175 for triple/quad). But there are plenty of other hotels in the vicinity that are a little more affordable, and it’s always a good idea to bring a friend or two to cut costs.
  • Programming isn’t up yet, of course, but there’s always a huge amount to see and do. On the programming page there are links to the programming from previous Worldcons. Check it out to see what you might be looking forward to.
  • In addition to the programming and parties, there’s also a writer’s workshop, if you want spend some time with a couple of pro authors working on your craft while you’re at the con. According to the workshop page, there’s a fee of $15 to reserve a spot. Reservations open in July.

As for me, I have to say, I’m already kinda jazzed to go this year. Since it’s open to everyone, I can actually convince some of my friends who don’t write to go with me, and the wealth of pros going is always a great draw. And since it’s only a few hours drive from my house, I won’t have to shell out big bucks for airfare, which is always a plus. Honestly, just taking a look at the official site makes it seem like there’s entirely too much to cover everything, but we’ll surely have a ton of fun trying.

So, anyone gone to a Worldcon before or going this year? Share what you’ve enjoyed in the past and/or are looking forward to this year. Help us first-timer’s figure out what to get ready for.

See ya there!