JordanCon 2013: Final Thoughts, and Why You Should Go (for real this time)

Now that I’ve completed my JordanCon recap, it’s time to get to what is arguably more important: Why I’ve chosen to attend JordanCon for the last three years, and why you should as well. As I’m a writer, with a plan to get published and make writing my full-time career, and as such I will focus more on why JordanCon is valuable in that respect. However, I will also touch on other reasons you should go. I’ll be putting things in a list format, simply because it’s easier (and I think it’s suit what I’m trying to do better, of course).

So, we’ll start with the reasons other than the writing-related ones, as they’ll all be shorter.

1. If you’re a fan of the Wheel of Time series, and have any desire in engaging with other fans, this is the place to do it at. The convention was essentially created as such, by Wheel of Time fans and in honor of the series and Robert Jordan. With all the Wheel of Time themed things, the discussions of the books and the world, and the fans themselves you will have a great time. Even though the series is complete, there is still plenty to discuss. Additionally, you will have the opportunity to meet some of the people who made the books possible, and get books signed by them. The ultimate Wheel of Time fan experience.

2. If you like to get a chance to meet and talk to some of your favorite authors, it’s worth you time to come. JordanCon is on the smaller side as conventions go (this year was it;s biggest year, with nearly 600 attendees), but it has great guests. Brandon Sanderson has attended almost every JordanCon thus far, and other well-known author guests have included Mary Robinette-Kowal and Seanan McGuire, among many others. Next year, Patrick Rothfuss will be attending, so I don’t think the series ending will slow the line of great guests. But more importantly, they are very approachable  It is helped by the fact that the convention is not all that large; it is not all that difficult to get an opportunity to talk to the guests after a panel, in the game room, or just around the hotel. And the smaller number of people means that there’s less competition for their time, and that they’re less overwhelmed. Let’s put it this way: At JrodanCon, it’s not at all surprising to be heading down in the elevator, and when it stops midway for Michael Whelan to step in, or for when you’ve just gotten in the elevator for Mary Robinette-Kowal to ask you to hold the door for her. (Both experiences I’ve had.) The fact that the guests are so accessible and willing to talk for a bit makes it a really great environment, and if you have an interest in meeting these people, JordanCon is a great place to do it.

3. Here is where I will spend a little more time, as this is the category I fall into, that of the aspiring author. One of the main reasons I decided to attend JordanCon in 2011 was the fact that they had a writer’s track, which included a session taught by Brandon Sanderson, one of the authors I admire most. That, along with knowing that there would be other writers there, pushed me to go on my own even though I’m far from the world’s most social person, and I am glad I did. And since then, it has only grown in value to me as I put more and more time and effort into my writing.

As I just mentioned, one of the advantages of JordanCon is the writer’s track, which features panels by people who know what they’re talking about on topics that are useful–not just technical writing topics, but also topics such as how to market yourself and how to build an online presence, skills that are in some respects as important as knowing how to write well. Topics range from the broad, such as dialogue, to the narrow, such as violence. In my recap I detailed most of this year’s panels, and old schedules are viewable online.

But the panels themselves are only part of the value. There is also the environment. You’re among other writers, most of whom share interests with you, both in what you like to read and what you like to write. You have the opportunity to learn with them, talk to them, and potentially to get critique from them (such as at the peer review session they had this year). These people are both potential future contacts and future customers. (This is actually some thing I’m not as good at, but I’m working on it.) Also, if you go regularly, more people will recognize and remember you, making this a little easier.

The most directly valuable thing, however (at least in my experience) is the chance for contact with professionals in the publishing industry. This year there were the most representatives ever, and as Mentioned above, they’re all approachable  The authors are available should you have a question about writing, or about the process of getting your work out. Last year, I got very helpful advice from Mary Robinett-Kowal on writing book pitches, and this year I got advice from Brandon Sanderson on writing different stories in a shared universe. (A topic for another time.) Both times, I simply walked up to them when they weren’t busy and asked my question. Additionally, there are the editors and agents at the ‘con. They too will talk to you (though they can be harder to find) and even if you aren’t pitching a book, getting saying hi and introducing yourself is more valuable than it might seem. An editor I met last year remembered who I was this time. When you do get to the point where you’re trying to sell a book, being known, even if informally, is extremely valuable. And of course, you can pitch things (within reason–do it professionally; being annoying is the worst thing you can do). The pitch critique session is key for this, as they’re literally sitting there are commenting on your book pitch, as if the peer review session, as they’re reading your words. It’s not at all impossible for them to give you a card, or for them to express some interest in your book. Again, if they remember hearing about it, when they see it for real there’s a better chance they’ll give it their time, and if you get a direct request, you’re already ten steps ahead of the people who submit blindly, bypassing the dreaded slush pile altogether.

I’m not sure if there’s really more I can say, and this post is already running long, so I’ll close it out here.

JordanCon is a great experience, providing both great opportunities as well as a small enough environment that you can take advantage of the opportunities, be they the interactions with your fellow congoers, or the guests, or the panels, dealers hall, or other things at the ‘con. Whether you attend the convention as a fan, or as a writer, there is reason for you to come to JordanCon

So until next time, keep writing, and consider JordanCon for next year. You can find information at jordancon.org

Hope to see you there!

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