Baby, It’s Cold Outside
Last night it got down to twenty below. Fahrenheit, that is; -29 Celsius. Trivia fact: The point where the two scales match is forty below zero, which is also the temperature at which soap bubbles freeze in mid-air and shatter when they hit the ground.
Weather like that is one reason why I go to science fiction conventions in Boston in January and February: It’s warmer down there.
Cabin fever is another reason. Up here, when the snow gets deep and the roads get bad, we don’t get out of town very much. After a while, the walls can start to close in. (I have a perverse fondness for “Canol Road” by the late Stan Rogers for this very reason.)
One reason that isn’t the reason I go to sf/fantasy conventions is “to promote my books.” I go to cons because I like going to cons, and if book promotion happens along the way, that’s a nice thing but it’s gravy. I was a con-goer long before I was a writer.
Should you, as a newly-published or aspiring sf/fantasy writer, go to conventions?† Only if you think going to conventions is fun. And if you’ve never been to a convention and are planning to go to one, go to it for the new experience (which you may or may not like), not for the publicity or the networking or anything like that. If you do like the experience, you’ve got a new hobby and a new group of friends to help get you through the essential loneliness of the writing life. If you don’t like it, don’t worry; con-going fans are a small subset of the greater sf and fantasy reading public, and you don’t have to court them in order to succeed.
(If you do decide to give the convention scene a try, it helps to go to your first con in the company of a knowledgeable regular. And whatever you do, don’t make your first sf convention a worldcon – that’s like starting your swimming lessons by jumping off the high board into the deep end of the pool.)
†Of conventions in other genres, such as romance and mystery, I lack the experience to speak.