9 Lessons From My First Fan Convention as a Publisher

9 Lessons From My First Fan Convention as a Publisher

#1 Nothing really changes.

Not the important part. Some people treated me slightly differently because I might help publish their books now, but not that many, and you can’t just erase a decade and a half of hanging out with people at odd corridors in the random hours of the weekend just like that. Thankfully. Once a geek, always a geek, I guess. (I hope.)

#2 Time is even more of a problem.

Think there’s an issue when you have a programme collision as a member of the audience? Try fitting your own programming over three very short days—and then try to go see other people’s stuff! Dammit; if it weren’t for the unexpected departure lag at the end of the final day, I wouldn’t have even spoken to the people I wanted to talk to the most. Got lucky in the end.

#3 There’s an audience for new content at sci-fi conventions in Croatia.

(Not to mention there’s a new audience—and a ton of it—and most of them don’t really reach my shoulder. It almost makes me wish I were an anime person, but I’m not; some other geeks will have to snatch these new cosplayers and conrunners and teach them to expand the local fandom scene even further.) The three author intros/book signings/genre talks we’ve featured over the weekend have garnered interest beyond my wildest dreams, and the audience was happy—especially when we talked about things I feel we’ve never spoken about at Croatian cons before! Phew, it feels so good to be alive in these strange new future times.

#4 Some people will forever be missed—even more than I could’ve predicted, and in the tiniest ways.

The inter-generation writer/academic exchange has always been a huge part of why I love the Croatian fandom scene so much, but we’ve lost a major part of the “earlier” generation a few years ago, and thus found ourselves bumped up the generation ladder a bit too fast, in some regards. (How do you talk to someone about stuff you’re only now coming to realize, something they’d known and talked about for decades, when they’re not here anymore? Forever missed.)

At the other side of the coin, I’ve met with more newer writers in the past few days than I remember ever meeting in one place. We’ll see where it takes us, from here.

#5 People do read.

People read stuff which other people read, elsewhere—new stuff. Fun stuff. It’s just a matter of running into the right people at the right time. Dammit, I’ve missed this.

#6 Easy cosplays save the day!

Even though I had to talk to people about how “obscure” my character was every once in a while. (Camilla Hect is not supposed to be obscure, but hey, at least Antonija’s Midsommar special was recognized wherever she and her flower crown went! Talk about good cosplay choices for writers of horror.) As a member of the audience, I used to be able to spend ages in the bathrooms and the changing rooms; as a part of a publishing cottage, I was grateful for my minimalistic outfit this year. Lesson learned!

#7 Fandom makes me happy.

Fandom makes me want to go and grab everything. Do everything. Be everything. Luckily, there are other people being everything, too, and talking to them for a whole weekend was such a pleasant relief! Instant energy boost.

#8 Packaging is so important.

Book titles and simple descriptions are not enough—context rules. Visual rep rules. Good covers are such a major asset in the genre space. And so is taking care to publish the best copy you can accomplish, at a given time, even when you’re repping your own (micro) business for the first time. We can learn. We can learn. (Also, Antonija has the best ideas, and I’m lucky to be able to work alongside her!)

#9 I am… me, even as a… publisher.

It’s… strange. Some of the best photos I’ve seen of myself this weekend (I’m not a selfie person, unfortunately) have been from the book signings we’ve done, and… I look so happy, and so me. I didn’t set out to be a publisher, all those years ago, but a writer. Now I’m both. And yes, the hours are even longer than I’d expected. And there’s more of… everything. But, apparently, there’s more of me, too. And after the past few years… I’ve missed being me.

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