World Fantasy Con was this weekend.
It was originally going to be held in Salt Lake City (and still nominally was) but they were forced to make this years convention a digital-only event, due to the recent unpleasantness in the world.
Though I had already purchased a ticket, I considered blowing off the event. After all, what good is going to a conference if I can’t introduce myself to agents and editors?
At the last minute, I decided I would attend. I have a lot of vacation days piled up, gathering dust, and I hoped to at least get something from the experience. And I like hearing from other authors.
This was World Fantasy Con’s very first all-digital event, and many people wryly expressed that they hoped it would be the last.
I agree, but I want to add something more. It strikes me that future conferences could sell both in-person and digital-only tickets to their patrons. Many conferences already sell “supporting memberships” that bestow certain privileges without granting admittance to the physical event. It occurs to me that every supporting membership should also come with a digital attendance ticket, allowing supporting members to dial into the conference remotely.
Naturally, all panels at a conference would be simulcast to supporting members this way. This year’s conference has proven that such an option is feasible. We have the technology.
This should work especially well with World Fantasy Con, which regularly limits in-person attendance to no more than 900 in a given year. That physical limit helps keep the conference intimate and professional, and I would not change it.
But the addition of digital attendees would not interrupt World Fantasy’s intimacy or professionalism. It expands the conference without turning it into a noisy fandom fest. I strongly recommend that future conference directors consider it.
What Did I Get out of It?
In the end, I was glad I attended. One positive turn, in particular, was worth the entire price of attendance.
There happened to be one author, who appeared on multiple panels, who has read my own book. Never at any point could he have been certain I was listening, and he received no prompting from myself. But at two points in the conference, he brought up my book.
He called it “absolutely brilliant”.
And that made my entire week. Though I can’t know exactly what’s going to happen with me or my work in the future, having a professional author praise my work to other authors is not something I ever allowed myself to imagine. I will never forget it.
I doubt I shall have another week as good as this one for a long time. But I hope you will still keep your eyes on this space.
I’ve got plenty more secrets to share, after all.
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