Sunday, May 26, 2013

Baycon 2013 Day 2 - Connections

At some conventions, I'm so heavily scheduled for panels, I don't get to actually attend any and listen to the discussions. Sometimes that's frustrating, other times, it's just the way things roll. Typically, panels and other events are an hour or an hour and a half long, wrapping up 5 minutes before closing to give everyone barely enough time to scramble to the next one. This time, Baycon scheduled 2 hours slots with 1 1/2 hour panels, which had the dual effect of ample discussion time, leisurely transitions, and far fewer panels. I think this is a worthwhile experiment. People, both pro writers/artists and fans, attend conventions for many different reasons. I doubt it's possible to create a programming schedule that fits everyone's needs, but trying different things is a good way to find the best balance.

So yesterday was mostly a schmoozing day, connecting with other members of Book View Cafe, as well as friends. I tend not to include Lists of Notable Names in my convention reports, and I won't do so now. Suffice it to say that it's a delight to meet in person fellow writers with whom I've been working with online. The internet creates its own kind of community. Well, many kinds, but mostly mediated through text -- emails, forums, groups, blogs, etc. Occasionally phone conferences and even less frequently video conferences. None of these substitute for face-to-face conversations. When the members of a community (in this case, Book View Cafe) are scattered not only across the US, but over the world, getting more than two or three of us together at the same time in the same place is nigh impossible. This is where conventions come in, because as pro writers, we often attend these anyway, so we seize upon the opportunity to "meet-up."

Despite the fact that a number of us specifically requested that we be on the panel on the Future of E-Publishing, none of us were. So a bunch of us went. The panelists included various writers, editors, and publishers, and I have no complaint about the discussion...except that BVC is on the leading edge of innovative epublishing. To the best of my knowledge, we're the first online author's cooperative, we have over 40 members, we've published work that made it to the New York Times Bestseller list, we sell our ebooks to libraries internationally, we include a wide range of genres (sf/f, Romance, historical fiction, YA, nonfiction, mystery, thriller, horror, etc.), and we are actively developing new models of cooperative publishing. Surely such a panel might make some slight reference to what we're doing?

So we made our presence known. At least, one of us went up and spoke to the moderator and got added to the panel. The usual result is that afterwards, panelists and audience members want to know more about us. Some of these conversations get as far as, How do I join? and a few of those go farther. Sometimes we as individual BVC members make contact with other groups of authors and we're still trying to figure out ways of supporting one another. BVC has an organic, consensus-based decision-making process that drives many people nuts and often results in very slow changes.

You meet people, you chat, you plant ideas on one another's minds. Maybe hearing how we do things will inspire other authors to group themselves together in ways that best serve them. Maybe some of the other seeds that are scattered bear unexpected and innovative fruit. Most will likely come to nothing other than a pleasant chat. But you never know...

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