I went to StokerCon and got the rewards that’ll build a career.
I want to up my game and begin using conventions to establish business connections. I’ve read dozens of articles over the years on how to network, but had neither the nerve nor the credentials to approach those on the next rung up on the ladder.
- This year’s StokerCon was the first to have a full weekend and have lots of workshops with professionals. What did I do?
- Assessed my personality. I’m introverted and anxious in general. But if I’m comfortable, I’m glib and pretty damn charming, so I’m told. This was my first “businessy” convention, so to keep up my glibness, I…
- …Kept my goals reasonable. If I spoke with editors and agents and was able to pitch my current project, that would be a success. To insure my glibness, I…
- …Talked about projects I had described many times. Rehersing would make me nervous (ain’t the way it’s supposed to work, I know, but I’m certain to grow out of this) so I made note only to mention “Diesel Dead” and use “The Flesh Sutra” and its preliminary ballot nod as an introduction/validation. This would work for…
- …Speaking with everyone. Not just pros but also my fellow aspirants. We’re all in the same boat, after all. Everyone has something I could learn. This worked well, because…
- …Workshops held all types of learning opportunities. Nancy Holder conducted a two hour workshop on discovering physical and mental cues to use when ratcheting up suspense to flat-out horror. Jo Fletcher, Stephen Graham Jones, and agent Ian Drury affirmed what I’d already heard about the market but provided an unexpected opportunity. Another big name’s workshop was a big-time slack-off by said big name, but another attendee found where I can improve another project I’m working on. The convention had other, built-in ways I could learn like…
- …editor pitch sessions, which I took one (those slots went quick), and paying a semi-pro editor to review/edit the first 100 pages of DD.
How’d I do?
Three editors want see a synopsis of DD. Ian Drury surprised his workshop by giving those attending a pitch session with him. Had my business card, had my material down, had my glib on. He asked for a synopsis. Meanwhile…
…Nancy Holder’s workshop held a boggling reward. After an arresting two hours, when the attendees milled around waiting to introduce themselves, I gathered my nerve and got out a business card. I walked up to her and said,
“Hi Miss Holder? My name’s Tim Burke and I had a novel on the preliminary ballot for the Stoker’s last year.”
“Really?” she smiled. “I was on the recommending panel. Which one was yours?”
I had forgotten she had been on the panel.
“‘The Flesh Sutra’?”
She gasped. “YOU’RE ‘The Flesh Sutra’? I loved ‘The Flesh Sutra’! I love your novel!”
And Nancy Holder flung her arms around my neck and gave me a big hug.
Yes, this all was worth the money. It’ll be a couple of years before I go across the country, but in terms of business this has helped me in ways I’m still processing.
I stayed a day after the con ended to do Vegas. Ate at buffets: YOU SUCKED HARRAH’S, however CAESAR’S was $60 a plate and was so-o-o good. I hardly ate the next day I was so full.
And I finally got to fire some automatic weapons at Battlefield:Vegas. I’m writing it off as research.