So, Sand Diego Comic-Con just wrapped up. Along with some of the usual staples of the convention world – Otakon, Dragon*Con, etc – I’ve been getting inundated with stories about con life and narrated events of the con-going experience. In some ways, they make me lament the loss of conventions in my professional world. In other ways, they make me glad that I have no conventions currently slated.
To clarify, I haven’t retired from conventions. I’m honestly not sure what my current convention dynamic is. I just know I have no conventions currently scheduled, I have no plans to make any major convention pushes, and I’m strangely okay with that. Conventions are a LOT of work. Even discarding the panels – which can take a surprising amount of time to put together – a convention weekend generally involves about a week’s worth of work in either direction after the convention. Whether it’s arranging travel, organizing supplies, orchestrating the whole process, it may happen in bite-sized chunks but it adds up.
Conventions have never been that big of a deal for me, commercially. I sold a fair number of books at conventions, but what conventions really did was push my name into the spotlight (such as it was). I might move a few dozen books at a convention, but that number would be dwarfed by the online sales that would follow in the days and weeks after. But the thing is, that movement was likewise dwarfed if I could actually get somebody to write a review on Amazon.
I stopped prioritizing conventions chiefly because of burnout, and because a convention very near & dear to my heart really did me wrong. But what made it so easy to stop pushing to do conventions was the decreasing gains from them. Not unlike fanzines in the 70s and 80s, conventions were once the staple for artists and authors wanting to promote themselves. Now? Now, I’m not entirely sure what conventions meaningfully offer to creators.
The scary thing is, though, I’m not sure what’s taken their place.