Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Writers Behaving Badly

Remind me to never again do two conventions (GenCon and WorldCon) in the same month where I am manning a booth, speaking, signing, and reading. It is downright exhausting. Fortunately for the world, I managed to keep my patience and my tact firmly in check. At least until well after we left WorldCon.

However, that doesn't mean that I don't have a few thoughts. I've titled this "Writers Behaving Badly" not for the usual fun reason. Between the two conventions I saw some things I would consider poor form for anyone attempting to become a professional writer. Consider this a list of what not to do at a convention.

If you preface a question to a panel with the phrase "This is an interesting question…," just stop. First, it's not interesting. Second, it is most likely off-topic. Third, if it IS an interesting question, it will be self evident. Fourth, you are trying way too hard to be clever or erudite and failing in a big way.

If you want to make a comment to a panel and the topic has moved on to a different subject, put your hand down unless it is vitally important. Believe me, it probably isn't vitally important. Especially on the fourth day of the convention. I'm sorry the moderator didn't get to you. Hopefully next time.

If you want to ask a question of a panel, ask it in the form of a question. Seriously. Just ask the question. Don't give us the five minute lead up. Don't give us your funny story attached to it. Just ask the question. Also, make sure you are actually asking a question and not commenting in the form of a question.

Do not ask a panelist a question that you have already emailed them about and received an answer for. It makes you look like someone just looking for attention and like you didn't listen to the advice the first time. Especially if the question has an obvious answer that you answered yourself in the original email. (Yes. I was annoyed.)

Follow Up: When the panelist is short with you, don't then track them down after the panel to literally get on your knees to beg for forgiveness. It embarrasses the panelist and makes you look, again, like someone desperate for attention.

It is not OK to force your way into a conversation to give your card to that publisher or editor you really want to work with. Especially when they are obviously involved in something else. Interrupting them will leave a bad impression. Trust me on this one.

If you are at a party or a kaffeeklatch or a literary beer or just at the bar and the topic strays from the point you are trying to make, it is OK to bring the conversation back to your point—once. Not four or five times. If the conversation strays away from what you are trying to talk about a second (or third or fourth) time, get the hint that no one else wants to talk about it. Especially if you are playing the Me-Show.

It is not all about you. I know sometimes it feels like it. I know you are excited about the convention. I know you want to network, to brag, to let people know about the cool stuff you are doing. You can do that in small amounts. But if all you are doing is looking for a way to open your mouth to talk about yourself—whether through asking a question or commenting on something just said and bringing the conversation around to your work—it will be noticed. Eventually, you will be mentally dismissed.

It is not OK to physically grab any author for whatever reason unless they know you well or they are about to be hit by a runaway trolley. Especially if they look like they are on a mission (to go to the damn bathroom). Seanan can get away with having strangers distract me so she can pounce on me because I know her. It is not cool to grab your favorite author/editor/publicist by the arm to say how much you love their work. Grabbing a stranger at a con is bad, mmm-kay? Don't do it. It could result in a bad result and blood. This goes for people you know online but have never met in person.


Aug. 31st, 2011 07:15 am (UTC)
Egad. I hope these weren't all the *same* person.
Aug. 31st, 2011 07:25 pm (UTC)
No. Not all the same con.