I attended MystiCon this weekend for the first time!
Technically, it was my second time registering for this event. The first time was last year, but because of school deadlines and such I couldn’t make it that weekend and ended up bowing out to work on papers. This was my first smaller, local fantasy convention, and it was definitely an interesting experience. I didn’t realize there was such a vibrant social group of local authors in my area! If you are one of those people interested in one day becoming a writer, I can’t recommend this kind of con enough. I learned a lot about what other authors of all stripes are doing in the area, especially in helping one another with marketing opportunities. Did you know that since last year, local authors have been coming together for what is called the Roanoke Author Invasion, a giant bookfair/signing event for regional authors of all kinds? I didn’t, but thank goodness I do now.
That was just one of the great things I learned about in the two days that I was able to attend MystiCon. I can’t wait for next year, when I will be applying to attend as an author and get a slot at one of the signing tables.
On the fan side, this year’s MystiCon was pretty big because the guest of honor was none other than George R.R. Martin himself. I am not going to lie, I was totally in line at 9:00 am Saturday morning for his 11:00 am event. He read two chapters of Winds of Winter that I hadn’t seen released elsewhere yet, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. There were no pictures allowed, but I sat right on the front row. He talked a lot about the burdens of fame, and how he wished he had become famous when he had more energy and could keep up with the demands of this new phase of his career.
Really, that brings me to what was, for me, the theme of the conference. What I kept hearing over and over was “Writing is a marathon, not a sprint.” This is something that keeps coming up in my life recently. I was inspired to see that most of the writers at this conference were also juggling day jobs, like me, and making that work. They spoke about how a writing career builds itself slowly, and no one is an overnight success. Even authors already living off their work said the same thing. One author, Liz Long, had a panel on marketing for writers, and she emphasized that pretty emphatically by talking about her own career. Liz has six books out, and a seventh on the way, all self-published. She told us that, as a self-published author, one couldn’t expect to make money back on the first or even second book. Any extra income should be reinvested in the next book, if the author did earn out. That was really important information that I wish I had heard when I was a younger author. Too often, it seems, self-publishing is talked up as a silver bullet approach to a writing career, as opposed to an alternate path that has just as many pitfalls as traditional publishing.
In any case, I have a lot to think about and work on in the wake of this conference. I’ll leave you, then, with the only picture I have (I know, that’s a bit of a fail) for you to enjoy. Behold, the Woman-King of Westeros.