Friday, May 1, 2009

To Conference or not?

The lesfic community is a fairly small niche. How many conferences can lesbian writers and readers attend in a year? As a writer, do you feel that attending a conference will help your visibility, hence, your sales? Or do you find that meeting other authors and readers in a social atmosphere is what enriches and rejuvenates you as a writer?

I'm sure attending a conference isn't on every writer's or reader's most important things to do, but most writers, aspiring writer or adoring reader will attend one or more in their lifetime. Choosing which is becoming more difficult when there are more than just one to choose from. Granted, for the lesbian purist, the hot places to be seen are at the Golden Crown Literary Society Conference and Provincetown's Women's Festival Week. The later isn't really a "writing conference" per se, merely a week-long revelry of music, dancing and activities where bookstore readings are attended by new and popular lesbian authors. The Golden Crown Literary Society is an organization dedicated to the study, encouragement and preservation of lesbian literature. A very admirable goal, for sure. Their yearly conference moves around the country and they award the Goldie Awards for lesbian fiction. The GCLS offers a great benefit to authors strapped for cash by offering Scholarships which helps out in conference fees, food, lodging, etc. Before I move on, there is another very popular and worthy conference held in New Orleans each year, Saints and Sinners. It's a high powered conference with popular and new gay and lesbian authors filled with interesting panels and activities dealing with all aspects of gay and lesbian literature.

All of these conferences have their sponsors and favorite "sons and daughters," or popular authors who attend those select conferences year after year. What I have noticed is that certain sponsors and some authors have pulled out of some conferences, including their sponsorship and attendance. One can't help but wonder why and what makes a certain author prefer one conference over the other, besides relative proximity to the location where the conference is held. Travel and hotels are expensive as are the conferences themselves.

Which brings me to the economy. With the shrinking budget squeezing every dime and nickel for life's necessities like food, meds, car payments, mortgage, rent, etc., how do you decide if or which conference to attend? Will the economy put a hit on one or more of these conferences?

I invite authors, publishers and readers to comment. There are also other genre conferences that are not gay or lesbian oriented like Fantasy, SF, Romance and Horror conventions. Do you feel you, as a lesbian or gay genre author, can benefit more from attending one of these conventions instead of our beloved gay/lesbian conferences?

I would love to hear your thoughts.


DK said...

Well as a reader who for the first time attended Ptown last year. Getting to attend all the readings and meeting the Lesbian authors was a dream come true. I was around 35 before I even realized that there were lesbian and Gay reading material out there. I think that the GCLS and Ptown and any other Conferences that celebrate and award these fine authors is an AWESOME thing.

I don't think I would get as much out of the other conferences. And I say that as an avid reader and an author.

Just thought I would add my twwo cents worth.


Patty G. Henderson said...

Thanks, DK. I've never been to Ptown but it sounds like a wild time. I was only able to attend the 2005 GCLS Conference in New Orleans and have also attended many non-gay/lesbian conventions for Horror and SF. It doesn't feel as liberating as being at GCLS.

That being said, I am thrilled to hopefully meet up with you at Mickey Con...oops, the GCLS Conference, this year in Mickey Town. LOL.

MJ said...

Hello Dark Mistress-
I have attended two GCLS Conventions and one PTown. As an author, both offered benefits of being seen by readers and getting to mingle with other authors, editors and publishers.
I have to say that for me, GCLS is more beneficial because I still have so much to learn and they offer "classes" if you will, and workshops and guest speakers that not only instruct you on how to better your craft, but inspire you to get out and write.
However, when it comes to money, I choose PTown. Simply because the last couple of GCLS conventions have been held in places where you kind of have to stay on site. And I can't afford those places. In NOLA, I stayed in a hotel a half a mile away that cost way less than the hotel that hosted the convention.
All other things being equal, I think I'd choose GCLS, but this year it's PTown again.
Just my two cents :)

Patty G. Henderson said...

Your Dark Mistress agrees that staying at con hotels is extremely expensive. That being said, there are always hotels near the con-selected hotel where the savings can be considerable. Often, some convention hotels can be very affordable. SOME....LOL.