Being a Guest at a Convention

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As a follow-up to last week’s POST about being invited as the Gaming Guest of Honor for next year’s Great Falls Gaming Rendezvous, I wanted to talk a little bit about what being a guest of a convention means to me.

In my line of work, there are a fair number of people for whom being a guest of honor at conventions is old hat. In fact, a few act as though they’ve come to expect it. Most, however, are genuinely grateful for the opportunity, and approach the event with enthusiasm and excitement.

I’m still unknown enough in my writing career that being invited as a guest of a convention is tremendously flattering. Even though the vast majority of con attendees will have no idea who I am or what I’ve done, it means something to me that the invitation is extended. It’s a chance for me to introduce myself to a group of people I may not have met otherwise, and on a more mercenary note, it’s also a chance, as a writer, to grow my “brand” by (hopefully) attracting a few new fans who will enjoy my work.

Many of us are introverted by nature, so having to be “on” for an entire weekend can be overstimulating and very tiring. “Putting yourself out there” with a bunch of new people can be pretty intimidating if it’s something one is not used to doing. Having a few moments alone — to read, watch a little TV, have a beverage or a snack — is tremendously valuable private time to recharge and prepare for the next round. Getting a good night’s sleep is helpful too, but the temptation to stay up late because you’re having such a good time can be difficult to overcome, particularly if alcohol is involved.

There are a couple of conventions local to me that invite many of the same guests every year. In my humble opinion, this does a great disservice to the fans. It assumes that nothing ever grows or changes, and that people want to see the same faces and hear the same stories and jokes year after year. It’s one of the reasons I’ve decided not to appear at GeekKon as a local guest in 2018: after being so honored a number of years in a row, it really is time for me to step aside. This represents an opportunity for the convention to find some new locals to promote, and who will promote them in return. That turn-over of guests brings in new ideas, fresh perspective, and may attract a new group of fans to attend, and that kind of cross-pollination is essential to the life and good health of any convention. It’s tempting to stick with something familiar year after year, but I fear growing stale and irrelevant along with such familiarity. A little change is a good thing now and then to keep us from getting too comfortable and keep us moving forward in life.

One thought on “Being a Guest at a Convention

  1. It was a bit surreal to be a quest at grand Canadian Steampunk Expo this year.
    You know how introverted I am. đŸ˜‰

    Your right about being on or in character for the whole time and being asked as a “person of expertise” can be quite overwhelming.

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