I just made a Facebook post that is SO LONG, it might as well be a blog post. So I thought I’d post it here too. Without further ado:
TL:DR: That was a complicated weekend.
Long version: I’m seeing everyone’s OryCon posts, what a good time they had, how successful a con it was, how glad they were to see everyone, etc. And I’m so happy to hear that–honest, I am. I love cons too, and usually have a really great time, even if they are intensely over-social experiences from which I have to recover afterwards.
It was a difficult con for me. And for Mark, too. While we did see a lot of people and had some good social (and business) connections, mostly we just both found ourselves wishing we hadn’t done it.
The biggest problem was the dealer’s table–well, the dealer’s room in general, I think. You know, the musty, unwelcoming space in the sub-basement, far off the beaten track from the rest of the con, where at least one of us had to sit all day, every day. A number of folks came by and visited us there, which was very kind. But, other than our programming, we were pretty much there all the time, missing all the usual bar-con and other casual social/business interaction that is my favorite part of a con.
Which would have been okay if we’d sold a lot. But, frankly, this con was a financial disaster for us. Our gross sales just about covered our meals and parking. Which doesn’t take into account the costs of the matting, backing board, bags, paper, ink, etc. of the products we sold, or the time spent putting it all together, or–crazy concept I know!–the time and effort the artist put into making the art. Or the three solid days we took off from actual, in-house paying work to go sit at that table. Or the several prints we donated to the very worthy charity auction the next booth was running, or the several other prints we donated as swag for the hard-working volunteers. Or the cost of the table and the registration to begin with. And then of course we bought a few things from other dealers, like you do. We would have been much, much better off financially just staying home and working all weekend. Our OryCon table did poorly last year, but not nearly as poorly as it did this year. We will certainly not be running a table at OryCon next year–if we attend at all.
I honestly don’t know if tables make sense for us at all any more. Mark used to make thousands of dollars a weekend, even at the small cons. Probably if we want to do this at all, we would need to look at bigger cons, comic-cons–but those cost thousands of dollars just to register for a table. I’m not at all sure we can take that risk.
So that was the biggest thing…but not all the things. Of course I was disappointed to not win the Endeavour, but that’s the way it goes, and that was really fine; I’ve been enjoying calling myself an Endeavour Loser, and I’m certainly going to put the plaque up in my office. I was actually more disappointed that not a soul turned up at my reading. I passed many friends in the hall on my way there, and told them about it (and I had posted it here, and it was in the schedule)–but, yes, I know there are a lot of things going on at a con, and readings don’t generally get a lot of attendance.
And so I posted about the reading–and honestly, you guys! The outpouring of love, empathy, support, connection, sympathy–which is still coming in–I feel so, so lucky to have you people, my friends, reaching out like that. That made a HUGE difference for me, and I so, so appreciate that.
Yet it also only makes me wonder about cons in general. What are they for–for me, right now? Clearly not for reaching people with my work–or with Mark’s work, despite his very lovely, very generous award. And stuck in the musty sub-basement of the Marriott, this con at least was not even for reaching people for conversation and connection, beyond the few of you who made the journey down to see us. I get SO MUCH more connection online, as all your comments made so clear. Rushing out to Beaverton for Authorfest was not for connecting with anyone either, beyond my immediate table-mates; particularly since we had to rush back to Portland the moment it was over to break down the dealer’s table, then wait in the queue for hours for the privilege of bringing our car down the ramp for loading. (Which we did not do; Mark carried everything up through the hotel in those absurd elevators.)
I mean, I don’t know. We did have some good, useful, constructive, and fun conversations with folks. We both picked up some definite and some potential future work–good, interesting, exciting work. We got out there in the public eye (sort of) (I guess). Lots of people saw Mark’s new work, and praised it–and he did win that nice ribbon. As a result of a couple of the conversations, a new project is ambushing my brain–which is super exciting and I must clear all my decks so I can work on it!
I’m not prepared to say OryCon was a total waste of time…but, I am sure happy it is done. And we will be doing a number of things differently next year, and questioning signing up for tables in general, for all the cons we go to.
What do you all think? Do you go to sci fi cons to buy art and books in the dealer’s room, or is that a thing of the past? We were not the only dealers to find the room slow and quiet; in fact, only a few of the dealers said they did well at all. Costuming/clothing sells well, as do toys. Other than that…would you all rather just buy your genre-related stuff online? Is the market just flooded? Is everyone poor?
Well, enough pondering. Back to work.