The thing is, though, you don't really get to rub elbows with them as much as you'd like, or at least I didn't. With the notable exception of Dan Wells (http://www.fearfulsymmetry.net/), who decided to play some zombie board games with fans, most of the writers and editors rubbed elbows with...other published writers and editors.
It makes sense. I'm sure many of them know each other already and it's natural to hang out with people you know, rather than strangers. And many of the writers (and almost all the editors it seemed) were here for business, not just to have fun. In that case, it makes sense to socialize with people who can help your career. It also feels like you have to 'make your bones' in order to get into that top tier. That also makes sense, there are a lot of aspiring writers but you don't really know if someone has 'the goods' until they've been published as well. I almost feel like there's this club you get invited into once you've published something in a major publishing house.
Here's the four levels of elbow-rubbing that I saw:
The highest level is composed of the 'name' authors, the editors of big publishing houses and the publishers themselves. These are the people I, and I imagine most people there, most wanted to meet and socialize with. This is also the hardest group, for me at least, to approach. I'm not saying anyone was unfriendly. Almost everyone* was very nice and pleasant. However, most of them were a bit dismissive and defensive. Probably because they get approached by the lower level elbows all the time, it makes them put their shields up.
The next level are the self-published or small press authors. These guys have made it...and haven't quite. They have books out, some have fans there, but they are clearly in the shadows of the upper-level writers. They tended to be very friendly and approachable. They also seemed to throw the best parties and went out of their way to make you feel welcome. I never got a brush off from a writer or publisher at this level.
The next level of elbow-rubbers are the people like me: the hungry, ambitious aspiring authors. Several people at this level have/are attending Odyssey, Clarion, Clarion West or other professional writer's workshops. A lot of us went to World Fantasy to meet editors, agents and publishers. People who can help us make that transition from aspiring authors to published authors. We all seemed to sort of recognize each other, as well. Or maybe that's just me, but I felt completely at home socializing with other elbow-rubbers of this level. I wanted to help and support and encourage everyone I met, because we were all in the same boat, so to speak, and heading the same place. I wish I could have had more time to hang out but...well, next time I'll take more time off work so I can stay later.
Finally we come to the fans. You know, the people who actually put on conventions and attend them for the fun of it. These are the people who went to every panel and reading they could. They had stuffed animals on their necks or shoulders. They carried around suitcases full of books for writers to sign for them. They seemed to ask the most inane questions if they got called on in a panel. I'm not trying to denigrate them (or not most of them, at least), they were also mostly very nice and fun-loving.
So, there were all were, each rubbing elbows, but mostly with people at our level. Of course, this is all subjective. It could all just be my perceptions and hang ups. I suck and networking, as I shall relate more, in depth, tomorrow.
*No, I'm not going to name names, but I am tempted...There's one guy who's books I'll never buy/read again