Potlatch ended up being a small convention, just one panel track. The writer’s workshop was wonderful, went very well. The Island of Lost Gods went over pretty well. I’ll go over the feedback again, digesting it and see if there’s any way to fix a few things. Our organizer, Vylar (http://www.vylarkaftan.net/) kept things moving and we hit our two hour limit right on the money. Too bad, in a way. It would have been nice to talk more with her and with the group. But I did have the chance to have dinner with her, her husband and part of the critique group.
One thing that struck me right away is how old everyone was. I’m not young at 41 but I felt like a kid compared to a lot of the attendees. It was a weird feeling. There was a knot of people around my age, some recent Clarion West grads, but on the whole…wow. It made for a strange vibe, like nursing home sometimes. Conventions need new blood, especially science fiction conventions. There was very little discussion or familiarity with contemporary writers or books. Very strange.
The trivia panel is a good example of what I’m talking about. The trivia was very obscure, which is fine, but I honestly don’t have much of a shot at knowing anything about publishing houses from the 40’s to the 80’s. Or trivia about Potlatch attendees of years past. Very insular.
I did like the more literary panels. Potlatch has a book of honor each year that they discuss. This year was “A Canticle for Leibowitz”. I appreciated the opportunity to talk about the book but I wonder if a panel is the right way to do that. It almost might work better in small group circles all talking about the book. It would certainly involve the audience more, which would be all to the good, I think.
The auction to raise money for Clarion West scholarships was a lot of fun, though I ran out of gas before the end of it. I scored some Howard Chaykin comics that I overbid on. Sokay, it’s for a good cause.
The hotel in downtown Seattle (literally in the shadow of the Space Needle) was nice. They were a little anal about not allowing food or drink from the hospitality suite out into the halls. That wasn’t very cool. But the hotel staff was otherwise very accommodating and friendly.
Although post of the panels were interesting or dull, only one infuriated me. The panel on e-publishing. Now, a single, 1-hour panel on epublishing is not nearly enough time. Next time I hope they break that subject up into separate panels. What stunned me was the wave of negativity towards e-publishing in general and self-published authors in specific. Though Vonda Mcintyre tried to talk a little about how e-publishing was reviving the career of midlist Sci-fi authors, some arrogant, elitist worm of a man ran roughshod over everyone there. No idea who he was, I’d like to look him up though.
Not for that. Just so I can make sure I don’t buy any of his books by accident.
Seriously, most of the panel was him talking about how irrelevant e-publishing was, how all self-publishing books were crap and how wonderful the ‘taste’ the great editors have and how they should be determining what everyone SHOULD read. Seriously, that’s what he was saying. Frell, what I wouldn’t have given for Dean Wesley Smith, J.A. Konrath or Kris Rusch to be there. The sheer arrogance of the man, the unearned superior tone. I’m still mad thinking about it. I wish I’d been on that panel, though it’s probably just as well I wasn’t. I’m not at my best debating when I’m angry.
I’m afraid that panel, on Sunday, colored the rest of the day for me. I’m still steamed up about it.
Look, I don’t know everything about e-publishing. I still haven’t finished up Smooth Running for publication and I still need to do an editing pass on Angel Odyssey and send it out. But I’ve been researching self-publishing and thinking about this a lot over the past year. But I like the way self-publishing is empowering writers. I like that you can find books for genres that Barnes and Noble just ain’t stocking anymore and that the New York houses aren’t buying. * Publisher aren’t selling what people want to read. There is a HUGE market for sci-fi action, for traditional fantasy that’s not from some RPG game, for space opera and more.
Yeah, I’ve read a lot of bad books from Amazon. But I’ve also come across nuggets of pure, personal awesome by writers like Andrea Host, Ric Locke, and my friend Luna Lindsey. There is such a small chance to get the attention of the New York houses. There is a lot of great work out there and how dare anyone tell the readers what they SHOULD read instead of what they enjoy reading.
*seriously, all they’re selling anymore is Urban Fantasy, Romance and some gasps of high fantasy.