P-Con IX Report!

Somewhere along the line Ted and I developed enough opinions about P-Con that this year we ended up on the committee to help run it. In fact, apparently I ended up the Co-Chair on the committee, which I discovered on Saturday morning when Pádraig introduced me as such. :)

This year’s P-Con was the first run in association with the Irish Writers’ Centre, where the con was held. We had NO IDEA how that was going to be recieved, because normally cons are held at hotels and normally there’s a bar and food readily available on the premises, and normally there’s a lift instead of just several flights of stairs. However, to our delight and relief, there was no more than the most mild of muttering about the stairs and the lack of booze.

It also seemed to me that the not having a bar aspect actually encouraged people to, you know, go to panels. It’s possible we also had a particularly good series of panels that people wanted to attend, but I really was left with the impression that the different arrangement did give people more reason/excuse to go to panels. We *did* have a green room with tea, coffee, and goodies, but it was cleverly located on the 2nd floor, so you had to go all the way up in order to get them, and once you’d done that, heck, one panel room was across the hall and the other was downstairs now. :)

Speaking of goodies, on a personal note I am terribly grateful to all the attendees for honoring the donation jar *for* the goodies. I baked literally hundreds of cookies, muffins and cupcakes, and the donation box brought in over €100 toward the care & feeding of P-Con X and the IWC, so really truly, thank you all for honoring that. And also thank you for the little dances of glee that some of you performed, which certainly stroked my baker’s ego. :)

We ran 50 minute panels in order to give everybody 10 minutes between then to go to the loo, get up and down stairs, and have snacks, a decision which was recieved with *overwhelming* positivity. So too was lunch hour, though it was commented that we do need to talk to the nearest cafes and prepare them for the sudden influx on the con days.

Every panel I went to was interesting and well-attended, and every panel I was on was fun (at least for me! O.O) and well-attended, which was also gratifying. If our Anne McCaffrey tribute panel had been another five minutes I think we’d have all been in tears. Any number of us were pretty bright-eyed as it was. The guests of honor were charming and informative, and the feedback I got from people I talked to after the con was very positive. I think we done good.

We have big plans going forward with P-Con. For one thing, next year is P-Con’s tenth anniversary, so we’re really looking forward to shaking some things up and adding new items to the tried and true that we all know and love. One thing I’m going to be heavily invested in is creating a writer’s track, so that people interested in the craft, business and process of writing will be able to attend panels exclusively about that. I think our association with the Writers’ Centre is the perfect opportunity to do this, and will be mutually beneficial and huge, huge fun.

We’re also planning to dip our toes into other genre waters, and will hopefully be bringing in some new names and faces as guests: after all, there’s a tremendous amount of crossover in romance and mystery, and P-Con bills itself as a written-word convention, so we think there’s a lot of potential there for expanding all of our audiences.

At the same time, we’re looking at paring down the Named Guests on our lists and advertisement, as we’ve found that a dozen writers whose names people aren’t intimately familiar with can cause potential con-goers to be embarrassed for not recognizing all the names, which in turn can cause them to shy away from attending*. So it’s our goal to have our Guests of Honor and five to seven Named Guests, particularly on our physical media for advertisment, and to ask some of our local, familiar con-going faces to participate as panelists and be acknowledged on the website.

Speaking of Guests of Honor! Next year’s Guests of Honor are Cory Doctorow and Sarah Pinborough, both of whom I am tremendously excited about having at P-Con. Sarah was a guest this year and was a positive riot, and Cory is a major league player whose presence at our convention is going to be overwhelmingly awesome. Frankly, I would buy my membership sooner rather than later, because I’m almost certain we’re going to have to put a cap on the number of con attendees due to space restraints. Here’s the link to register.

(Admittedly, that page is for last year’s registration, but I’m *betting* that if you use it to buy your membership now, we’re gonna be able to figure out that it’s for 2013. So, seriously: buy often, buy early, because I think we’re gonna run out of space next year.)

*How, you say, do I know this, if these con-goers have been scared away? Because I have talked to a lot of people about this outside the context of the convention. It’s the same thing that happens at public book-signings: people will hurry the other direction, trying desperately not to make eye contact, if yours is not a name they know, because they’re embarrassed to not know who you are, and are afraid of embarrassing themselves and you by admitting it. In Fairbanks last fall, when we set up a book signing at my university, I warned the guy who was organizing it that this would happen. He didn’t believe me, until people who came into the alumni office all the time got as far as the door, saw a book signing going on with a writer they didn’t know, and started backing the hell away. The fella running it was flabbergasted and amused, and started hauling these people in to introduce them and prove I wasn’t scary. :) Same thing happens with gigantic guest lists for conventions!

%d bloggers like this: