Post Baycon 2024

Good evening! It’s Monday night, still sweltering in Sacramento, and I really need to talk about the event Melissa and I attended this weekend. The ups, the downs, and the things I hope for the future.

To begin with, we had a great time! I had the privilege of participating on 4 panels this year, two on July 4th, and two on July 5th.

The very first panel, The Business and Writing and Publishing, was moderated by Dr. Wanda Kurtcu and was reasonably well attended. I thought we’d talk more about publishing and the professional author life, but we wound up going over some very good fundamentals of writing and finishing stories. If you can’t finish a story or see an idea through to its conclusion, none of the publishing advice in the world will help, so I thought it was a good use of our time, and the people in the audience seemed to enjoy it.

My next panel, from 8:30PM to 10:00PM on the 4th of July, was How Do I Get Published. Baycon takes place at the Marriott directly across the street from Great America, so naturally I assumed people would be more interested in fireworks at that time. Therefore, I brought Scotch to share with the panelists, a very tasty 12 year old Grangestone. To my surprise, we had 12 to 15 people to speak to. I shared with them, too, and we had a good time.

I should note that I wound up the moderator for that panel. I’m told I did an excellent job, and I felt pretty good about it.

The panels the next day were also great, though the Can We Survive AI Assisted Disinformation panel went off the rails a little bit. There’s a lot of fear and confusion around AI, and politics crept into the topic as well. While addressing the political component, I remained as neutral as possible.

When not on panels, I was in the dealer’s room, with the Water Dragon and Small Publishing in a Big Universe tables. I pitched my book and others, and had quite a number of sales. I had badge ribbons to hand out, and my gimmick was that, before I’d give out the ribbon, they had to let me tell them about my books. A fair exchange, I think.

I didn’t pressure anyone. I mostly just talked, sometimes going so far as to geek out about favorite stories and authors. And, I did my best to promote other books on the tables, even directing people to the Liminal Fiction table when the person clearly wanted something they could find there.

Also, I recorded some Live from Baycon 2024 episodes. I really enjoy hosting the podcast from time to time. The people I interviewed said they had a lot of fun and thanked me for the experience. The Live from Baycon 2024 episodes should go up next month or so, and I’ll provide links when they’re available.

There’s so much I can talk about. I met some new people. I got to hang out with some old friends and acquaintances. We went to dinner with friends and fellow writers a few times and really enjoyed their company. Because there weren’t any readings at the convention, we had some of our own. About 10 people showed up for the reading the first night. I wasn’t able to make it to the next night, but I think there were about 10 people then, too.

Finally, I have to talk about something truly unexpected. Many of the books I’ve sold have gone out to friends, families, acquaintances… people that know me and may be otherwise incentivized to say nice things. One of the days, someone I didn’t know, that bought my book at a previous con, sought me out. She LOVED The Repossessed Ghost and wanted to know if there was more. My story struck a chord with her. The joy she expressed brought joy to my heart. It was such a powerful experience for me.

That’s most of the positive experiences. I don’t really have much in the way of complaints, thought I have some suggestions. In no particular order, I’ll list them out:

  • The primary purpose of the name badges is so that people can see the names of the other attendees. The real estate of the badges this year was mostly taken up with the convention logo, so they wound up using a very small font for the names themselves. My suggestion is to minimize the logo and prioritize the names.
  • Registration was a bit of a mixed bag. I was able to get my badge early and easily, but there were some oddities. If you were a participant on panels, you could get your badge from ProgOps. If you were a pre-order, such as a board member for the SPSF, there was a different table to go to for your badge. If you were working in the dealers’ room marketplace, you could get a badge there. Some of these locations had lanyards. Some did not. If you were like me and did all three things, you needed to go to multiple places to get all the things. When registration opened for real, the line went long and didn’t appear to move very fast. I went by the line multiple times on July 4th and saw my friend Marvin several times, not moving. I appreciate the effort that goes into managing registration and badges and whatnot. From my perspective, it seems like there was a lot of room for improvements.
  • The Guest of Honor said she was well taken care of, but her book was nowhere to be found in the marketplace. That seems like a huge misstep, and can easily be fixed in future conventions.
  • Programming was very different this year, and I’m not sure it worked out. There were definitely gaps, and the final schedule didn’t get out in a very timely fashion. Because of this, many of the rooms were mislabeled. For example, the Can We Survive AI panel was labeled as Redshirts outside the door.

There’s more I can say, but I’d rather end on a more positive note. Running conventions is hard. While there was room for improvement, I think Baycon 2024 was an overall success, and I’m very glad I attended.

I’m looking forward to Baycon 2025!

But before that, there will be Loscon…

2 thoughts on “Post Baycon 2024

  1. I’m so glad you made the trip. It was great to see you and Melissa again. What’s great about a local Con, compared to the big media-driven conventions, is a sense of community…. like family. And I love this anecdote of how you met someone who enjoyed reading your book.

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