Do you ever go to cons and want to see a specific person? And yet, despite knowing they’re present, you still don’t see them? Or you do see them, but they don’t seem to have time to talk to you?
Now I’m not talking about panels here, I’m talking about social encounters. You know, hanging out in the bar, sitting in the con suite, meeting up at parties. Some of those just don’t happen, and here are some of the reasons why…
1) Your target is socialized out (or not very social at all.)
For me, a rampant introvert, socializing is exhausting. I usually do pretty well for the first day or so at a con, but after a couple of days, I’m getting mentally stressed. I tend to revert to only talking to my friends, or hiding in my hotel room and watching reruns of Mythbusters.
This isn’t a slight on any con-goer. This is completely a factor of self-protection. I get stupid and surly when I’m worn out, and I know it. I don’t make a good impression, so it’s not beneficial to my career to expose people to that.
I’m not avoiding you, I’m avoiding over-stimulation.
2) Your target is busy.
A lot of times, writers go to cons with outside deadlines hanging over their heads. We do our panels, and then sometimes have to head back to the hotel room to…gasp!…work. Yes, some of us work during cons. We may not have any other choice.
Also, some writers are busy doing con things, like 15 panels, and organizing, and shepherding other writers (Rhonda Eudaly, I’m thinking of you.)
So the author may not have much time to socialize…
3) Your target has other friends.
Sometimes this comes off as cliquishness. Your target writer is heading off to lunch with 6 other writers and then they’re in the bar in the middle of a crowd and then they’re in the con suite with their buddies…
They probably aren’t snubbing you (although, yes, it’s possible they are).
Instead, they’re probably just enjoying a chance to hang out with old friends they don’t get to see very often. Especially ones who come from across the country to attend a con. Authors are allowed to have friends, too.
4) Your target doesn’t party.
Yes, your target author may not be a party-goer. Or a bar-goer. Or a con suite visitor.
Personally, I’m usually in bed by 9 PM- so I’m not going to be at parties late into the night. On the other hand, I usually eat breakfast alone, because I’m there as soon as the hotel restaurant opens. (I’m often awake before 5AM).
5) The con is huge.
I had trouble with this one at the last WorldCon. There were two main hotels and, while the con was mostly in the convention center, that thing was huge. There were people whom I knew to be at that con….but I never saw them. It happens.
6) Also, they have a lot of names in their heads.
Most authors interact with hundreds of people on-line. Not every day, but over the course of their career. If you’ve commented on their blog before, or interacted with them on FB, or talked with them on a forum, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll remember you.
Don’t take that personally.
I’m terrible with putting names and faces together. If I could put everyone into a seating chart, I would do better, but otherwise it can be a challenge. (Especially if you use a different identity online. If you’re MONSTER23 online, but your tag says Jimmy Smith, I’m probably not going to make the connection.)
So be patient. Authors meet a lot of people at cons, and some, like me, struggle to remember names and faces.
If you DO want to see a specific author, here are some hints:
1) Go to their reading/signing/panel and say hi. (That’s where you can be sure of finding them.)
2) Remember that they may have to rush off after a panel. Don’t consider it a personal affront if they can’t stay and talk with you. They probably have another commitment somewhere.
3) Try to remember the rules of polite social interactions, like not interrupting another conversation. (Yes, I’ve done this a couple of times and I always want to kick myself afterward. Personally, I”m still working on this one.) Harder said than done, I know.
I’m coming up on a con next weekend (ArmadilloCon, my personal favorite), and I will probably not get to talk to half the people I want there. It simply works that way.