Friday, September 09, 2011

Dragon*Con 2011

Last weekend was Dragon*Con, one of the largest SF&F fantasy conventions going, if not the largest, with around 40,000 fans that gather in a host of hotels in downtown Atlanta every Labor Day weekend. I've attended the past three years in a row, and Dragon*Con has become a highlight of my year. What makes it such a rewarding show for me is a) the incredible access to readers and fans of all ages and b) the large numbers of Pyr authors and personnel on hand. This year we were joined by our authors James Enge, Clay & Susan Griffith, Erin Hoffman, Andrew P. Mayer, Ari Marmell, Mike Resnick, Jon Sprunk, and Sam Sykes, as well as my editorial assistant Rene Sears, VP of Marketing/Director of Publicity Jill Maxick, e-Initiative Coordinator Lynn Pasquale, and freelance copyeditor Gabrielle Harbowy.

I drove down with Rene on Thursday, and the two of us, together with Clay and Susan Griffith, began unpacking the 60 something boxes and assembling the Pyr booth. Putting up the wireframe booth and then assembling it is like a giant jigsaw puzzle and after having done this twice before, it's actually becoming fun. Lynn and Jill arrived a few hours later to help, and set about building the huge display of sampler books. Right after they finished, a director arrived to inform us that we'd built the stack outside the lines marked by white tape that delineated the confines of our space.

Fortunately, Andrew P. Mayer was on hand to suggest a method that allowed us to move the stack instead of having to start over. After that herculean effort, Sam Sykes arrived in time to join us for beers (hmmm) at my favorite Dragon*Con hangout, Max Lager's. What makes this show for me is friends. I love the work hard/play hard vibe, so after getting everything set up for Friday's opening, we had a *very* late night at Max's as our reward. Followed by the bar High Velocity in the Marriott.

And then the show started. Friday the Exhibit Hall opens at 1pm and goes until 7pm, and I had three panels afterwards, making it a racing start. We brought a huge number of the aforementioned free samplers to give out, double what we brought last year, but that didn't stop them being pretty much gone in under two days, same as last time. What was truly gratifying was the number of readers who remembered us from last year and were glad we were back. Equally gratifying was the way we all worked together to promote each others books, with truly above and beyond the call efforts on the part of Sam Sykes and Jon Sprunk.

Saturday was 10am to 7pm and no panels, though I did sneak off to record two back to back shows of the wonderful podcast Writing Excuses with Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Howard Taylor. I also gave an interview to George Holochwost of Mtv Geek!. The result is his very generous article "A Visit with Pyr Books." Then it was back to Max's Larger and (subsequently) High Velocity.

Sunday was another 10 to 7, punctuated by the Pyr Presents Panel, an almost-two-hour panel event where yours truly and all nine of our authors take the stage to talk about forthcoming books along with a PowerPoint presentation of fantastic cover art.  Then later that evening, Clay & Susan had a private event courtesy of James Marsters (of Buffy fame) who was reading selections from their novel, The Greyfriar (Vampire Empire, Book 1). James is reading for the forthcoming audiobook, a fact that has created quite a bit of buzz.

I had a 10pm sword & sorcery themed panel "Blood & Iron" that evening, which was seriously fun despite cutting into serious reward time. 

Monday was 10am to 5pm, but since some of my wonderful publishing family had left, those that remained felt their loss. Rene, Gabrielle, Andrew, and Clay & Susan remained. At 5pm, we were joined by my friends David Alastair Hayden, Cooper Chun, and Will Cockrell, and this crack team, armed with last year's experience, had the booth broken and packed in 59 minutes flat. 

But a tropical storm (!) kept us from driving home, so David, Cooper, Will, Clay & I headed out for a final night of dinner and drinks, and then Clay & Susan kindly volunteered their floor. Early Tuesday morning I woke and drove home, and one of the most incredible weekends of my year came to a close.

Dragon*Con marked the third of three straight weeks of conventions for me, after WorldCon (Reno) and ArmadilloCon (Austin). It's been incredible to spend almost a month in the company of writers and artists and fans, fantastic to have had two extra weeks of post-Hugo glow to spend in the company of people who actually care about such things, and tremendous to have such a sustained period in this science fiction and fantasy Brigadoon. 

Thank you all for an amazing time, an amazing job, an amazing life.


Paul Weimer said...

I love the "Vanna White" gesture Rene is giving in that unpacking picture.

I remember you saying in an interview last year how much you enjoyed Dragoncon and found it valuable. I see that it was fun as well for you.

Jon Sprunk said...

Lou, it was an honor and a pleasure. I'm ready for next year!

David Alastair Hayden said...

Dragon*Con is always too brief. Should be two of them each year. Three maybe.

Unknown said...

What an awesome time it looks like!!! I've never been to an event like that before but always been fascinated by them and if I ever get the opportunity I'm going to check it out!!!

Lou Anders said...

Jen, you absolutely should. Also, you won't believe it until you do.

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