This past weekend I went to Balticon. For the uninitiated Balticon is one of the better sf conventions in the DC/Batimore area. While many sf conventions seem to focus on t.v. and movies Balticon focuses on the book side of the industry. In the years I've attended it I've heard talks and readings by James Morrow, Catherine Asaro, Brenda Clough, Neil Gaiman and tons more I'm just not thinking of right now.
The panels were all pretty strong; I took in talks on diving into an author you might not fully understand, new publishing trends, ways to rejuvenate your blog, religious themes in modern sf.....and an absolutely fantastic reading by Gene Wolfe. I felt kind of bad for him, because counting his wife there were only 15 people in attendance for a guy who published some of the best novels I've ever read. But the intimacy was fantastic and he approached it all with the right humor.
But really the thing about this year that really hit me was how many people are just getting their work out there no matter what. Having trouble finding a publisher for that novel? Well, do an audio version and put it up as a podcast. Can't find anyone interested in your short stories? Make them available in an ebook format. I met three authors this year who used methods like these to build up an audience and used that as a selling point to get a publisher for a new project. One of this year's guests of honor, horror author and podcaster Scott Sigler, did this as well. The overall feeling is that if you have a good idea, get it out there. If you like it someone else probably will, too.
I'll be digging through all the fliers and notes I took over the next few weeks. As I find real gems I'll do my best to share them here.