By Jeffe Kennedy
Last weekend I attended the 40th World Fantasy Convention (WFC). In fact, I’m writing this post as I fly home, so I’m in that post-conference phase where everything I heard and learned has melted together in my brain.
This was only the second time I attended World Fantasy—the first being two years ago in Toronto. A lot has changed for me in the last two years. Also, I faithfully attend RWA and RT. Those factors and a few others made this a very different conference for me.
As far as comparisons, WFC is much more like RWA. It’s mainly a professional conference, more on the business and craft side and heavily attended by agents and editors. My agent, Connor Goldsmith, attended. He is still fairly new to me and this was the first time we met in person. Happily, we got on terrifically and he did amazing work for me at the conference. Based in New York, Connor already knows the editors—far better than I do. Especially as many of the fantasy editors are not people I’ve met before. With THE TEARS OF THE ROSE coming out in a couple of weeks (11/25!) and with us in talks to add three more books to the series, the timing worked perfectly. Connor is all the outgoing that I’m not and he dedicated himself over the several days to making sure I met everyone he thought I should.
As a result, I spent a lot of time in the bar, with Connor and his agent buddies, which made for a very different conference experience. Two agents I spent a great deal of time with were Jennifer Udden and Amy Boggs, from Donald Maass Literary Agency. Amy reps Thea Harrison and I’ve been glomming her Elder Races series lately, so we had a lot of discussions about the books and the series. Amy is so smart and just lovely to talk with. Jennifer reps more romance along with SFF and she’s a delight. In fact, we’re hoping to have her out to Albuquerque this fall for my local RWA chapter’s conference, LERA’s Enchanting the Page.
Hanging out with the agents and hearing their conversations lends a different perspective, as they reported back to each other what editors were saying, which pitches they received well and what they just did not want to hear. Over and over I heard them saying the editors pretty much cut short any pitch involving paranormal romance or urban fantasy. Conversely, they all wanted epic fantasy. As we all know, this could change in six months, but that’s where things stand now.
Other than that, I attended my first SFWA business meeting and worked the SFWA informational table. I met so many people I’d only talked to online and I’m happy to report that everyone was welcoming, inclusive and generally delightful. I made new friendships and I’m coming home eager to volunteer to support the organization.
I give WFC a big thumbs up as a professional writers conference. Next year it will be in Saratoga Springs, so still in the US. (They’re talking Helsinki after that, so this is a good opportunity to avoid the international travel ticket.)
Anything I left out? I’m happy to answer questions in the comments!
(P.S. I just landed in Dallas to find out that the RT Reviewers Choice Awards Nominees were announced and THE TEARS OF THE ROSE has been nominated for best Fantasy Romance and THE MARK OF THE TALA for Book of the Year. WOW. I'm just thrilled and verklumpt.)