rosefox: A cartoon cockroach in a bow tie counting gold coins. (money)
Rose Fox ([personal profile] rosefox) wrote2015-07-21 01:17 am

"Making plans, the kind that go awry"

Okay, folks who've been to the World Fantasy Convention, talk me through why anyone does this.

* $270 for my half of a shared hotel room (Thursday/Friday/Saturday nights)
* $120 for Amtrak tickets if I buy them now, more if I buy them later
* $275 for convention membership (!)
* some unknown amount $55 for the awards banquet, probably comparable to the Nebula Banquet price of $80 (and who knows whether the banquet food can be made safe for people with allergies)
* let's say $150 for food over the course of several days without access to a supermarket and a kitchen

Total: $895 $870. At a time when all costs are seen through the filter of impending babyness.

I can't remember who suggested to me that one's publisher is supposed to pick up the tab when one is award-nominated. I would not dream of asking Crossed Genres to do this thing; they have many better uses for that money. It's not the sort of event that PW would cover, so even if WFC gives press passes (which I'm not sure they do), I couldn't justify requesting one. This is 100% out of pocket.

As far as I can tell, all the membership buys me is access to two tracks of panels and two more of readings, and first crack at banquet tickets (noting that if banquet tickets entirely sell out to members before the con, there's no way for a non-member to get one at the con). I don't really see why I should bother with either. I almost never go to programming at cons except for Readercon*; all cons are barcons to me. If the banquet were some incredibly important part of being a WFA nominee, presumably they'd comp it for the nominees, which they don't. So that cuts $355 $330 off the price right there. $540 looks somewhat more reasonable for a three-day convention. ($620 $595 if it turns out the banquet is worth going to, and if banquet tickets are made available to non-members at the convention.) If I need to drop it further I can go up Friday instead of Thursday, which reduces my costs to $400. As far as I can tell from looking at past programs, award nominees get their pins and are generally fêted on Thursdays, and the whole reason I'm going is to enjoy being a nominee... but is that worth an extra day of hotel and restaurant food? Maybe not.

* I might make an exception for RWA this year, but that's because it's so refreshing to go to a professional conference; the programming is completely different from what we get at SF cons. Incidentally, to give you an idea of why I think $275 for WFC is so absurdly high, RWA's admission fee ranges from $450 to $675 (depending on whether you're an RWA member and how early you buy a ticket), but that gets you 10 full tracks of workshops specifically aimed at professional development plus access to pitch sessions, pro headshots, meals with keynote speakers who excel in their field, and the mass book-signing, in the company of 4000 writers and publishing professionals. That is a professional conference.

The next question is, would it be worth $400 to me to go to WFC at all, even if Long Hidden weren't nominated for the WFA? Because if it's not worth $400 as a barconning attendee then it's not worth $900 as a nominee.

Everyone talks about WFC as a place where pros hang out with other pros. That's cool; I know and like a lot of pros. There are plenty of familiar names on the membership list. I'd be willing to pay $400 for a long weekend of socializing with my friends, and even to pay $620 $595 for that plus being celebrated as the co-editor of an award-worthy book; that sounds like a blast. But to be more specific, people talk about WFC as a place where pros hang out and network with other pros. The only thing I hate more than networking is being networked at. I'm happy to meet people in the field and get to know them, but once networking-minded folks realize that chatting with me won't get them a more favorable PW review, they tend to wander off and find someone more productive to network with. Even if I have lots of friends at WFC, I won't really see much of them if their priority is making connections with people they don't know. This sort of setup is not terribly conducive to me having a good time.

So if you've been to WFC, please do tell: is it possible to do it as a three-day barcon, with actual socializing rather than networking, if one already knows a great many of the people who are going? And if you've attended WFC as a WFA nominee, what was the experience like for you at the convention, especially if you'd never been before?

EDIT: I'm told by a past attendee that one must purchase a membership in order to attend the awards ceremony at all. Even as a nominee. Wow. So that $275 really is not optional. CORRECTION TO EDIT: The WFC chair (whom I'm happy to regard as an authority on this topic) says that no membership is required for the award ceremony; it's open to the public. And the banquet tickets will be $50 to $55, so I've updated my calculations above accordingly.

I have a second post here looking at the cost of attending WFC vs. the cost of attending other conventions for award nominees who wouldn't otherwise go. It's not pretty.
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

[personal profile] kate_nepveu 2015-07-21 11:55 am (UTC)(link)
I said, "it can't have been that expensive when we went!" and looked. It was $150 in 2007, when it was last in Saratoga.

Con report:
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

[personal profile] kate_nepveu 2015-07-21 07:46 pm (UTC)(link)

Wow, that is some damn steep escalation.

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

[personal profile] kate_nepveu 2015-07-21 08:07 pm (UTC)(link)

Considering that the banquet is separately ticketed . . . (Sirens is $230 at the door, but includes two lunches, a breakfast, and a ball, if I'm reading their page right. )

emperorzombie: (Default)

[personal profile] emperorzombie 2015-07-21 01:18 pm (UTC)(link)
I've only been to one WFC, the 2013 one in Brighton, and I'm not sure how similar a US one will be. But I think you could have had a nice time there doing barcon, and I suspect some people were doing that, it didn't feel particularly network-y but I was with friends who were mostly not pros. The pros I did talk to seemed to be more there for the socialising and not to make contacts, just in an environment where there were more pros than at most cons. My membership cost me £75 (I bought very early) and that felt like a reasonable price for what I got out of it (mostly the dealer's room and some decent parties). $275 is really high, I've never paid $275 for any convention.
seawasp: (Poisonous&Venomous)

[personal profile] seawasp 2015-07-21 10:58 am (UTC)(link)
Well, in *my* case, I already bought my membership and it wasn't that expensive when I got it, and it's in Saratoga, so neither hotel nor transportation costs apply.

The years it's not local, those costs become prohibitive. :)

[identity profile] 2015-07-21 11:53 am (UTC)(link)
I love WFC, but I likely won't be going this year because of how expensive it it. As for publishers picking up the tab when you're nominated, I've heard of that being done for the awards banquet, but never for the convention as a whole. If there are publishers who actually pay for their authors' entire cons, I'm clearly working with the wrong publishers!

[identity profile] 2015-07-21 12:08 pm (UTC)(link)
Any networking I've done at World Fantasy cons has mostly been incidental to the socializing. I have socialized at every WFC I've been to, and I haven't notably gotten ditched for someone who could actually do something for the other person's career. On the other hand, nobody ever thinks that if they're nice enough to me, I will, so I don't have that chaff to sort through.

I never paid $275 for a membership, though, and I don't think I would. That's...quite a lot really.

[identity profile] 2015-07-21 01:39 pm (UTC)(link)
I attended WFC in DC (Crystal City) as a barcon - I live nearby, so my only costs were transportation to and from the hotel.

I did not feel as if I missed any opportunities to socialize and network; everyone I wanted to see eventually traipsed through the lobby, and there were plenty of places to sit and talk (or grab drinks-of-choice nearby). (I'm not a go-to-room-parties person, so I didn't miss those in the least.)

The only negative that I encountered was the attitude of a couple of authors, who informed me that I was "cheating" the con by not buying a membership. I shrugged and went about my life.

[identity profile] 2015-07-21 08:00 pm (UTC)(link)
Ah - to be clearer, I don't know if they check badges for the parties. I never attempted to find out!
ext_45721: Rabbit lying on a couch, reading large, antique book of Poe. (Default)

[identity profile] 2015-07-21 02:33 pm (UTC)(link)
B and I went to WFC in San Diego one year as a 3 day barcon. Only the signings really needed a badge; we went to a bunch of readings and room parties without one.

[identity profile] 2015-07-21 07:43 pm (UTC)(link)
This is all making me wish I'd driven down to enjoy it as a barcon when it was in San Antonio.

[identity profile] 2015-07-23 07:35 am (UTC)(link)
I did WFC in Brighton as a barcon a couple of years ago and it had a similar result to doing conventions as a member: I saw a lot of people I knew and had a good time. I know a lot of people in the industry and I don't particularly see the point of networking, whatever that actually means: any deals I have going are the result of things that happen outside conventions, although the latter are useful for consolidating - e.g. I had dinner with an editor at Worldcon last year, but the book deal had already been done. So I'm never sure how useful cons are from a business point of view.

[identity profile] 2015-07-25 03:03 pm (UTC)(link)
I think the "networking" is overstated. What is true is that there are a lot of agents and editors there--much more so than other SFF cons besides perhaps WorldCon and this is much smaller--and so people set up formal meetings with people they do or want to do business with (or lunches, dinners, coffees). But the rest of the time is super-informal hanging out, in my experience. I am a confirmed Hater of Networking and World Fantasy has always been one of my favorite conventions.

Oh, but yes, it does get pricey, particularly if you can't buy membership at the year before's (I think ours were just $75 or maybe $125, but significantly less). Once it gets up to $250 or whatever it is now, that's steeeep.
Edited 2015-07-25 15:06 (UTC)