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
$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
$330 off the price right there. $540 looks somewhat more reasonable for a three-day convention. (
$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
$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?
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.