The weekend before Halloween, I took a trip with my sister to Niagara Falls, Ontario for “Frightmare in the Falls”, a wickedly fun horror expo. We wandered around unique vendor tables, listened to expert panels, caught a screening of a short film, took some great pictures, and attended a Q&A session with the one and only Doug Bradley! (There’s a link at the end of this post for my review of the event from a horror fan’s perspective, which includes pictures and more about Pinhead.)
While the experience is enjoyable for all horror fans, if you write within the horror genre attending these types of conventions should become a priority. These are your people. Your target audience, all in one place. This is one of the best times to do some networking.
Now, I’m not saying to lug a bunch of books and pretend to be a vendor. That’s a one-way ticket for disaster! But bring along some business cards, talk to people, and you’ll never know what might happen. For example, I met a lovely writer named Theresa Jacobs, who did officially have a vendor table. I bought one of her books (Wife ‘n’ Death, which I hope to review soon), struck up a conversation and found out she lives not too far from me. We’ve chatted a few times since the event and are making plans to help critique each other’s work. You can learn more about Theresa Jacobs on her website.
Another table at the event was held by the Ontario Chapter of the Horror Writers Association. Again, I talked to the writers, got to learn more about the benefits of the HWA, and planted a seed with my name and face into their psyche. And, of course, I bought a book from them too (Dark Rainbow: Queer Erotic Horror, edited by Andrew Robertson). Because I was interested, and I asked, a few of the writers with contributions to the book even signed my copy. Later that same day, the HWA put on an engaging panel, taking lots of questions from the audience, including a few from me.
For those introverted writers reading this, I know this sounds scary, but think of it as just talking to your peers. I’m one of you, and yes, before I got to the convention my pulse was racing and my throat was desert dry, but I took a deep breath and focused on having fun.
Just remember, when the convention is over, your networking is just beginning. Follow up on social media with the people you’ve met, read and review the books you’ve bought, write reviews about the event, and, if you really had fun, make a point to attend again the following year. Who knows, there may even come a time where you want to set up a table yourself.
Speaking of reviews, I wrote one about all my experiences within Frightmare at the Falls for my friend at FEARter.com. You can read my post (which is from a horror fan’s perspective instead of a writer’s) on his site, and I highly encourage you to follow him on Twitter as well @FearterHorror.
Here’s the direct link to my review: www.fearter.com/experience-reviews