Salt Lake Comic Con Review

I’m back from my trip to Salt Lake Comic Con, and I’m here to give you all the juicy details. Well, not really. There’s nothing too juicy, but it was a very fun event. I’ve never been to a convention that big (100,000+ people), and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Now that I’ve attended, I’ve seen the main difference is the showroom floor, which was absolutely mobbed, both with vendors and with attendees. I’m not a personal huge fan of big crowds, so a few hours of that was all I could take, but it was interesting sitting up in the green room watching everyone mill around.

The paneling was much like paneling I’ve done elsewhere, however. Similar room sizes and similar crowds. (No, they didn’t hold my event in the basketball arena, even though I said that many people might show up.) What did I present on?

  • Writing for Children: Middle Grade and picture books were covered on this panel, with some solid questions from the audience. We talked about how to break into the field, and we gave some interesting anecdotes of experiences we’d had so far. (I discussed selling MEMORY THIEF twice.) It was a good panel.
  • Writing for Young Adults: This one focused a lot on the nuts and bolts of what makes YA different from other genres, as opposed to getting into how to actually write it. One idea that surprised me on the panel was that YA was under attack somehow. That the genre could be overtaken by outside forces. This is the first I’ve heard of the worry, and I have to admit to being skeptical. The justification given was that a lot of the people who read YA aren’t actually young adults, and so young adults might have their own interests trumped by adults who are YA fans. I hear this, and I fail really get worried about it, however. YA is YA because of an evolving set of expectations from the genre. If it morphs into something actual teens don’t read, then something new will come along to cater to that hole. The market will fix that. People are very good at making money. If there’s an audience, then I have complete faith that someone will find a way to shake them down for loose change.
  • Plotting a Story: This one took me by surprise. It ended up being more a caricature of plotting than anything really serious. The audience would shout out suggestions, and the panelists were expected to turn those suggestions into something like a plot. Far too goofy for me, and I worried a bit that some would walk away thinking that was actually how plotting happens. I don’t know. I just wasn’t feeling it. I tried my best to goof along with the rest, but . . . I don’t think I’ll be volunteering for another panel like that. It’s not who I am.
  • Signing: Adaptive had sent a box of ARCs for me to give away for free, and it was amusing seeing how many people were really skeptical about the “free” part. (I made a little sign to announce the fact, because so many people were just walking by without even looking at me.) I don’t blame them. That floor was jam packed with people who wanted to sell you anything and everything, and everyone had an angle. Lots of things were overpriced. So to have someone with an actual book and he was giving it away? But after I assured them that yes, it was free, and no, I wasn’t just talking about my autograph, they were overjoyed. I could easily have given away hundreds of ARCs. I was also surprised by how many people there had never had an author sign a book for them. They were confused when I’d ask if they wanted it personalized or not. Many just said “whatever,” in hopes this strange man would stop asking them strange questions. Funny.

In between all of that I had some great German food, visited with family, watched BYU beat Arizona in a last minute nail biter, and played some board games. The definition of a successful Utah trip. Best of all, the trip out and back was pretty much smooth sailing. No delays. No lost luggage. No nothing. Sure, it was a redeye flight, but I even managed to sleep on the plane! Bonus.

Now, alas, I have too much work at my job to do, so I’ll have to cut this short. Thanks to all of you who I got to see in Utah, and to the Con for inviting me out. Hopefully I can come again sometime.


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