I let my experience at Steel City Con ruminate for a few days. There was a lot to unpack from my author event at the Morgantown Mall to driving up to the chaos of Steel City Con in Monroeville PA. Mind you, I don’t have pictures to share. I’m just not a big picture taker. If I get some it’s a surprise to me too.
To me, the experienced was mixed, but for more extraneous reasons. I saw on the Steel City Con a comment that nailed my disquiet on the head. To paraphrase “You’ve outgrown your venue. That’s not a complaint. It’s a compliment.” That nailed it utterly. The venue is in a difficult place to access and has so little parking for an event of this size I ended up having to park over half a mile away. My wife insisted on bringing one of our folding camping chairs. Needless to say I argued against having her lugging that around, and she put her foot down.
Turns out it was a brilliant move. They had no place to sit except in the panel venue which just was packed to the gills at all times. So we had our own place to sit down from time to time. It also was an effective “walking cane” and plow and even an effective purse to some extent. Plus who needs to check a chair?
But yes, Steel City Con is so successful, they need a new venue with better access and much much more parking to make it much easier for everyone to get around both inside and out. This one thing seemed to hurt the event with many people as it dulled enthusiasm among many people on the way in.
Getting in was a little confusing as well with long long lines to see the celebs as expected, but being in a separate building brought back shades of my first Chicago Comicon in 1990 when Image comics came out and the chaos that infamous “tent” happened. (It got better but less… intimate? when they moved to the Rosemont Convention center in following years.)
Thankfully, we had pre-purchased our passes, and that allowed us to skip the line completely and get in with easy. The staff was excellent and did a great job wrangling all the nerds, geeks and dorks in their full regalia. The layout is a tangle, which made their job even more difficult and impressive they did as much and as well as they did. I have to give full credit to the staffer who had to play traffic com in the center of the facility by the food vendors and bathrooms that connected the two halves and keep people moving.
Ultimately, the trip was a success in that I went with the purpose of research on whether it’d be a good venue for me to start pushing to attend that con and others like it. There were 5 other authors there and I was able to talk to a few of them and get some outstanding information. So let me give them some thanks for their help and their opinions on going to such events, by spreading the word about them.
We met him at Big Lick Con and was a big reason why we started considering these options. That made it a great bonus to talk with him again. A font of knowledge with a great back catalogue. If you’re a fan of superheroes, dragons and weird stuff, definitely check him out. (His booth tends to have some fun extra merch if he is able to have his full selection there.)
I had a small fanboy moment when I ran across the booth of Ed Beard Jr. I knew his artwork from waaaay back when he was doing art for FASA and Shadowrun in the late 80’s and early 90’s when he started doing some early Magic: the Gathering cards. He had some of the best merch there. I really REALLY wish I could have afforded his wall tapestries! I mean they were amazing to see. Unfortunately I can’t see my art ending up that way because of the conversation we had on what it takes to produce, but something for the future if I start getting some fine art prints out. I so want to figure that out.
Brian Koscienski was a lot of fun to chat with and talk about the nature of cons for authors. Lots of good advice and a nice sized back catalog of books that may tickle your fancy. I had to bite and buy his 2 Sci Fi bounty hunter books. I like my SF comedy and it seems to tickle my fancy. You may be more into “Satan’s Petting Zoo”. The title just made me laugh and the concept might be just your cup o’ tea.
The only thing I really miss seeing was more comic book artists and writers from the industry. It’s something I missed from going to Chicagocon back in the 90’s. Then again, Steel City is more of a pop culture con. I was stunned to see the turnout for the WWE legend “The Undertaker”. That line was massive, even compared to the 4 hobbits from LOTR. So wrestling is a big thing still I guess. I sure didn’t know. Last time I paid much attention to ‘rasslin’ was I was in Jr. High and Baron Von Rashke was terrorizing opponents with… THE CLAWWWWW!!!!
In the end, going to the show revealed how much work it would be going to a bigger con not only for the expense of the booth and hotel and and and… It would also have a bigger price on my sanity. So we gotta build up to it, get some better ways to generate crafts and have an inventory to have enough for people at these events. A small craft show just doesn’t compare, and the hand crafts required would be far far greater than what we can produce. That means we will have to consider new merch that we can mass produce. All good things to get to know.
I know I missed some of the authors I spoke to (not sure if your cards got lost), so thanks for the advice and observations. It was a pleasure meeting you all.
To all those following along at home, make sure you keep watching my events page! There’s some changes coming very soon I’m happy to say. More in a separate post.
Dreams Within Dreams is now available for pre-order on Smashwords! Go and find it here! You’ll be soon able to order it through many other locations to from Barnes & Nobel to Kobo/Rakuten and more! The pocket/mass market paperback will be available for order in the near future too.
If you’re a blogger/vlogger and want to do a book review, hit me up. I’m currently setting up interviews, endorsements, reviews and am interested in discussing this with you.
Till next time, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Vaya Con Dios!