Why Do You Con, Bro?

by ryankl

Being on the con circuit is a difficult thing to quantify/qualify in our creative worlds.
Why do we con?
Is it the networking afforded with peers? Hoping to lead to more/better/rad gigs?
Is it the ego stroking we get from people buying our stuff?
Is it the money made from said ego stroking sales?
Is it just the chance to hang out with likeminded peeps from across the country who we never/rarely get to see in person and buy a cider?
In the end, all of these reasons are fine, but are they worth it? To con is to book a table, insurance, transport, a place to crash that isn’t a dumpster. Conning takes money, and preparation, and time away from loved ones. It requires you to endure the hours where you don’t sell anything, the exclusion when you aren’t asked to drinks, the anxiety of wondering if it’s all worth it.
But a con also can lead to landing gigs, finding collaborators, consolidating friendships, connecting with readers, turning a profit.
In the end, you have to work out why you con and if it’s working for you. If that con money could be better spent getting an artist on a short story, or printing up more books to send to shops, or feeding your kids, then maybe do that.
Personally, I con for the sales, the readers, and the mates. And I take that hit because it’s an investment in myself as a writer. I’m not turning crazy money now – though I usually make some profit – but it’s not yet about the money, it’s about the fun, I guess, and it’s certainly about the culture. Meeting readers of my work is an insane thing to do, and having people come back to buy more is seriously the best. But I make that choice now as a calculation against how far it’ll get me and where I want to be in the coming years.
In the end, it’s a big thing to consider – make a list, weigh those pros and…wait for it…cons. Ask this important question:

Have recent cons been working for you as you want them to?

Do you need to reshuffle your expectations? Or take a break and concentrate on the work? Work out what’s not working – then fix that break.
Plan. Then move forward with purpose. Your purpose, in your time.