EasterCon – Beer and Boundaries

Take 800 writers, artists, publishers, journos, retailers and fans. Stick ‘em in a hotel with a (very) late bar and a full program of events. Mix in some costumes and some corsetry, a side order of steampunk and a sprinkling of social media – and you have EasterCon, LX2009.

Marred only by travelling to spill-over lodgings, LX provided an open forum to learn, undertake and discover; in the SF industry, it seems, all men are equal, everyone is a hero to someone, and we each have something to share.

It’s been a weekend of facing stage-fright fears, too many beers and mockery of my advancing years; a weekend of realisation… apparently events like LX catalyse personal achievement. Whodathunkit.

Friday saw me popping my panel cherry, discussing ‘The Marketing of Novels’ – to a flattering turn-out, considering the hour. Saturday was a day of networking, meeting new friends and old ones and loading up on business cards. Sunday kicked off with the Twitter panel – also very well attended despite disparaging comments and the community’s incomprehension.

Sunday night, of course, saw Rock Band – late-starting due to a technical hitch and saved by the insight of an eight-year-old (thus proving that Douglas Adams was indeed right about everything). It didn’t go quite as visualised (what does?) but Those Who Rocked had a fantastic time and the positive feedback was overwhelming. I hear Sleazy Diesel rocked so hard they’re taking their band on the road…

Excitingly, LX has seen one huge change from last year. No, not the few young fans, creeping out in the wee small hours to play Werewolf; no, not even Rock Band’s outrageous silliness.

At Orbital, there was no Social Media – a handful of Twitterers at the back of the disco. This year, due to the exponential rise of the site and the greater awareness of SocMed as platform for both marketing and socialising, we saw EasterCon have its own Twitterstream. We saw those Tweets roll live on the BSFA website. We saw live broadcasting from Peter Sullivan and LXtra. Finally, are things really changing?

They are, but not as fast as they could. Why did Phil Bradley have to fight to set up a Twitter Panel – and get no technological support? The committee threw themselves behind Rock Band – but opening a twitter discussion to (duh!) twitter would have brought on board a massive new audience. I was gutted I couldn’t do it myself – couldn’t even tweet from the discussion due to lack of mobile web. (Whatever personal achievements have come from this weekend, I’ve learned I can’t champion Social Media effectively until I can expand my technological boundaries. D’Oh!).

It still defeats me how people can revel in an event like an EasterCon, use it to network, to touch old friends and make new ones, to open their minds and learn new things… and yet not see how this parallels in the wide world of the web. Most of fandom – and many industry notables – are content to just dwell in the security of the smaller community; they rarely stray beyond the confines of LiveJournal.

I know I’m the minority – most people are content in their safe place and have no need to push boundaries, see where they can go. Why should they? In this case, they have fiction that does it for them.

Tech or no, the Twitter panel and LXtra proved that things are changing, that there is a new generation of fandom that’s broadcasting a change of era. This isn’t in a book – isn’t even scrolling up your Kindle.

It’s happening now.

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Danacea at EasterCon – Those About to Rock!

It’s no secret that I spend the bulk of my professional life either in the brig – or outside the box.

Give me a line, I can usually be trusted to stick my toe somewhere else. Occasionally it’s in my mouth – along with the rest of my foot – but I’ve pulled off enough fast ones to know how to keep hopping.

Perhaps that’s how I’ve found myself on not one but two panels at this year’s EasterCon – uncivilised times though they may be (Sober? On a Friday night?!) – I’m stepping out on ground I should stand secure upon. I blog-rant far too much about the future of marketing in the sf industry, it seems I’m now getting the chance to put my gob where my keyboard is…

Friday 22:00 – ‘The Marketing of Novels’
Sunday 11:00 – ‘Twitter: Ego Boosting, or Information Busting?’

I’m also getting the chance to flex my expertise at something new – potentially even more crazy than last year’s MonQee

With thanks to Harmonix Music, to Forbidden Planet, to Titan Books, to Gollancz, to the Black Library, to Tor, to Rebellion, and to the unrelenting support of the EasterCon LX2009 committee, Mister Devereux and myself are once again setting light to the rulebook.

This time, it’s Rock Band: Battle of the Bands – and it’s sitting like a biker chick on a Harley at the height of the Sunday night programme.

Sunday 22:00 TIME TO ROCK!

Prizes range from the awesome three-foot Millennium Falcon to the new Titan edition of ‘V for Vendetta’ – which GoH David Lloyd will sign for the winners at the closing ceremonies – to signed books, pre-publication proofs, fantastic new cover art on some cult SF classics… and some glorious 2000AD goodies for the true connoisseur.

There’s something genuinely exciting about making this work… as the feedback starts to filter in… as those all-important web-vibrations that hint at something massive coming your way…

Much has changed in the last year – both in the industry and at Forbidden Planet. It’s time to get pro-active.

This? Is going to rock!

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Dancing on the Fault Line – SF does Twitter


And so – it begins.

At his signing, Cory Doctorow said that Science Fiction had ‘anxiety about the future’ – and tried to control it. From my realisations at last year’s EasterCon – I didn’t doubt he was right.

But it seems the New Age is upon us.

Twitter has gone mainstream – we know this. My Mother is concerned about my twitter presence (‘all they do is talk about cereals!’). When I explain, she accuses me of ‘second-hand networking’ and tells me I should be out there ‘meeting people’. I’ll come back to that in a minute.

This week has seen Forbidden Planet get to grips with Twitter as both network and platform. As more of our SF-friendly Brands are bump-staring their own IDs, I have a two-year head-start and a place in the London (and sometimes UK) Twitter Elite. I’m rather bemused by this (I sell toys!) but it means that Forbidden Planet’s Twitter presence has credibility – and is suddenly a highly desirable commodity.

Coming back to ‘second-hand networking’ – for your Twitter presence to have impact, you need to be doing something. Signings and events bring energy and vivacity to Forbidden Planet’s Social Media presence, draw more followers, which in turn markets event more successfully…

…and, in turn, bring more business attention to the company.

Suddenly, Twitter isn’t about cereals any more. It’s become much more efficient, a strategy in itself. Talking to Tor Books about a forthcoming event with China Mieville, we know we need a new face on SF PR; we need to pioneer radical change in the industry. We need new energy to stand out, to break moulds. We need to broadcast, to live-stream from events – to embrace web and Social Media tools and really establish the New Age of Geek Chic.

As the BBC blocks twitter, so the SF community embraces it, at last understanding the web-revolution. This morning saw @eastercon, LX2009, establish its own twitterstream – and I’m heralding this as a landmark moment in pro-fandom.

I’ve been standing on this fault line for two years, straining to pull the sides together.

Today, we can stand tall, geeks together. The movement into the real future has begun.

Thank you to Lindsay Digital for the sunrise image. Nothing else would do.

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