A Comparison of Romance Writers Conventions to Science Fiction Writers Conventions

I’m back after a crazy week and a half in New York City! I was nominated for the RWA Golden Heart® in the long contemporary category for my unpublished novel Good Girl’s Guide to Talking Dirty. A lot of people have said they’d love to read it and I’d love to sell it so that people CAN read it, but until then I’ve decided to do a little comparing of Romance to Science Fiction/Fantasy conventions.

RWA Nationals was my first official, in-person, large attendance romance convention. Before that, it was all small intimate workshops, mostly online. Since I also write Science Fiction and Fantasy, I’ve attended large conventions for that side of my writing life. And now that I’ve done a large convention from both, I can finally compare. These sorts of things interest me, so indulge me for a bit 😉

My low down below:

What Romance does best

Friendly—Romance writers have a reputation in the industry as being the most friendly, most approachable writers. This is absolutely true. The giants in the field also make an effort to make themselves available for casual interaction with other writers through free book signings for the convention attendees or after a panel.

Focus on business—The convention was packed with valuable workshops. Every one of them was a weekend’s worth of information packed into a one hour time slot. It was information dense. They also had it tracked out for Marketing, Self-publishing, Career, Craft—pick your poison or mix and match. If you felt there was nothing to offer you could attend the publisher spotlights and meet editors, or get an idea what a certain imprint was looking for.

Agent and editor appointments—At a SF convention you have to chase down an editor and agent and then awkwardly scream out your pitch to them, only to have them nod, uninterested and usually give you some line like, “Hey kid, anyone can send a synopsis to my assistant” *hands over card with old email address and/or link directly to their trash bin* At RWA’s National convention writers can sign up with agents (big and less established names in the industry) AND editors from the major imprints and small presses. Writers do not need to have an agent to pitch to editors. A lot of writers have found an editor this way and then found an agent.

What SF/F does best

More published writers—More writers who seem to know the ins and outs of a writing career. I wonder if it’s the fact that short fiction is a viable way for writers to start their career and recognition that there are so many more published writers when I visit SF/F conventions. Or if it’s that most writers who attend wait until they’re published or have credentials to their name before attending. Or maybe it’s that I notice more published writers because I run in those circles.

Networking—Where Romance writers focus on business, SF writers focus on networking. Man, can those guys network and chat until all hours of the night at a SF convention. It seemed that the majority of romance writers packed up at reasonable hours (before 5/6am) to get ready for the next day.

Awards—They also have more formal awards. Hugo, World Fantasy, Nebula. Those are just three. Romance writers just get the RITA/Golden Heart.

Overall there does seem to be a different atmosphere between the two genres. I’m not saying one is better than the other, just each has its different flavor. What works for one person might not work for another. I’ve come to enjoy both equally.

I’m sure there are more differences if I concentrated hard enough to see them. I’ve made some awesome friends on both sides and am looking forward to seeing what they both have in common as well.

I love comments! Tell me about your experiences in each genre, for every comment you leave it will help me figure out the common threads in both industries.

6 thoughts on “A Comparison of Romance Writers Conventions to Science Fiction Writers Conventions

  1. Val Lindahn

    Tina, interesting article and congratulations on your nomination for the RWA Golden Heart ~ good title too ! Let us know when it comes out… I have been to tons of SF / Fantasy cons since the late 70’s and a few Children’s book Conferences (on the Illustrators side ) but no Romances. They are all different from my experience… And great for net working and hanging out with like-minded folks, discussing Editors and AD’s. The best was meeting the writers I had illustrated or corresponded with, and finding out about their future projects.
    Yours, Val

    1. Tina Post author

      I’ve noticed that the different SF/F cons I’ve been to are different depending on which one and as always, the people make up the atmosphere. I think as I go to more of both, they’ll start to seem more similar than different after a while.

      But overall, I agree with you, the best part is meeting other people in the industry and not feeling like a weirdo writer for a few days 🙂

  2. Pamela Stewart

    But which is better!?! You have to say. lol– No you don’t. 😉 You are correct in that each has their strong points and both are valuable. Thanks for the run down. Nice bloggy post, T-girl.

  3. A.M. Lau

    Congrats on your Golden Heart nom! Sorry I missed you! (fello Codex writer here) I was at RWA too, but doing the barcon thing. I love Romance cons because you can immediately start an enthusiastic conversation by asking about the last few books they read. I feel like SF/F cons tend to be more diversified into sub-genres. Still, I’m hoping to make World Fantasy this fall!

    1. Tina Post author

      This is so true! It’s way easier to strike up a convo with any romance writer. Just like the Romance readers, the romance writers read crazy amounts of literature, so it’s a safe bet someone just read something that they want to gush about.

      Really wish we could have connected! I’ll be at WorldCon. Will you be at the Codex meet up there?


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