'd have to say one of the highlights of my Dragon Con 2011 experience was meeting Kimberly Richardson, editor of Kerlak Enterprises, a small active publishing house. It was my second trip to the vendors room. The first two times were very crowded, first time Brian and I left after a few steps due to claustrophobia and the 2nd time we toured around with John, who kept prompting me to talk to the editor at Pyr about my steampunk novel, Orchiderlium, but I was too nervous. It was only my first time at the con and I hadn't prepared anything to say, just had some cards to publicity cards to hand out about the book. So I didn't speak then, just handed one of the cards to one of the writers.
But as I looked around for myself, I saw the book Drams of Steam on a table covered in books and had to go over since I knew one of my favorite authors and a great all around guy had a story in the anthology. I'd wanted to get it for a while so I asked the woman at the table if Nick would be there since I wanted another autographed copy, like with Thomas Riley. She told me he wasn't and then we just jumped into a conversation about Nick, writing and small presses and I asked if she was a writer. She then introduced herself as the editor for Kerlak Enterprises Inc.. Wow, that was cool and instead of being nervous I just told her how I knew how much work she did because I was an editor too. We talked about how we loved reading new submissions of steampunk stories and how the quality was so high and how different they all were and went on to speak about other aspects of the field and I suddenly remembered my cards and handed one to her. She stopped and took the time to read the blurb and then commented on how beautiful the card was. Wow, that was cool. And instead of being a needy author, I just went on talking to her about books and steampunk. It was so easy. She then grabbed her business card, wrote her personal email on the back and told me that next time they opened up to steampunk submissions to send her a story. Wow! That was unexpected. And she was so nice and knowledgeable and appreciative of the authors she works with. She's an author of The Goth Librarian, so knows the business from both sides like I do. So it was great to walk way with signed copies of Dreams of Steam and The Goth Librarian as well as with an editor at a publishing house which loves steampunk like I do!
I met a number of authors, editors and attended a number of author's panels. I can see there will be a future dilemma as to whether I consider Dragon Con as a business trip and focus on networking with authors and editors or whether it's a vacation and I attend the Brit and Dark Fantasy tracks. There is only so much time in a four day weekend. Brian and I attended the Neil Gaiman panel. This was on the Brit Track since Neil wrote a script for Dr. Who which aired this past year. First off Neil was not there - it was a track about Neil. This was the only panel I felt lacking since it didn't go into as much depth as I'd hoped. Brian informed it was a fan panel which is different from an academic panel. I know a good bit more about a number of Neil's books then some of the panelists, and the panelists didn't quite know how to engage the audience, but once the audience jumped in a lot more. And after I spoke about the awesome button key marketing for Coraline where amazing boxes of memorabilia were won by people all over the world, I was surprised in a room of 200 or 300 that I was the only person to take a child to see the Movie (my granddaughter, Kendall and she loves Neil as much as I do).
I also attend the Pyr Books panel as John suggested and it was well worth it with a number of the authors and a highly invested editor/publisher who knew the complex plots of over twenty of his releases in the dark fantasy and steampunk genres. It was a fascinating talk with a number of the authors present and the editor gave out lots of sneak preview info on upcoming releases, even cover art sans titles. I was even more impressed when the editor explained how Pyr uses only original art, no Photoshop on their covers, and hires models if a figure is part of the artwork - and the artwork is gorgeous. As a small press publisher with Shadow Archer Press, I always used original art too and believe it makes for more collectible books.