Convention Review: Capclave 2012

For my last con of the year, it was off to Clapclave, which was in Maryland.  Not that far for me, but I was glad I stayed in the hotel.  The temperature dropped on the first day, and it was cold and windy.  I think everyone was a little scratchy.

The con itself had a studious vibe to it.  There were a lot of workshops — nothing too crazy like what would the military do during a zombie apocalypse (at a previous con).  There was one on research that was interesting and had a surprise guest, A.C. Crispin.  One on Details was a waste of time for me — they focused more on doing too much and I felt like they blew off my question about not being detail oriented.  The result was that they might as have been talking in French, and I didn’t speak the language.

The one workshop that really caught my attention was “Online Presence.”  The first thing was that the authors on the panel came across as knowledgeable.  In the other ones I’ve been to, it sounds like the lost leading the lost.  Panelists included Jamie Todd Rubin, Morgan Reyes, and John Scalazi.

For the writers here, we all know that publishers say we have to have a platform and promote ourselves via social media.  Platform is about expertise and credentials.  When I first heard about platform, non-fiction writers were blogging about it, telling fiction writers they needed a platform.  But beyond that, there wasn’t any answers.  And there still isn’t.  If I run a time management business for creative people, I have a platform because that expertise and credentials are there.  That’s going to be the reason readers will buy the book and visit me on social media.

But fiction?  What the heck do you do with that?

So one of the things that was mentioned at the workshop was that platform makes no sense for fiction writers, and that it’s been abused so much that it doesn’t mean anything.  It’s just a way for the publishers not to do their job.

Thank you! That mirrors my opinion.  I see other writers saying that platform is essential, but all those writers fit into three categories:

  1. Already published, so they have the credibility for the platform and are growing their existing base.
  2. Their platform is focused in a non-fiction area (usually for writers).
  3. They are already published in fiction, but are focusing on a non-fiction platform (usually for writers).

Other points that came out of the workshop:

  • Not everyone is suited for an online presence.
  • People are going to know when you’re going through the motions (I think this about 3/4s of the writers on Twitter who keep spamming me because I’m a writer).

But what’s a successful example?

  • Something that’s a joy to read.
  • Make it worth someone’s time.

So I’ll leave you with this question: Do you believe in platform for fiction authors?


Shannon Knight’s blog post on Making Zombies, which poses the interesting question of “Why are we drawn to monsters?”

Charlie Gilkey’s Productive Flourishing, which is a time management business for creatives.  He has a handy blog planner, which is one of the reason I’m trying out themes.

4 thoughts on “Convention Review: Capclave 2012

  1. I was in that panel, and I wholeheartedly agreed. I blog because I enjoy blogging. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t do it. One of the big things someone said in that panel (don’t remember who) that stuck with me was, “Your BOOK is your platform.” For fiction writers, that is the truest thing I think they could have said. A huge Twitter following/blog following/amount of time interacting with people doesn’t translate into huge sales. It just doesn’t. Ultimately for fiction, people will buy the book because they connect to it, and any platform usually comes after that point.

    Great post, and a great topic!

    Also, did you get to chat with Scalzi at all? He was a really cool guy, and I had a little discussion with him about blogging and stuff after that panel, because my blogging style (every day) is similar to what he’s always done. I had a blast at Capclave, though now I’m really bummed we didn’t meet!


    1. Hi, Emmie — no I didn’t get a chance to talk to Scalazi. I guess it would have helped if we had known we were there so we could watch for each other. Marscon is next on my list.


  2. There are writers whose blogs I love and follow, and there are writers whose books I love and buy.

    There is little overlap between the two groups.

    The writer-bloggers I follow because they inform, either about the craft or the business side of writing. I do glance at their fiction, but I won’t buy unless the premise and sample have hooked me.

    Many of the writers whose fiction I adore only do news updates on their blogs. If they are more chatty, I don’t follow them (I’m interested in their books, not their dogs). And I often prefer NOT to follow (on any social media) the writers whose work I love because I don’t want their personality or opinions to taint my enjoyment of their books.

    I blog because I (mostly) enjoy it. But I’m going to drop it to once or twice a week so I can focus on my fiction.


    1. Rabia, that’s an interesting point. I don’t follow any writer because I am reading their books. In fact, I’m picking up books because the story catches my eyes, not because the writer is blogging. Right now, I only look at writers’ blogs if they catch my eye somewhere, because there’s so much repetition of topics.


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