I used to eschew Science Fiction conventions, believing them to be the havens of the stereotypical, unwashed fanboys. However, when I became a little more serious about my writing, I decided that I needed to at least check one out.
I’m not going to lie. There are fanboys, but a surprising few have hygiene issues. A much higher percentage have minor socialization issues, which can take a bit of getting used to.
However, in addition to under-socialized fanboys, you can talk to world-class authors. In the three years I’ve attended ICON, the guests of honor have been Jim C. Hines, Cory Doctorow, and Jane Yolen. In addition, I have attended panels with Glen Cook, Mickey Zucker Reichert, and Joe Haldeman. Mickey Zucker Reichart even taught a writing workshop, although we didn’t see eye to eye on humor, or sentence length, or using a conversational style, or in fact, pretty much anything at all. (Don’t get me wrong, she’s a super-smart lady, and she’s a dedicated teacher. She was just unprepared for what I spread across the page.)
In addition to getting to learn from, and bask in the presence of, famous authors, there is a nice opportunity for networking. After attending a few ICONs and DEMICONS (the Des Moines convention) I probably know a good number of the people running small presses in Iowa. “Knowing someone” is no substitute for having a good book, but it may be what makes someone take a second look at your undiscovered good book.