Furry Writers' Guild Forum

Writing Pieces for Conbooks--Thoughts

Good afternoon, everyone!

I’m someone who believes that one of the best ways to reach an audience is through writing for souvenir convention books, things we all know are given upon registration or badge pick up. Getting published in them counts, even if they fall under non-paying markets, and a large population has the chance to read your stuff and learn about who you are as a writer.

The one thing that I find myself wondering, however, is what makes a decent read for congoers. Certainly, the pieces are forced to be short, yet conventions ask their writers to come up with a plot and sense of direction for all involved characters.

If you read conbooks, what do you enjoy in the stories that are presented? Do you enjoy pieces more quick and open-ended, or do you find yourself wanting some actual closure? Are there any pieces that stand out to you from past reads? If you don’t read conbooks, what are your thoughts on the matter?

A large population may have the chance to read your stuff, but I wonder how many congoers even bother to look at the conbook anymore (especially with smartphones and online schedules), let alone read the fiction inside. Then again, I’ve never seen any surveys on this sort of thing, so maybe plenty of people still do. shrug

Overall, since most conbooks want about 1-2K, when I’m considering conbook fiction I tend to think in terms of what makes good flash fiction. As a reader, I do want a story or at least an implied story, and not just a slice-of-life scene.

Always start, if possible, with the con theme, and really write a banging piece of flash fiction that hits those thematic numbers.

Lots of people do flip open their conbooks to peruse, but it’s a casual, quick read, which means your best bet is a grab-them-by-the-short-and-curlies piece of flash fiction that doesn’t waste a word. Good flash fiction should have two punches; a fast one at the beginning, and a big haymaker at the end.

Personally I recommend more authors shoot for conbooks. Sure, it usually doesn’t pay, but it’s a great way to put your name and website in front of a lot of eyeballs very quickly. (But really, if you’re a major con paying for artwork for the bloody conbook, PAY YOUR WRITERS TOO.) :expressionless:

If you have an excellent piece of flash fiction, then submit it to:

GoAL – http://www.goalpublications.com/
Daily Science Fiction – http://dailysciencefiction.com/submit
Flash Fiction Online – http://flashfictiononline.com/main/submission-guidelines/
ROAR 7 – http://marylowd.com/ROAR-7-Submission-Call.html
AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review – http://aescifi.ca/index.php/submissions
Fantastic Stories of the Imagination – http://www.fantasticstoriesoftheimagination.com/submission-guidelines/
F&SF – http://submissions.ccfinlay.com/fsf/
Apex – http://www.apex-magazine.com/submission-guidelines/

I could probably list more… But these all pay, offer more prestige, and have a wider readership than a conbook.

Oh, and this is where I probably found most of those markets originally: http://ralan.com/ It’s an excellent resource.

I’ve written two stories for conbooks, and one of the things I’ve learned from that is that not many people read conbook stories, or if they do, they seldom mention it. Of the ones I’ve read, some were pretty good, and some left the impression that they were used as a space filler with little editorial review.

That said, I wonder how much effort would be involved in gathering up as many conbook stories as could be found from 25 years of furry cons, and putting out an anthology of the best. Considering most conbook stories are in the 1-2K word range you’d need quite a few of them to make a decent-sized collection.