KD: With Boucherson and Malice Domestic coming up, the question arises: to con or not to con. I generally don't con. I have gone to two or three conventions, liked them, had a great time, come home and decided that they just weren't worth the money.
Kaye: I've gone to lots and I love them! At one point I was going to try to hit each one at least once. Economics have interfered and I'm back to one a year, two at the most if one of them is cheap (which means I have a place other than the hotel in which to stay).
KD: Meet people on-line and in person...nice to see the real person, but maybe not that important to me. I mean, I like people, but I have no particular desire to meet more and more people. To me, the old friends are the best friends.
Kaye: I do have lots of online friends and some of them are very dear to me. Some of them I've known, but only online, for year. I seem to like people even better after I've met them face to face. To me, there's nothing like going out for a drink with someone and chatting about family and hobbies, likes and dislikes.
KD: Get inspired. Yes, they work for that. I love the banquet I went to at Crime Bake a few years ago. The combination of Michelle Martinez and Lee Child was funny and inspiring! But lots of things inspire me, including going to a good movie or a good meeting of a local writer's group. I don't need a con for that.
Kaye: I don't think I attend to be inspired. When I first started attending cons I learned so much about how writers operate. I learned that I wasn't alone and that all writers go through many of the same things. I've gotten to the point where I'm on panels at every con I attend, and this is so good for me, I think. It stretches me, which can't be bad!
For a fan and a reader, as opposed to a writer, I'm sure the first few cons open many eyes. Readers tend to set writers, if not on a pedestal, at least apart. They think of them as different animals. And writers are a little different from other folks. But only like engineers are a little different, musicians a little different, librarians, programmers, and you could go on and on. Everyone at a mystery con loves reading and it IS inspiring to be among a group like that.
KD: Agents at a con. I guess there are pitch sessions at a conference, too, but I don't think they are much help. I believe the agents usually ask for a partial or a query, but you don't get a better reading by asking them in person. They say so themselves. I think pitching is a waste of time.
Kaye: I have been to a few cons that were set up for pitching and I agree that the hopeful writer is not going to snag an agent that way. The value of those pitch sessions for me has been that some of the agents know who I am and remember me from year to year. I concentrate on buying them drinks, not pitching them, especially when I'm not at a pitching con.
Here's the take on pitch sessions from a couple of agents, one of whom I have pitched to myself.