I know this is happening ’cause we’re on the official countdown until GenreCon is a thing, and experience says I will leave the iron on at some point. I have run five previous cons in my life, and I’m currently five for five when it comes to leaving scalding hot household appliances running for long periods of time.
Twice now, it’s been for a period of four or more days. Twice now, I’ve had to go out and drop fifty bucks on an iron in the weeks after the convention.
This is a thing that happens, is what I’m saying. In the days leading up to a convention, I am…distracted. Doing things. Organising flights and hotel rooms for guests. Talking to the caterers. Putting together program briefings. Staring at the budget spreadsheet, looking at the magical number.
And, since you’ve read this far, I want to talk about the magical number.
THE REALITIES OF RUNNING A CONFERENCE IN THE NON-PROFIT SECTOR
I’ll be blunt: GenreCon is not a sure thing. It’s a cool thing – a very, very cool thing indeed – and the feedback from writers across the board seems to suggest that it’s also a very useful things, but neither of these things ensures there will be another one. This is the nature of being run by a non-profit.
The thing that ensures that there will be another GenreCon is the magic number – the point where we have enough attendees generating enough income to not only offset the cost of running the conference, but to justify GenreCon’s existence to QWC’s board of directors who are in the tricky position of being, essentially, the folks who volunteer their time and the folks who are ultimately responsible for the organisations finances in the eyes of the law.
Generally speaking, about half of these folks change every year. To keep a thing like GenreCon running, you need to be able to point out the merits of running it to a new crew of people – some of whom may not care for genre at all – every 24 to 36 months.
That’s what the Magic Number represents: the point where I can give the registration details, budget, and other elements to my boss, and she can go to the board and say look, for real, supporting this is a no-brainer. We absolutely have to do it again.
THE FAVOUR I ASK OF YOU
This year’s conference hasn’t hit the magic number. The response has been good – we can probably make a case for running the con again in 2017 and the board will get behind it – but it’s not a given. It’s not a no-brainer.
The registrations for this years conference close on October 25, so we can get the catering finalised, which means there’s just five days to hit the magic number if it’s going to happen. So, here’s my request: if you’ve been to a GenreCon, and you’ve enjoyed it, write a blog post about why you’re coming back for this year’s conference (or wishing you could come back), and direct people to the GenreCon Registration page.
Or grab a peep who really should be coming, and isn’t, and point them at the program.
Basically, tell folks who might be interested what they’re missing out on. I say this fully cognizant of the fact that we’ve been blessed with extraordinary word-of-mouth leading in to this years conference (thank you all, for that), and that the $295 price tag is a lot to drop on a last-minute purchase, but even an extra handful of registrations that we wouldn’t have gotten otherwise will make a difference.
And it needs to be other people saying, this thing, this is worth it, ’cause I’m the guy who puts it all together. My authority on this matter comes tainted by the knowledge that there is a self-interested aspect to my speaking about the con (also, by the fact that I rarely actually see anything about the program, spending most of the conference running around like a headless chicken, trying to trouble-shoot things).
You, on the other hand, the people who have gone to the conference before and laid down cash, you are dripping with the authority to recommend it as a worthwhile expenditure for up-and-coming writers. That we’ve gotten this far, three times now, is testament to how well that works.
If you’re inclined to do me a solid, I’d appreciate it. Because, on the off chance this is the year I leave an iron on and things actually catch fire, I’d like to make sure all the distraction and burn-repairs and purchasing of a replacement iron is worth it.