For several years now Fan Expo, Canada’s biggest speculative Fiction convention, has given free half tables to author guests. I want to start this posting by thanking them for this largess as for many of us the economic reality is we could not attend, let along sell our wears at the con, without it. Sadly this year they had to cancel the author tables, do to fire regulations there was no place to put us. This is unfortunate but understandable, James, who runs fan expo, found himself between a rock and a hard place and did what he had to. I can find no fault in this. James has been a good friend to the local, literary community over the years and does not deserve the treatment he is getting at the hands of some members of the community.
The one thing I do feel could have been handled better is the communication. Before James got the bad news several authors were put up as guests on the Fan Expo site, I being one of them. We were quite glad about it, as I am sure you can understand. When our names vanished from the site without explanation we were confused. The prevalent roomer was the site had crashed and they had gone back to a stable archived version and our names would be up when they fixed the new site. That was one of several roomers.
Unfortunately when there is a lack of real information roomers abound.
This situation was made worse because there have been years when the only notification an author got of inclusion in the authors ally was that they appeared on the official website.
In this and this alone do I think Fan Expo could have done better. Adding a brief notification after the remaining authors’ names on the site that “Do to fire regulations we have to regretfully announce that there will be no author ally at Fan Expo 2015 and that only those authors listed above will be guests of the con.”
I feel this would have been appropriate because there are real life consequences to attending a con like Fan Expo. People book hotel rooms, take vacation days and the like. Thus once a reasonable expectation of inclusion was established by putting names up on the site some notice would have been appropriate.
The above is offered in the form of friendly advice should a similar situation happen in the future. It is in no way an attack.
This said, I’m sure that everyone at Hobby Star, the company that does Fan Expo is horribly busy, so an oversight is not surprising when they are thrown a curve.
As it was I contacted several of the official Fan Expo e-mails explaining that I didn’t want to not show up if I was supposed to, or show up if I wasn’t. James got back to me the next day, given how close the con is I thank him for that because he must be going nuts with the work load. James’ E-mail to me is pasted next.
My apologies Stephen. We are not allowed to do the under the escalator thing this year due to safety issue with the MTCC. The problem is we have nowhere else to put an author alley, but some publishers and organizations have paid booths on the floor, so that is the cause of the confusion. So, I don’t have a free tables space for you is the short of it. Sorry.
Now I ask, what is wrong with this? He is polite, sympathetic even, up front and honest. Is it the news I wanted, of course not, is it reason to pull my hair and scream, no, not at all.
With this information I took it upon myself to warn off some of my colleagues who were in the same boat as me. Then the roar started. People began including me in posts that were critical of Fan Expo and James. All I did was spread the word so people wouldn’t show up the day of for a nasty surprise.
I know it is disappointing and some people are apparently in a different boat having received an official notice of inclusion but for me, and I think most, this is really just one of those things that happens. There is no need to vilify anybody and we should be grateful for the past kindnesses.
OK, that’s my two cents.