There’s something that’s been totally fascinating me at events such as SupaNova, Armageddon (now called AMC Expo) and other events such as these which include “stars” from movies and TV series. If you’re not familiar with them let me explain a little.
AMC Expo is an amazing event whereby you have a number of stars mostly from overseas to talk, to sign photos, to have their photos taken and basically to be on show. There are also a number of shops or businesses or just individual artists or writers who will have a stall or a table to sell their works and increase their profile, I’ve been there and done similar stuff for the Victorian Discworld Klatch as they accept community organisations so long as they can pay the large fee. SupaNova is a similar event for pop culture, there are many smaller conventions throughout the year/country.
The thing that differentiates AMC Expo and SupaNova from any of the smaller conventions is the payment system. For the smaller conventions you pay through the nose but you have almost complete access to the special guests, they are very likely to be found hanging around in the bar talking to people and while there will be special sessions where you can talk to them without interruptions or special signing sessions there is no extra cost for this. For Nullus Anxietas: the First Australian Discworld Convention Terry Pratchett was to be found holding forth during unscheduled times in the games room, I have photos of this! The signing queue was quite extensive and we had to limit people to three books. It cost no more.
For both SupaNova and AMC Expo there is a much smaller entrance fee, unless you want to sit in the front row for all talks and be in the front of queues in which case it’s quite a bit more expensive, and it’s much more manageable for more people to actually be able attend, in other words attendance is in thousands rather than the low hundreds. The stars have designated times and places for photo taking and signatures and each one costs at least $30. There are generally multiple stars so if you want a photo with each of them you can find your hip pocket nerve hurting quite a lot as you’ll be losing hundreds of dollars. The same for signatures, each one can cost tens of dollars. You can even get a photo then have them sign it but you have to pay for each action.
This tells me how much my DD was going to spring for me for Mother’s Day in 2010. She would have paid for this cartoon, then she would have paid to see James Marsters to get him to sign this for me! I very carefully did not do the research to find out the price of this but needless to say it’s been put away fairly carefully while I figure how to frame it, there’s another drawing on the back.
So, onto my rant of the day. I found this article Why English writers accept being treated like dirt and wondered, yet again, why things are so different for writers. This isn’t just writers in England who are expected to turn up and not be paid for it, it’s writers here as well and probably writers in many other countries. If you go to a convention where the special guests are authors you’ll have to queue up to get your book signed but you don’t have to pay for the privilege. I understand things are slightly different as writers have a book you can buy but they’re quite happy to sign a book you’ve brought along. Sometimes they’ll sign other stuff as well, I’ve had Terry Pratchett sign a plastic banana and when my DDs went to see the Chaser team they bought a pair of pink frilly underpants and they signed those, but they did then change their policy and refuse to sign anything other than their books after that…awfully proud of my DDs for being able to do this and then make such a change! I still have those underpants somewhere.