Dispatches from Boskone 54,
Day 3

Jeff Wertheimer competes in a board game competition on Saturday as his son, Howard, takes a nap at Boskone 54 at the Westin Hotel in Boston. Photo by Sarah Silbiger/BU News Service

Érico Lotufo
BU News Service

Boskone 54 ended on Sunday. BU News Service was there to catch some highlights of the last panels. Coverage of previous days can be found here and here.

“Entering the Speculative Fiction Art World”

Getting your foot in the door is hard for writers, but it can also seem like an overwhelming task for artists. Jack Gaughan Award recipient Kirbi Fagan, legendary artist Michael Whelan, Tom Kidd and Ingrid Kallick gave tips on how one can make himself known in the art world. Brianna Wu moderated.

Social media has become the main new way of being scene, according to Fagan. She told how she got a job from an art director by exchanging comments on Instagram comments.

“It’s kind of like flirting,” she said. However, there are some traps an artist can fall in.

“Beware of spreading yourself too thin across social media accounts,” she said. “Sometimes, you end up trying to post more content than you can produce.”

Whelan, whose illustrations have been made the cover of classics such as Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation” series and recent hits like Brandon Sanderson’s “Stormlight Archive,” still thinks there is a more effective way to get noticed.

“The people who you want to impress go to conventions,” he said. “Presenting my work at conventions was how I entered the art world.”

They agree, however, on another trap that novice artists can fall into in: getting stuck working on projects they don’t like.

“I’m only showing the work I want to work on, even if I have more,” Fagan said. “So if you don’t like drawing dragons, don’t draw dragons.”

“Your (published) work is what brings you more work,” Whelan added.

“Brandon Sanderson’s Reading and Q&A session”

Boskone’s Guest of Honor Brandon Sanderson finished his participation at the convention reading excerpts from his upcoming novel, “Oathbringer.”

“My goal is to make every Stormlight Archive book have its own soul,” he told the audience. “Epic fantasy series have a bad habit of being jumbled together as they progress.”

“Oathbringer,” he said, is set up like “trilogy in itself.” To account for the size of each book (the previous book, “Words of Radiance” was around 400,000 words), he splits them into three parts and writes them as if it were three books.

Sanderson held a poll with audience to read two excerpts. First, they picked one of the interludes the author adds to his books.

“It’s a way for me to write what I want,” he said of the chapter.

Then, he read the book’s prologue, warning that it hadn’t been edited for continuity yet.

“My process is that I write the beginning of the book last,” he said. “The first chapters are the hardest to write.”

“Oathbringer” is expected for release in the Fall.

“Marketing Matters”

After being published, the next step for every young author is to market their book. The task is easier said than done.

“It’s a matter of awareness,” said Tor Books editor Moshe Feder at the “Marketing Matters” panel. “You can’t convince someone to read a book with an ad.”

He was joined by Clarkesworld editor Neil Clarke and moderator Melanie Meadors.

“The most useful use of publicity in books is to make people aware that the books they already want are out,” Feder said. According to him, ads serve mostly to established authors instead of those just starting.

“Word of mouth is still the best,” Clarke said. “You’ll get suggestions from your friends and you’ll trust the more than any review.”

“There is no magic bullet,” he continued. “Know your audience.”

Knowing is not enough, according to Meadors. An author must actively find a way to find new readers through tools like social media.

“Marketing in social media has to be more than just pushing your book,” she said. “You need to engage with audiences.”

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