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Were Authors Treated Like the Red-Headed Step-Child at Denver Comic Con?

Authors are the backbone of panels at many types of book cons, including comic cons, but author Alex Acks says that panelists were treated like barely tolerated nuisances at last month’s Denver Comic Con.

As part of programming, but not an invited “celebrity guest,” I had to go collect my badge for each day I was on programming, and that badge was only good for the day. The badge just generically says, “PROGRAMMING [day]” and no name. It’s a little annoying to not get a comped membership for the entire weekend and to have to go through the badge pickup dance every freaking day (especially when badge pickup and entry is as confused as it was), but that’s a thing I can roll with.

The bigger problem was that I wasn’t given a name card at any of the panels I was on. None of the regular panelists got name cards either. We also weren’t given an opportunity and supplies to just make them ourselves. This is, frankly, bizarre.

At every con I’ve ever been to, large or small, having a little folded name card that you can put in front of yourself so people know who the hell you are is standard practice. Some cons just put the name cards in packets that are given to the moderators, so you get a fresh one at every panel. Some cons give you one name card when you pick up your badge, and it’s your responsibility to carry it with you and not lose it. But you get a name card regardless.

Except at DCC apparently.

So what this adds up to, when I have no name on my badge and no name card, is that unless someone was in the panel audience and ready to take notes at the very beginning when I introduced myself, they had no way of knowing who the hell I was. I had multiple attendees ask me or other panelists who we were for that reason. And if one person asked the question, you know there were at least ten others wondering but unwilling speak up themselves for various reasons.

This strikes me as not an affront so much as a reminder of why you always carry backup badges, ribbons, and lanyards at conferences (the bottom of my bag often resembles a trash can).

Yes, it’s annoying, but it’s really just par for the course. Some conferences put more work into their badges, facilities, and operations than others, and sometimes accidents happen.

Even the nameless badge  is not that uncommon. In fact, my last press badge for the NY Comic Con was (to the best of my recollection) a nameless generic badge that simply said press. From what I can find online, the NY Comic Con has used similar nameless badges for years – and so does the Denver Comic Con.

Okay, the lack of name placards is a little odd; you would expect that to be printed in advance. But aside from that I don’t see how this is more than a garden variety nuisance.

How does this tale compare to your experiences at conferences?

image by AskDaveTaylor

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Tim Illingworth September 1, 2017 um 10:34 pm

Alex Acks (or Alex Wells, depending) not David, surely?

Nate Hoffelder September 1, 2017 um 10:40 pm

you’re right.

that is a weird error. I knew what the name was, and I know that I typed it right.

And yet it still came out David.

Elaine September 2, 2017 um 11:13 am

Our tiny local SF convention (run entirely by volunteer help) manages to provide badges, tent cards, program listings etc for all program participants. I think most of the program participants have comped memberships, except for volunteers, who pay for their memberships in addition to working. Of course, this is a much smaller scale activity than a comic convention, but I bet the memberships cost a lot less than the comic convention charges. (Approximately 50% less, if my math is correct after checking their website.)

Mackay Bell September 2, 2017 um 6:47 pm

I love many things about writers, but the one thing I don’t get is that there seem to be a lot of them that think that because they are an "Author" they deserve special consideration.

I’ve been invited to speak at universities about new media sometimes and it’s always a pain in the ass because I feel like I’m treated like a panhandler/drifter by the parking guards and most of the staff I encounter: "Why are you here? Who are you? Are you sure they invited you? I have no idea there is such a class. I don’t think that professor works here? You have to park in the very far away lot and walk five miles to the security office and check with them." Much as it annoys me, since i was invited and I’m always donating my time, I figure I can’t complain because, heck, I’m not really anybody famous and it would be silly to expect a red carpet. (Even if I’m doing them a favor and it’s in their long term interests to be nice to guest speakers.)

But now that I’ve published a book, I’m an "author." I’ll still get treated like sh*t, but now I get to complain about it. How dare they treat an author like that!

Nate Hoffelder September 2, 2017 um 9:22 pm

This reminds me, I could pen a detailed gripe about how Reed expo (they run Book expo America) treats the press. They are frustrating to deal with, every year.

Do you know why I haven’t written that post? Because they are only petty inconveniences, and the same is true for Acks’s complaints.

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