They’re also a fantastic resource for emerging science fiction authors. Quite apart from the fact that you’re surrounded by your target readership, you also have access — albeit slightly limited — to some of the folks whose careers you’d dearly love to emulate. Okay, you’re not going to be bumping into Stephen King in the queue for coffee, but you’re going to have the chance to listen to successful SFF authors speak about speculative fiction and the things that matter to speculative fiction, and you’re going to get to ask them questions when they’re finished. My first SFF convention was TitanCon in Belfast — which will forever hold a special place in my heart — and I sat in on a panel in which the then-debut author Leigh Bardugo talked about her novel Shadow And Bone. Her agent was with her, a woman whose name I didn’t know at the time, but you’d best believe I know it now: Joanna Volpe, an extremely high-powered literary agent who has basically sold all the books and whose authors tend to go stratospheric. I got to ask these two women questions about their process. Where else would I get a chance like that?
And she did. And on the basis of her feedback, I reworked the novel into the version that got published.
I now offer professional editorial critique as part of my writing work, and I give the same advice: there are absolutely circumstances in which a professional edit on a full MS might be worth the investment to an emerging writer, but they are specific and unusual, and unless I see clear evidence of that in our initial discussion, I’m going to suggest you save yourself a fortune and ask your well-read friend.
I’ve got stuff I need to discuss about Star Trek, and I feel like we might be on the same page.