On ROFLCon (and my being there)

Yeah, I'm kinda apprehensive about attending ROFLCon this weekend. I mean, I know I was invited to attend and whatnot, but... I dunno.

This isn't usually the kind of thing I go to or like doing. This is a convention all about people who get (or got) attention on the internet. And while I cautiously admit that I've gotten a little here and there, I'm nowhere near a "meme" or "internet celebrity." I have my supporters who buy my books, but that's hardly the same as being internet famous.

I REALLY suck at self promotion. At all of the book signings and readings I've done (which is quite a few now), the dynamic is that I'm there telling stories, you're there either to hear them or to shop for other books, but you end up hearing what I'm saying and you tune in. I don't approach you or ask you to come pay attention to me - I simply do what I do and you choose whether or not it interests you.

When you really analyze what I have to offer and condense it down to a "blurb" for self promotion, it fails on several fronts. "Hey, I wrote this book about myself on the internet" sounds about as interesting as "Hey, let me practice an appendectomy on you" to the casual observer. What I do and how I do it works SO MUCH BETTER when discovered on the readers' own terms. You choose to show up on the website or in person; you choose to read a story or listen to it. You pay attention because you want to, and when you do, you learn that I've done this book where you got to tell ME what was interesting enough to be included in it. You get to learn that I'm just a guy living life and throwing out vignettes about it here and there, sometimes wrapped up in humor, sometimes displaying cathartic venting about stupid bands... But you get it. It's a life, written down. And you choose to pay attention to that life.

At this kind of thing, it falls flat. I don't have a space of people who have chosen to be around me, specifically - I have a group of folks all interested in promoting their own material or, at best, just meeting folks. Attempts to say "Hey, you should pay attention to me because..." don't work so well for me. I'm not really on anyone's radar at this kind of event, which instantly relegates me to the minor leagues, where people who talk about themselves in any
capacity appear to be begging for attention or help or promotion from the bigger folks.

I know I could (and probably will) choose to just be a visitor. I can just say hi to folks I meet and take it all in and treat it like a bit of a getaway. But there will be quite a few folks in attendence that I know and am friends with who will introduce me as the guy who wrote that Wal-Mart story and did a book, and I'll be forced to go into my fail-laden spiel and ultimately look like a dork. And even if they don't, I probably won't be able to resist the temptation to approach Martin Sargent and the Wired magazine guys and whatnot and at least try to say "Hey, I'm me, this is what I do," at which point I'm going to look like a dork.

And I'm not afraid to look like a dork, which is why I'll do it. But that doesn't stop me from looking like a dork. Not being afraid of something doesn't instantly seal you away from it happening... Just ask anyone who's not been afraid to get shot during a war.

Anyway... Blah blah blah. Rant, whine, cry, all of that. If you're in the Boston area or going to attend the con, feel free to email me and let me know. We'll grab a beer or something. Look for the abnormally large guy in the Yankees jersey, begging to get rolled by the locals for daring to wear such a thing up there.