Conferences and Traveling

If you want to ask me to come talk at your con, event, or show, that’s cool. I like to meet my readers. Here are things I consider when you ask me to show up and talk. This stuff only applies if you ask me to come as a speaker: if I decide to come to your event, that’s on me.

I get enough invites that I could speak at a different conference every week. Even tiny conferences meet these requirements without trouble. Don’t bother telling me your conference should be an exception: it isn’t.

Everything is political, and everything is financial. I don’t consider either more important than the other. But let’s talk money first.

For me to speak at your event, I need you to cover my expenses: notably, travel, lodging, and meals. I’m not going to fly across the country on my own dime to give your keynote. (Yes, I’ve been asked to do that.)

Put me in the bouncy back of a plane and I’ll be nauseous for three days. (I can’t do roller coasters or fast elevators either.) Me being ill at your event is counterproductive. I don’t need first class airfare, or even business class, but basic economy “condemned prisoner on way to execution” class doesn’t work. I need on the wings or in front, preferably on the aisle. Regular economy is fine, although if the carrier has one of those $100 upgrades for Less Torment Economy I’d really prefer that if I’m flying long across the country. And I need transportation between the airport, hotel, and event.

I need a quiet hotel room. Young Lucas didn’t mind sleeping on someone’s couch, but I’ve hit the age where “sleeping wrong” is a thing.

I’m fine with hotel continental breakfasts, sandwiches for lunch, and modest dinners. Mind you, it’s a shame to visit cattle country and not get a good steak, or a coast and not have seafood, so one meal like that is nice.

Want to get on my good side? Arrange a couple 20-oz bottles of cold Coke Zero per day.

For that, I’ll do one prepared talk a day and sit on as many panel discussions as you want. I can do a second standalone talk in a day, if it’s a talk I’ve given before. I also promise not to hide in my hotel room between talks.

I make my living off my writing. If I’m speaking at your event, I’d like the chance to sell a few books. I don’t sell near enough to cover a flight, but it generally covers airport parking and incidentals. I’d need a spot to stash a suitcase of books between talks.

For the political side:

Your event needs a harassment policy. It needs to be obvious. You need to enforce it. If there haven’t been complaints about your group, that’s fine. If someone’s upset with your group, well, that happens. If you had complaints, instituted a policy in response, and have improved, that’s okay–we all learn. But if your group or the organizers have a history of letting harassment slide, or if the event organizers of have a history of sexual and/or racial harassment, then I’m going to pass. I pretty much agree with Scalzi’s post on his policy.

This is not about “safe spaces” or “special snowflakes.” This is about me and my readers not being subjected to creepy jerks. (The word I want isn’t “jerks,” but I’m trying to keep this post G-rated.) I already loathe traveling. I’m not going to go somewhere that welcomes jerks, because jerks go where they are permitted.

If you don’t identify your organizers, I’m going to ask. Save everyone a round of email and post them on your web site. Be proud of what you’re doing, even if you’ve never done it before.

If I’m aware of your event and decide to show up on my own, as a guest, of course I’ll pay my own way. But I’ll check for your harassment policy. If you don’t have one, or if you have a bad history in that regard, I won’t attend. And you’ll never know.

Am I saying you have to have a harassment policy? Nope. I’m saying I will choose to not attend your event unless you have one.

And I’m not interested in debating this policy here, or anywhere online. Talk to me in meatspace about it.

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