Yuricon News: The Anatomy of an Anime Convention 101, Part 2

November 5th, 2002

So, now that I had decided that ALC would be “real” in the sense that it would become an actual event where people would meet face to face, I needed three things: 1) dates; 2) a hotel and; 3) staff. I put a general call out to the mailing list, recruited a few folks I knew personally and hit the boards running.

I started with the Hotel part of the equation. If I couldn’t get that, then there was no point in going further, really. I did a little market research and realized that basically, either people will come or they won’t, so I picked hotels close to where I wanted to be. After some preliminary investigation, I chose the hotel that Shoujocon had used in its first year. There are a variety of good reasons why this hotel is a good choice – primarily, location. They were amenable and we took out first step forward.

Now we had 1 and 2 – dates and place, but we needed staff.

Let me tell you right now that *staff* is the biggest issue you will run into if you want to run an event. My motto is “Everyone wants to help, but no one wants to do work.” That’s the basic truth. Everyone thinks it will be “fun” to run an event, get a title, a free t-shirt and their name in the credits. What most people don’t realize is that between here and there, there’s a ton of stupid things to do that have to get done – and done right – or the con sucks.

I am very lucky. My staff is primarily made up of really nutty people who, like myself, are pretty tired of cons and aren’t planning on having any fun during this one – this frees us up from the illusion that Yuricon will be “fun” for us -and means we can focus on the work. That doesn’t mean we don’t all flake out, or have disappearing spells or nervous breakdowns along the way, but it does mean that we take less time to cull our staff of people who don’t hold up under the pressure. Being Staff is not like being a Volunteer, being Staff is taking on a job that will actually require follow-up and organizational skills. Here’s a few thoughts for those of you who think you want to be on Staff:

Staff Rule #1

Don’t mind rejection.

Seriously. Most people are *terrified* of being rejected, and fans in any fandom are moreso, because they start off a little fettered, socially.

But it’s okay, really. So, you send an email to a person you’ve never heard of asking for something. They don’t answer you. You mail again. They don’t answer. You stop emailing them. Or, they say no, you thank them, express your desire to work with them one day and move on. *Don’t* take it all personally! Just send the damn emails. ^_^

Rule #2

Don’t disappear. If you get overwhelmed, by life, or exams, or a personal thing…don’t just not answer emails. Take 5 seconds, tap out a “sorry, I can’t do this” when you *first* realize that you can’t do this. Don’t wait until you’ve annoyed your Committee Chair, pissed the rest of the folks who are doing the work off, and had everyone lose faith in you. There’s no reason to act that way. A polite note, not a three page long rant with personal details, gets the point across just fine and saves your dignity.

Which brings us to the Corollary to Rule #2 – Sign up for your staff mailing list with an email you actually check. When you use an email that you never check, it means that you are essentially ignoring this list. This can cause pointless confusion. Don’t like how much mail you’re getting? Well, that’s the price of offering to help. Even if it seems like a little chitchatty and no work, it’s important that you can be reached when other Staff need you. Or you might as well not have signed up.

Rule #3

Ask questions!!

When you first volunteer to do something, there is an excellent chance that you have no idea what you’re doing. There is also a good chance that your Committee Chair and possibly the entire Organizing Comittee also has no idea. So, if someone says, “email ADV and ask for permission to show therse three titles,” and you don’t know what that means, or how to go about it…ask. Please don’t put off doing it, then hide and not answer emails. Someone, somewhere, was relying on you to do your bit. Just ask what they mean, or how to find the emails to mail or what to do. Maybe all of you don’t know what’s going on and the committee chair has to clarify – or learn. Just ask and find out.

***

Anyway, back to ALC. We started to pull together a basic staff and a few committee chairs and then it was time to admit that if this was going to be real, we were going to have to act like it was. :-) My original intent was to use the name Yuricon for the convention, and use ALC as the organization behind it. One weekend our mailing list crashed and I recreated it with the new name. And so we headed into 2002 as Yuricon, a celebration of shoujoai and yuri in anime and manga.

Next time: On the road

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