If you are interested in bidding for a future World Horror Convention in your city, or you have won a bid and are preparing to host a WHC, visit the World Horror Society’s FAQ page for invaluable information regarding behind-the-scenes WHC prep and info.
This page will be a continuing work in progress. As common questions are floated, they will be added and answered here. Check back often!
Would you like to share your experiences at WHC? Feel you have some wisdom to impart to future attendees? BY ALL MEANS, fill us in! Email your thoughts, memories, advice and anecdotes to Chad Savage.
FAQs So Far:
- Free/Press Passes?
- Memberships vs. Registration vs. Admission?
- When/How do I get my tix?
- Attending WHC as a freelance writer
- Attending WHC as a horror fan
No. The World Horror Convention does not issue any kind of free pass. We are, however, happy to work with members of the press who are in attendance to facilitate any story or article they might happen to be writing.
All three terms are generally used interchangeably. You can register for a membership in advance of the convention, or you can pay admission at the door, but they all wind up being different ways to describe doing the same thing: Paying your way in.
WHC doesn’t mail out tickets; there will be a will-call registration desk when you arrive, and at that time you’ll be given your membership badge (which gets you into all areas of the convention), goody bag, program book and so forth.
No. Each year’s WHC is entirely funded by the money it’s able to take in during the year before the convention. Generally that money gets spent almost as quickly as it comes in – conventions cost tens of thousands of dollars to run.
You can, however, give or sell your membership to somebody else – just be sure to notify the committee for that year’s convention so they have the correct name(s) in their database!
I attended my first World Horror Convention in 1995, in Atlanta Georgia. I had been reading horror novels for approximately 15 years by that point, and had recently expanded that hobby to include collecting First Edition hardcover versions of horror novels and some original artwork by artists working in the horror field. So, when I found out that conventions like the World Horror Convention existed, that they were attended by many of the authors and artists I had been a fan of for years, AND that they were open to a nobody like me, I decided I had to attend.
That WHC in ’95 was only the second convention of ANY type that I had ever attended, and what amazed me the most was how friendly, approachable, and “normal” everyone was; INCLUDING the Guests of Honour! I was also very pleased to discover the professionalism of those in attendance. This is not a “Trekkie”-type convention for the horror crowd instead; people are not running around in costumes, speaking made up languages. A large number of the people in attendance work in some aspect of the horror publishing field – whether as authors, artists, editors, publishers, book dealers, etc. – and they are there to learn and discuss the field, make contacts, and improve their craft.
As a collector and fan, there are many aspects of this professional environment that I enjoy. The convention has an artshow in which artists working in the field display and sell their original artwork. These artshows have given me the opportunity to meet several of my favourite artists, see the original paintings that have graced the covers of some of my favourite books, and in some cases purchase original art.
Programming at the conventions include several panel discussions on a wide-variety of topics pertaining to the horror industry. There are usually anywhere from 3-7 pros on each panel, and those panels are usually interesting, funny, informative, and a great way to get a “feel” for the personality of some of your favourite authors, artists, editors, or publishers. Programming also includes readings by many of the authors in attendance. These are a great way to get some exposure to that new author you’ve heard about but for whose work you have been unsure whether or not to plunk down your hard-earned cash to buy their book, AND to hear your favourite author read a short story in-person.
Another highlight of the convention for me is always the mass autographing session, during which all the authors, artists, and editors gather together in the hotel’s ballroom for 2-3 hours. This is a great way to meet your favourite authors if you’re too shy or courteous to approach them at any other time, as well as to get them to sign any books you have brought. Most authors do not limit the number of books they will sign for you, but if there’s a lot of people behind you the courteous thing to do is just get a few of them signed (up to a half dozen is reasonable), then go to the back of the line again to allow others the opportunity. I’ve never had a situation where I haven’t been able to go through a line up for several authors at least twice if required.
The dealers room is always a book collectors dream as well……especially if there are no specialty book stores in your home town. If you’ve ever read in a dealers catalogue or online about a limited edition that sounds nice but you’re hesitant to order it simply from a written description, then the dealers room is a great opportunity to actually see the book in-person and decide whether or not to buy it. You can usually find something you’ve always wanted in the dealers room; from the brand-new specialty press hardcover you want, to a $2000 Arkham House H.P. Lovecraft collectible.
One side-benefit to the World Horror Conventions is the vacation opportunities that they present. Along with San Francisco in 2006, recent WHCs have been held in New York City, Phoenix, and Denver to name a few. The convention is a great excuse to visit a city you’ve never been to before. Tack on a few extra vacation days before or after the convention, and give yourself a much-needed holiday and go site-seeing in a city or State you’ve never been to before – or revisit a favourite one.
Last but not least, one more thing I enjoy about the conventions is the opportunity to meet other people with a similar interest in books, art, and travel. Whether at a signing, at an evening party, in the art show, or in the hospitality suite, I always meet someone new at each convention that becomes a friend I look forward to seeing again at a future convention. People I’ve met at past conventions have become some of my best friends for life.
All World Horror Conventions are different; they vary in size, number of guests and attendees, quality of artshow and dealers room, etc., but one thing that never changes is the fact that my wife and I ALWAYS have a good time.
Attending the World Horror Convention as a Freelance Writer by Michael A. Arnzen
I’ve been attending World Horror Con off and on since 1992 — and I can’t stop coming back. I attend a number of professional conventions each year, but for some reason, this is the one I enjoy the most. I’m not entirely sure why I love it so much, except for one reason: everyone in attendance seems to be in the right frame of mind. There is a balance of professionalism and good fun. We rarely wear masks or goofy costumes or any of that cheesy gobbledy-gook — but we never take ourselves so seriously that we have to dress up in business suits all the time, either. We know that our field, as twisted as it might be, is also inherently fun, and most of us are fans of the genre as much as craftsmen within it.
Fun? That might be the wrong word for a conference of professionals (and not just fans), but it’s a curious fact that most horror writers are surprisingly friendly and nice people; indeed, the sicker their work, the more affable they seem to be. I guess we purge all that ugly stuff out of our systems when we write. It keeps us honest and human. And we love what we do, so we naturally love those who do it, too.
I’m not sure, but I do know that this phenomenon is a fact because the writers I meet at WHC every year are genuinely congenial at the panels and chummy at the bar and entertaining at the parties. It may be inappropriate to call a horror author “good-natured,” but just about every writer I know sports an open mind, a wild sense of humor, and a disarming smile. There’s a strange bond that horror writers share. Writing can be such a lonely business that we need events like these to keep us in the tribe. Returning to this tribe of professionals every year really restores my faith in the spirit of the genre.
Beyond all the good times, of course, is business. A lot gets done at WHC, from the professionally-handled “pitch sessions” between editors and writers to the fascinating panel discussions by bigwigs in the field, from the writer’s workshops to the casual conversations during happy hour, from the hallway chit-chat to the interviews with guests. I leave every con armed with new projects, new leads, new contacts, and new ideas. To me, “networking” always seems like a false, dehumanizing term for some business world baloney– but at WHC, a lot of networking does get done. It just never feels artificial. It happens organically. I find that the contacts I’ve made and the information I’ve picked up at WHC each year really have not only built long-term friendships, but also a career.
It pays to “be seen” by readers, agents, editors, and others who want to put a face to the name they may have only seen in passing on a book spine or magazine cover. At WHC, you’ll often “see” me not only cavorting in the hallways, but also sitting on panels beside famous authors or filmmakers; you might catch me giving a fiction reading or make chit chat with me while sipping wine at the art show. Attending WHC gives you a real world “visibility” that you’ll never get just sitting at your computer, typing away all the time.
And you’ll not only be seen — you’ll get to see a lot of what the genre has to offer for yourself. You’ll learn which publishers are investing the most money into their authors, which book dealers are hustling the most for the genre, which writers truly care about their audience, which agents are in the market, and more. Although I know a number of writers who attend the con just for the camaraderie at the bar, there are just as many who know that attending the panels at this convention is like a going back to school and getting an advanced degree. Even after more than a decade of visits to this con, I learn something new every year.
Those of us who work in the genre really are a tribe, and WHC is quite a pow-wow. I could go on and on, but — just like they say about Vegas — to some degree, what happens at WHC stays at WHC. However, unlike Vegas, you’re not throwing your money away by attending. What you gain from WHC can’t be put into your pockets, but it certainly has value.
Hope to see you at the next one.