Inspired by the recent resurgence of "Cons are getting too big/Hollywood" and "Cons are no longer for the lone artists/indie guy" both online and IRL , I've noticed that one flavor of con has been left out.
The all-volunteer con.
Also known as the Fan Con, this type of con used to be the ONLY game in town for a loooong time a loooong time ago. Perhaps the largest — or at least the most well-known — is World Con*, who considers it a good day when they have 5,000 attendees.
That's right, 5K+ is a big year for a con that hosts the "People Choice" award, the Hugo, for Science Fiction. It's where Doctor Who episodes has been winning the Short Drama selection for years and you can actually shake GRRMs hand in the hallway.
It seems that a lot creators are not saying much about these cons and I'm wondering why. Is it because they are happy with these cons? Or are these cons considered too small fry to make attending them profitable? Maybe it's time for creators to reassess going to these type of cons.
As an attendee, though, I suggest checking them out. You may not see as many big names, but you'll get some elbow room and if you meet some of your smaller heroes, you might get a lot more quality time with them as compared to just an autograph.
* WorldCon may not be the best example, though, it's expensive (between $150-$250 when you sign up to attend— but if the Con has a good year, you get fully reimbursed!), and it rotates around the nation and the world every year. While that makes it harder to have a regular ground crew every year, it means that other non-profit volunteer cons can get a boost by "hosting" it.
Several big party rooms at every World Con are from competing fan conventions trying to win the vote to host.