by Garth Spencer (Mar. 1995)

Most of my work on conventions, from 1987 through 1993, was limited to convention publications for V-Cons. I believe this gave me an overview of convention operations as a whole, but mainly my experience was in assembling materials for progress reports and program books.

As implemented by V-Cons, the Publications department was handled separately from Publicity by different persons. V-Cons were mid- size local/regional conventions held in May, preceded by two progress reports, and both a Program Book and a pocket program were included in the member's kit. The first progress report included a financial statement on the previous V-Con.

>From V-Con 16 (1988) onward, I found that there were departments whose information varied from year to year, while other features of the progress reports and program books stayed much the same. Starting with V-Con 16, I examined previous publications and collected what seemed necessary and desirable features from different years.

PR 1 (by end of October) should include the following departments:

Progress Report #2 (by the end of February) goes only to preregistered members. Departments to report in this PR include:

The deadline for the Program Book should be set about a month before the con, to give a commercial printer sufficient time; the deadline for the pocket program can be a lot tighter, especially if this is a simple photocopy job.

The Program book should include:

Since they were first conceived, program books have become less and less planning items for the convention and more and more souvenir items, which people may not even look at until after the con. Fanart and fiction may appear in program books; witness Jon Gustafson's excellent Moscon program books, and the work he has done for ConAdian and other cons. The most sophisticated program books from Vancouver were the later V-Con books, as for instance one bearing fiction and nonfiction contributions from Bob Shaw and Spider Robinson, and the Westercon 44 book, with a four-colour cover and critical papers (at least abstracts) from SF writers and scholars.

This brings up the matter that program books now are often printed, lithographed, or produced by web offset reproduction, as opposed to being word-processed and run off on a photocopier. The committee had better consider explicitly, what level of program book production are they going to undertake? For whom, and why? What is expected? More to the point, what can the budget bear? The more sophisticated program books also raise the matter of copyright policy. The Moscon program book has been listed for several years in market newsletters as a small-press annual market - a market because it pays on the order of 1 cent/word for fiction and nonfiction, small-press because of its infrequency, low press run, and/or amateur support. A little research well in advance, on current copyright procedure, could help the committee make a policy decision that will eliminate future difficulties.

The pocket programs are another matter. These can be merely a one- sheet tabular program, where X is the time dimension and Y is a list of the meeting rooms/function spaces. The advantage of this is that you can more easily correct and update such a tabular program on computer, right up to the night before handing it to a copy centre, and make it a simple if rather massive job for them. I thought of a somewhat sophisticated pocket program design, which offers the advantage of a built-in map that can be held open to compare with the tabular program for any day, on any page; the disadvantage is that it's just a bit tricky to produce.

Take a couple of letter-size sheets, one on top of the other. Fold them both twice. Now reopen them. Cut the top sheet through the horizontal fold, and put the pieces on top of the lower half of the underlying sheet. Staple in the middle fold. The top half of the underlying sheet can be folded over the bottom, and this construction folded again, left over right.

The top half of the underlying sheet can form both the outside cover of the pocket program, and an attached map. The half-pages stapled inside can bear the various days and hours of the program, and advertising, a party schedule or other matter, if any space is left over.

This design was used a couple of times at V-Con, but then forgotten or abandoned. I showed it to members of Con-Version one year and they used it the next year. However, at Con-Version as at V-Con, little ideas like this do not seem to get passed on. So it goes.