Part 7: On the Campaign Trail
If you're thinking of running for GUFF - or any fan fund for that matter - it's probably a good idea to start by seeking advice from friends. If you can talk to some previous delegates better still. They'll hopefully give you an idea of what to expect and how best to proceed. It's a good idea to know what you're letting yourself in for before your name is on the ballot, and you're trying to answer questions you're not quite clear on at a convention.
Once you've decided to run the next step is to find people to nominate you. Getting this right is essential, as people looking at the ballot might not know you, but if they see a name on the ballot they know and respect, they are much more likely to vote for their nominee, as people tend to think "well if they're good enough for so-and-so, they're good enough for me". You need to think "who are the most respected people I know in fandom?" Then you need to write them a nice letter or email, along the lines of "Dear respected-fan, I would like to run for GUFF, and as you are the most respected I know in fandom, I would consider it a great honour if you considered me worthy of your nomination."
You need five nominators, three from your own side of the world, and two from your destination. It's likely the ones from the destination country will be harder to come by, since you may not know many people from there, but hopefully there will be people who can help out.
One final word about nominators - try to strike a balance between different kinds of fans to appeal to a broad cross-section of fandom. You should have a mix of male and female, serious and fun fans, media and book fans, con runners, fanzine writers and previous trip delegates. Obviously that's more than five things, so picking people who score in several areas is a bonus.
Once you have your nominators, you need to write a platform. This is a short blurb about yourself, and is important at it's likely to sway people who aren't solely convinced by your list of nominators. I think it's important to show excitement and enthusiasm for the country you're hoping to go, and fan funds, mention some things you hope to do on the trip, and if there's room left, some of the things you've done. Above all sound enthusiastic.
Once you've got all that, you need a bond (currently £15) to go with them to show you're serious. These need to go to the fund administrator, and you're officially a GUFF candidate.
You now have several months to persuade people to vote for you. It's important to get to as many local conventions (by local, I mean on the same continent) as you can, and get as many people as possible to give you their vote. It's a good idea to carry a wad of voting forms wherever you go, though voters are expected to have been active sci-fi fans for at least a year, so you can't ask your aunt (or at least most of us can't).
But do ask all your friends in fandom to cast their vote for you. This is especially easy now that they can vote online, so it should be as simple as emailing your science fiction friends. Following up with a phone call is a good idea to make sure they actually get around to it.
The most important event is the last convention before the voting closes, so it's vital to be there. There will often be a panel to promote it, which is a great opportunity to put your views and plans forward. Try to have coherent answers to the most obvious questions clear in your head.
Make sure you "work the floor" at the convention. I didn't think of it till afterwards, but a big badge on your lapel saying "Ask me about GUFF!" would really help. I did manage the next best thing - fracturing my arm a few weeks before meant my arm was in a cast, which was a good talking point, especially when I had a permanent marker to get them to sign it. I just had to bring the conversation around to asking for their vote.
While you're trying to win people's votes, you should show respect for the other candidates throughout the campaign. This was especially easy in my case since I've known Doug a long time, and running against him was a real pleasure.
I'm looking forward to future fan fund campaigns, and meeting other wonderful candidates. Maybe you'll be one of them.