Friday, May 10, 2013

Convention Season – Where is My Basket?

So, here we go…convention season has started. Panels are one way to do well, as an author, at a convention…since you spend a shitload of money to go, and money on swag and bookmarks and lots of sleepless nights with the up and down of will they even KNOW WHO I AM???

Yeah, basketcase season.

I imagine authors aren’t the only ones who go thru this. Any professional who ever has to give a presentation must wonder about some of these issues.

First, will they want me to give my presentation/panel? Did I write it up with enough wit and interest to stir them? Will they find room on the schedule for me? Do they know WHO I AM?

Yeah, you have to get over that barrier first. Now, if you know people, you might be able to be sneak into someone else’s panel. Be the extra body at the table, offering up quips and reflections on their 
topic. Great gig if you can get it.

(I might be on the luck side of this at PhilCon. A good friend who knows people who put the con together. He’s promised me panel spots. I get to kill him if he lets me down.)

(Hear that, Bob?)

Second, your panel was accepted! Whoohoo! Now, can you deliver? I’ve put together a panel idea for the Romance Novel Convention, in Las Vegas, in August. On what I learned about writing from almost dying. It’s sorta a pep talk panel. For those in doubt and beginners. If it’s accepted, I have to figure out something to offer them. More than just my story and lots of words. I need a handout. Of what helped me get going, websites, classes. Buttons to promote me and the topic… I have to be entertaining…how many feathers can I bring to Vegas with me for my hat?

I have a lot to deliver…this was my pitch. I sure hope Jimmy Thomas lets me know soon…

What I Learned About Writing From Nearly Dying
You can learn a lot from nearly dying. Especially about fear and how it can hold you back. But once the worst has happened, that’s when second chances appear. And third, or fourth. However many it takes. Let me inspire you, tell you my story and how I went from ten days in a hospital, to attending my first romance convention a year later, to pitching a year later, to an agent a year later and signing a book that next year. Eight books later, I’m still writing, I’m still publishing and I still believe in facing the fear and laughing in its general direction. It is possible. I’m proof. I can inspire you to see past the roadblocks and hold onto the fun of writing.

Thirdly. Will they come? Now, some of this is out of your control. I’m sorry, at a romance convention, if you are scheduled opposite Cherry Adair or Jade Lee or the Unwrap a Cover Model…you’re toast. 

One convention I was at, Shelley Adina and I had two women show up. What did we do? Well, we invited them to sit near the front, we took chairs and we talked to them. About our topic and answered questions. One person shows up? Give them all you have. They can go out and chatter to their friends at how great those authors were!

If I am accepted for this panel, I intend to promote it like crazy on FB, on twitter…everywhere I can. 

Try to get some excitement moving forward before I’m at the con. Same thing for PhilCon.

I love doing panels. I love teaching something, sharing something, or just blathering…I don’t know. If this panel isn’t accepted for the RNC, then I’m going to work on refining the pitch and proposing it for other conventions.

What are your experiences with panels? Attending? How do you decide on what you’re going to attend? Ever been to one where you’re one of two or three attendees? How did the presenters handle it? Any ideas what you’d present?

And let me take this chance to point out that yours truly has a bag o’ swag available on the Brenda Novak’s Annual Online Auction for Diabetes Research. The bidding is going well, but let’s do the pirate world proud and get this really moving full sails! How? Promote this link

Mention that the bag continues to grow…I add stuff all the time…it will be one stuffed swag bag!


Marnee Bailey said...

I've gone to a couple of panels. At NJRWA. Some were great. Some... the panelists ended up talking more among themselves or going off on a tangent. It depended on the chemistry between them.

This panel idea sounds great, though! I hope it all works out.

MsHellion said...

I've only been to one conference, and I went to classes--that was my favorite part of the conference. I usually choose things about craft...or the occasional pep talk. :) The ones I've attended were well attended. *LOL*

If I had a panel? I'd probably try to do a version of the writer's compass. Or maybe create something called "plotting for non-plotters"--which would be "You need to know where you start or have some kind of start, and have a destination in mind" and voila, start driving.

Terri Osburn said...

When I first started attending conferences, I was often disappointed by the panels I attended. So I learned to pick and choose better, then if a panel isn't working for me, I head out and find another one. There's no rule against walking out, so long as you do it quietly and discreetly.

I'm on my first author panel in August. It's about the different options in publishing these days and I'm the rep for Montlake, which is a different animal from most other publishers. In a good way! I'll be nervous, but at least I won't be the only one up there.

I'd only offer a workshop if I knew I could offer something good. Some powerful nugget of knowledge or skill that the attendees could apply at home. Which means I doubt I'll ever do a workshop. LOL!

Good on you for putting yourself and your story out there. I love that you've managed to take this traumatic event and used it for good in so many ways. And cool about the pirate swag. I have stuff available in the auction as well. Books and a crit. Though I'm not doing nearly as well as you are.

Maureen said...

Marn - Yup, been there...the panel that turns into more of a promo fest and chat...which can be fun! I swear, one of the most hysterical panels I ever went to was at a WorldCon... Harlen Ellison, Steve Barnes and one other author, putting on fancy hats to talk about fan etiquette. The right and wrong way to approach a writer. And they shared their own bumbling steps along the way.

And I've been to one at SteamCon. 10am on a Sunday. There were three of us in the audience and only two of the panelists showed. We were all getting ready to adjourn to the coffee shop for an intimate chat when a few more people stumbled in. Damn. But ended up being a nice intimate panel. (Big party the night before...)

If Jimmy picks my's just me, solo. But it's only about 45 minutes, I can fill that time...right?

Maureen said...

Hels, I think the writing compass would be a great panel to teach! Everyone is always looking for a way to stay on course. I usually go to panels that speak about what is different in a genre...or, quite honestly, I go to panels which are taught by people I admire.

Like when I was in college, I found a good instructor and took every class they taught, whether it was my particular bailiwick or not. I do that with people I know are good speakers.

Maureen said...

Terri! Yeah, I'm thrilled to see the bag o' swag doing so well. I had a brainflash last night and mentioned it to a big name pirate reviewer, who also happens to have an internet radio show. Bilgemunky specializes in pirateee music...and books. So here is hoping! Thought of another place to promo it also...

I walk out of panels all the time. And hey, I didn't know you were going to be on one in August! What convention?

I think you could easily talk about plotting methods and the colored post its. Your storyboard, the pics on pinterest. (I mentioned how you do that to a young writing friends who was mesmerized. I have no doubt she is now happily pinning away.)

Give us a few more years and I could see the whole crew, on a panel, talking about the benefits of a group blog to get the book done!

Terri Osburn said...

It's not a convention, it's a local book festival. The Hanover Book Festival on the west side of Richmond. Mechanicsburg I think. It'll be the first time I have to board the pooch over night. She's going to freak, so I'm more worried about that than the panel. LOL!

Collecting images on Pinterest works so well for me!

Maureen said...

Local book festival sounds even cooler. You'll be selling your book?

Okay, I know this sounds off, but consider taking some of the those great reviews your getting and printing them up on a three fold flyer to help people see what your book is about....and how well it's being received!

Terri Osburn said...

There is a book signing, but I haven't figured out if I'm doing that yet. Need to check the details (like if I'd have to handle the money.) It's in August so will hopefully have other reviews too.

The plan is to get a couple of stand-up displays. One with my cover and one with the blurb and probably reviews.

Maureen said...

Sounds like a plan!

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