?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

I have just returned from a weekend at Confluence, in Pittsburgh. It's a small convention, but I really like it, and I always have a good time when I'm there. This year was a little sad, because it was the first year at which there was no Ann Cecil, but the memorial service was a strong reminder of her presence, and what it's meant to so many people.

I usually do a reading, a signing, a kaffeeklatch and a number of panels over the course of the weekend. This weekend was not an exception. One panel, however, made me return to a topic that's been at the back of my mind for a few years now. This is not a commentary on Confluence because Confluence, by and large, doesn't have this problem, and the lack is one of the reasons I do love the convention and I do continue to attend it.

Rant below the cut. I also want to point out that no one who reads this (that I know of!) is in any way being targeted by anything I've said; it is not meant to be personal, but it's possibly a tad heated.Collapse )

Comments

( 64 comments — Leave a comment )
Page 2 of 2
<<[1] [2] >>
(Anonymous)
Jul. 26th, 2011 07:58 pm (UTC)
I think this is very much about the function of the moderator--whose job it is to keep directing the topic (and the participation of the panelists) back to That Which Actually Interests The Audience and/or Addresses The Topic.

In addition to writers behaving poorly, I've also see panels where an agent or an editor, too, takes over and dominates the panel with some personal verbal journey that has nothing to do with the audience and/or the topic, or which may be self-indulgent, rude, insulting, embarrassing, or nonsense, rubbish, and self-aggrandizing manure... while the moderator sits there in compliant and enabling silence for 30 minutes, not doing a thing about it.

I've also seen panels where a moderator did nothing to manage the problem of an obnoxious audience member who kept interrupting, or who gave no one else a chance to ask questions, or who TALKED ON A CELL PHONE while in the audience, or several people talking together while in the audience--loudly enough to disturb everyone, etc.

Obviously, yes, it places too much of a burden on the moderator when panelists (or audience members) are badly behaved. But when someone badly behaved dominates the panel, the moderator hasn't moderated effectively.

OTOH, yeah, the writer who doesn't dominate the panel, but whose comments are nonetheless all, "In my book blah blah blah," is harmong no one but themselves. Do they REALLY think anyone's going to rush out and buy the book of someone so self-absorbed and tedious?
(Anonymous)
Jul. 27th, 2011 07:51 pm (UTC)
It's True!
I am a self-published author who goes to cons to promote his books. A couple of weeks ago, at Polaris (in Toronto), I was on panels on British Comedy and Science Fiction and Comedy (I am primarily a humour writer, although I have been writing a lot of comic sci fi lately). I did a little research before the con on both subjects and hope I spoke knowledgeably about them, but, except for a brief introduction where I did, I did not speak about my own work.

On the last day of the con, somebody came up to my table and bought both my books. I gave him my usual disclaimer: humour is a personal, subjective thing and I cannot guarantee that you will like my books, but people who do like them tend to like them a hell of a lot. His response (paraphrased from memory): "I was at your panel yesterday and, from what you said, I'm sure I will like them."

It's absolutely true: you don't have to push yourself on panels at cons. Being a conscientious contributor to your panels works wonders.

Ira Nayman
(Anonymous)
Jul. 27th, 2011 11:11 pm (UTC)
Re: It's True!
It's absolutely true: you don't have to push yourself on panels at cons. Being a conscientious contributor to your panels works wonders.

Yes!

It’s the best way to garner genuine curiosity about your work. I understand that people are often nervous, and they’re afraid of failing their books if they don’t push their books--but conventions aren’t that kind of space. I’m tempted to say nowhere is that kind of space.

I have seen people guilted into buying books they don’t want - but it’s a sure bet that they won’t be buying anything else from you, ever, so generating that one sale isn’t helpful.

Whereas in your case? I think it will be :)
adelheid_p
Jul. 27th, 2011 08:24 pm (UTC)
I'm really glad you enjoyed Confluence. And that, for the most part, your panels, etc. went well. I was just wondering if you meant Robert J. Sawyer when you write "Daniel J. Sawyer"? As far as I know, there wasn't a Daniel Sawyer at Confluence.

Also, as someone who enjoys attending panels, I will say that if all an author can contribute to a panel discussion is to turn the discussion toward his/her books, then that's a guarantee I won't be buying them.

You will be pleased to know that I am a fan of the "Cast" series and purchased a couple at Confluence.
(Anonymous)
Jul. 27th, 2011 09:26 pm (UTC)
"Daniel J. Sawyer"? As far as I know, there wasn't a Daniel Sawyer at Confluence.

Robert J. Sawyer is so multiple-award-winning it would be hard to be publishing the same field and not know him :). No, there was a Daniel Sawyer at Conclave some years ago who had self-published a novel. It is not the J. Daniel Sawyer who self-publishes ebooks at the moment (who might be very nice, but I’ve never met him).

You will be pleased to know that I am a fan of the "Cast" series and purchased a couple at Confluence.

Thank you :D

(Anonymous)
Jul. 27th, 2011 08:26 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
One of the Norwescon panalists ruined a panel they were on with the Butcher's with her constant "In my book" interruptions and sales pitches.
elektra
Jul. 29th, 2011 02:25 am (UTC)
It was an absolute pleasure being on panels with you this weekend, and I look forward to doing it again sometime soon. Thanks for helping show a newbie how things work.
msagara
Jul. 29th, 2011 02:33 am (UTC)
It was an absolute pleasure being on panels with you this weekend, and I look forward to doing it again sometime soon. Thanks for helping show a newbie how things work.

Definitely next year at Confluence, if you’re there :). You did a great job as moderator on the Steampunk panel -- moderating is often nerve wracking.
(no subject) - elektra - Jul. 29th, 2011 03:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Anonymous)
Jul. 29th, 2011 02:53 am (UTC)
The only time it's right to mention one's book
Was at Confluence too--on four panels--none of us mentioned our own book except when introducing ourselves. Then we went on to the topic.

John Alfred Taylor
msagara
Jul. 29th, 2011 03:03 am (UTC)
Re: The only time it's right to mention one's book
Was at Confluence too--on four panels--none of us mentioned our own book except when introducing ourselves. Then we went on to the topic.

I was on a panel at Ad Astra one year, and Robert Charles Wilson was also a panelist. During the introductions he mumbled a very short “I write SF novels” because he’s quintessentially Canadian and doesn’t like to blow his own horn.

But that was ridiculous, so I grabbed the mic (since I was up next) and redid his introduction by pointing out, among other things, that he was up for the Hugo. (He was, that year). Well, and a bit more because I really admire his writing immensely and believe it is worth more than a shy mumble.

So yes, of course, during introductions is the right place to mention your books - but even there, if there are 5 of you and you’re taking 5 minutes to extoll the virtues of your single book which you have for sale in the dealer’s room after the panel - it’s probably too much.
(Deleted comment)
(Anonymous)
Jul. 29th, 2011 11:41 pm (UTC)
I don't see what the big deal if an author mentions his/her book while on a con panel, particularly a new author. If the author is trying to make a point, he/she is going to use his/her experience to support the point. I think the inclination is to use material that you are familiar witht to do that.

I have read many author interviews when asked "What are you reading right now?" The author sometimes says that he/shenot read anything in the genre because he/she too busy with my mansucript and I don't want to be influence by something I read, but may have read something out of the genre while doing research.

Authors are most familiar with their work and it is understandable that they would use examples from their own works to make their points while on the panels.

Authors, like people, willl talk about things they are most familiar to them or what interests them. If they are writing books that interet them, then they will talk about them.

Of course, this has to be done in moderation.

I know, as a reader, when I attend conventions and sit on panels, I am interested hearing about authors talk about their books, otherwise, I would not have gone to the panel.

If I went to a panel where Michelle West or Michelle Sagara was a panelist, I would prefer that she talks about her books that is why I would listen to that panel. I don't think I would be as interested if she was talking about some author's work, unless she said if you like my books, then read this author's book.
msagara
Aug. 1st, 2011 05:55 am (UTC)
Of course, this has to be done in moderation.

The point of the post is that this is not done in moderation, and if it can't be done in moderation, it should be avoided. Twenty minutes of anyone talking about their own work - unless the panel is about them and their own work - is too much.

At a convention of reasonable size, there will be 5 people, and the panel will be 55 minutes long. Doing the math, this results in eleven minutes each. I'm not joking about the 20 minutes; it's not hyperbole. I have timed the worst of the offenders at 20, 21 and 23 minutes (I was in the audience for the last one), and in each of these cases, the audience was bored and somewhat resentful by the time the droner was asked, more or less politely, to please for the love of god stop.

Talking about your experience as a writer is not the same thing. If you are blessed enough to have never attended a panel that has been entirely hijacked by someone and their "in my book" drone, you are lucky.
la_marquise_de_
Aug. 1st, 2011 01:46 pm (UTC)
I would rather die than talk about my book. I hate talking about my writing.
Where I fail is when someone asks me about my academic speciality, though: I can fall into lecture mode too easily, which is bad.
(no subject) - Dana Stabenow - Aug. 5th, 2011 11:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
Rebecca Phillips Dahlke
Aug. 7th, 2011 04:58 pm (UTC)
good blog
saw your link on this month's SinC members e-mail. I too hate talking aout my books at conferences. I'm happiest promoting writers, writing, sharing what I've learned. That's how I ended up publishing a FREE e-newsletter featuring 12 new books by 12 authors each month. I promote NY Times best sellers as well as Indies with colorful covers and links to Amazon. I think of this as a karma thing, and seems to be working and did I say it's free? www.allmysteryenewsletter.com
folkmew
Aug. 14th, 2011 04:36 am (UTC)
You know, you're absolutely right! I realize now how many times I've gone out and bought a book by an author because I found them so entertaining and interesting on a panel. Jane Yolen, Bruce Coville, Brother Guy Consalmagno, Tanya Huff and definitely Connie Willis all spring to mind. Oh and "Into the Wild" by Sarah Beth Durst who was on a panel about Bruce Coville that I somehow lucked into moderating. She was just so... charming and intelligent and ... (cute... I didn't say that)... and.... delightful that I had to get her book. Fortunately I found the book quite fun to read as well. :-D Phew!!
jongibbs
Aug. 17th, 2011 08:52 am (UTC)
Excellent post! I'm a little late to the party - here by way of John Scalzi's link.

In addition to the deliberate 'I want to make everything about me and my work' approach, I think some folks just let their nerves get the better of them. You can see it in their eyes and hear it in their tone of voice. They make a point, but can't seem to stop talking.

Another thing I've noticed is when folks tell me they don't need/didn't read the questions in advance because they're 'An old hand at this', with rare exception, they eat up panel time with long-winded answers.

I've been moderator on a few author panel/Q&As now. I'm learning to spot the warning signs so I can jump in :)
(Anonymous)
Sep. 10th, 2011 11:40 pm (UTC)
the place and time for the time and place
how many time i do not do what i want to do but do what i dont want to do
(Anonymous)
Sep. 24th, 2011 10:38 pm (UTC)
In the past there is that but in the future there will be notihing
how many time i do not do what i want to do but do what i dont want to do
(Anonymous)
Nov. 26th, 2011 11:57 pm (UTC)
Melanie
I want to say, Bless your heart, I sorry you had a bad day; however, I would also like to ask if you forward this advice to the person who cause this rant? They really need it...
(Anonymous)
Apr. 15th, 2012 06:34 am (UTC)
steel roof
hi there its my bro`s site just say paul told to ring and to look after you
pb
Page 2 of 2
<<[1] [2] >>
( 64 comments — Leave a comment )