Greetings Shewriters - Get out your highlighters for some sound advice!
Bella Stander is the proprietor of Book Promotion 101 and publisher of Bella Terra Publishing. For the past dozen years she’s worked with the Virginia Festival of the Book, where she gave a workshop and moderated two panels last week. She has also participated in panels, whether as moderator or speaker, at various writer's conferences. The following is based on painful personal experience.
What NOT to do at a Book Festival or Writers Conference
1. Wait to contact panelists till two days before the event—or not at all.
2. Be unfamiliar with panelists’ work: Not read author’s book (at least the first few chapters and website); not know who the literary agent represents; not know titles the editor has worked on.
3. Have no agenda for the panel, or a vague one, e.g., “I will read brief introductions, and each of you should speak for 12-15 minutes. Then we will take a few questions.”
4. Let panelists talk for so long that there’s no time for audience Q&A. (This happened with the panel in #3.)
5. Talk a lot about yourself or read from your own book. Your job is to help the panelists shine. If they look brilliant, so will you.
1. Cancel at the last minute because you just realized that the finances won’t work for you. Or cancel due to “family reasons”—but keep the plane ticket the organizers paid for.
2. Author: Leave book at home, or not have a reading figured out—and practiced!—beforehand. Agent/editor: Leave business cards at home.
3. Read for 15 minutes when you’re asked to read for 5.
4. Monopolize the conversation and/or interrupt other panelists.
5. Belittle the moderator (“If you’d read my book…"), other panelists (“I can’t believe you’d say such a stupid thing!”) or audience members (“If you’d been listening, you wouldn’t need to ask that question.”)
1. Leave your cell phone ringer on.
2. Give copies of your manuscript or self-published book to panelists.
3. Pitch your book during Q&A session.
4. Ask self-serving questions instead of general ones. (“Why didn’t you answer the query I sent you six months ago?” vs. “What should a writer do if an agent hasn’t responded to their query after six months?”)
5. Engage a panelist in lengthy conversation afterwards, when there’s a line of people waiting behind you.
Do you have another experience of "what not to do?" Reply with it!
Thank you, Bella!