From the Booking Desk:

Thank you for stopping by for the final post in my Countdown to Bouchercon series. Today, I want to discuss panels. Just some simple advice for moderators, panelists and audience members. If you missed any of the earlier portions of the series, be sure to pop over and check them out – Countdown to Bouchercon Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

The panels are always one of the most exciting parts of any Bouchercon. But not all panels are created equal. Here are my tips on how to make the most of the panel experience – for moderators, panelists, and audience members.

Panel Moderators –

Please remember that your role is to facilitate discussion with the panelists and help introduce them to new readers. Other than to introduce yourself at the beginning of the panel, you should not be pontificating on any topic at length. Try to make sure that all panelists get an equal amount of “screen time” during the discussion – even if you have some big name authors on the panel alongside lesser known writers. By nature, some authors are going to be quieter and shyer than others; try to help those quieter folks shine as much as you can. Please remember to allow time for audience questions. When those questions are asked, repeat them from the microphone, so that everyone can hear what the question was. At the end, remind the authors and audience that all panelists will be in the signing room immediately after the panel. Remember to thank your panel time-keeper volunteer.

Panel Panelists –

You are probably not the sole author on a panel. Please remember that and allow your other panelists to speak. Please don’t prop up a copy of your book in front of you during the entire panel – this is distracting and the audience will see it as desperation. Instead, hold up a copy of your book during your introduction so that audience members can see your cover(s). Try to target your answers to the themes of the panel as much as possible. Hopefully the questions will lead you in that direction, but what you don’t want to do is rattle off your standard book pitch when it has nothing to do with the panel and/or question at hand. Be nice to your moderator and audience – this should go without saying, but unfortunately, I have seen this go horribly wrong. Remember to report to the signing room after the panel. This is why you are here – to meet readers, to sell books, to gain fans. Don’t leave your readers disappointed by not showing up in the signing room – you might lose loyal readers that way.

Panel Audience –

Try to show up on time. If you have to enter late or leave early, please do so in the quickest and quietest manner you can. If that means not sitting in your prime seat location, so be it. Please pay attention during the panel. The attendees behind you would rather not have to listen to you typing on your Iphone and the light from the screen can be distracting. When called upon to ask a question, please keep it short and limit it to one question. Some panels are very popular and other folks have questions as well. In the off-chance that no one else raises their hand, then feel free to ask another question at that time. Please make sure your question is of interest to the entire audience – in other words, don’t use the Q&A time to get one-on-one mentoring from your favorite author – there are other more appropriate times for that. Your question should be fairly generic and should not require a three-minute description of your book’s plot or your writing habits as a preamble to the question itself. Treat everyone with respect.

From the Booking Desk:

Thank you from stopping by BOLO Books for my Countdown to Bouchercon posts.  I hope that you found them useful.  I look forward to seeing you at the Con!  Safe travels.