almost every convention or conference has panels. That means that a small group of people sit down and map out a chart of times and panelists to plug into them. Add variables such as Author A won't be in till Saturday, Author B won't sit in the same room as author C and author D is unkown. Then add in all the requests to do specific panels. A new member of the mystery community has a book coming out and thinks it would be great to be on a panel of lawyers who write! So how do you keep it fresh? How do you make everyone happy?
It seems easy when you start.
Big name funny author on a panel with really witty great midlist author.....
But before long, you start to notice a lot of people you are not familar with? What now?
Research on the authors, and other assorted homework.
Eventually a whole grid i done, all time slots filled. It actually looks like they might all be interesting too!
It's a print, it goes up on the website.
And then the emails start.
People have a change of plans, I'd rather be on that other panel, I changed my flight, I need saturday.
A hypothetical over view.
500+ people who want to be on panels.
400 panel positions, and that's with 6 to a panel.
Not every one can get a panel. So the only thing you can really do is try to make it as entertaining for the people who are coming as you can.
Mayhem in The Midlands will not be allowing self published authors on panels any more. Not a bad idea. It dillutes the field. And truthfully, if you are relying on that one hour spot to make a big boost in your sales, then something is wrong anyway.
A panel is to create name recognition. It's not about selling your latest book.
I hate when I see people answer a question by raising a paperback and saying "In my latest book..." It feels like a commercial, and the truth is I figure they must not have anything interesting to say about the subject the panel is about.
People in the audience only need to remeber the name of the panelist. Iy they do a good job, if they are funny, or smart, or witty or just polite or charming, people will remember the name and they will find the books.
So to the folks who bust thier back sides putting panels together, Thank you.
To authors who do a wonderful job, thank you.
To people rehearsing a commercial, No Thanks.