After three days of excitement at Bouchercon 2014, I expected the energy level on Sunday to be lower. Attendees were surely worn out by now, and the last day was scheduled to end shortly after noon. I was happily mistaken.
I decided I could not miss any of the sessions on Day Four of Bouchercon. Deciding which to attend was difficult.
At 8:30 I went to the panel Sleuths at Every Age - Young, Old, or In-Between, They’re on the Case. The panel members each write using characters of different ages as their protagonists.
While discussing the impulsiveness of youth, Janet Dawson commented, “some of us lack impulse control at any age.” Becky Masterman knows her characters, but what they do can catch her by surprise. She describes her work as “a fifty-nine year old coming of age story.” Thomas Perry finds it easier to write about an older person, but Allen Eskens believes it is easier to write about a younger person. Allen can remember being fit, being irresponsible, being twenty-one, but when writing about older characters, “there are certain things you don’t think about.” In his series, Mike Befeler writes about the relationship between a grandparent and grandchild. He said it can be very hard to keep up with the banter of young people. I scribbled in my notebook that every author on the panel needed to go on my to-read list.
Bouchercon is a fan and writer’s conference. So far I had been caught up in the entertainment and the fan experience, but I had also come to learn more about the craft of writing and the business of publishing. For session two, I chose to attend Agents and Editors – the Book Business and the Business of Books.
Moderator Andrew Gulli, managing editor of the prestigious The Strand Magazine, kept the conversation lively. The panel of agents and editors offered their views on marketing, writing, and the changing publishing industry.
Juliet Grames from Soho Press said they publish 25 – 32 mysteries a year. Her best marketing tool is to only publish good books. The number one most important thing about a book is that it’s ready to publish. There is pressure on authors to produce a book a year, but that is not her ideal. “Take the publishing out of writing and just write – art does not have a time frame.”
Pamela Brown of Mulholland Books told us that the author is a partner in marketing. She recommended joining a reading community such as Goodreads as a reader, not just as an author. Avoid the "buy my book" syndrome.
Michaela Hamilton from Kensington said the rise of the ebook has had an impact on the money authors make, and what publishers can pay them. She looks for books that fall into the categories published by Kensington, but books should also be fresh and interesting within that category.
Lukas Ortiz from the Spencer Agency said, “Good writing speaks for itself.”
Jason Pinter from Polis Books emphasized doing things for the long run. It is worth the time and money to attend Bouchercon to get your name out there, although you may not realize a profit from the event. He pointed out the advantage of ebooks - they can be promoted year round, not just the brief time a print book is on the shelf. "You have digital real estate indefinitely."
The final event of the conference was the All Guest of Honor Panel - the Final Words. I attended this just for fun, and I was not disappointed.
I didn't take notes. Trust me, almost every word was a notable quote. I especially enjoyed Jeffery Deaver's story about stopping in a bookstore, offering to autograph his books, and being asked for an ID by the suspicious clerk.
My first Bouchercon experience ended, and it was time to go home. I hope I can attend another Bouchercon soon. Maybe Raleigh, North Carolina in 2015?
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