Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Beer and Roaming in Albany, Day One

Beer and Bouchercon go without explanation; “roaming” has to do with what one can only how was an experiment, the first Bouchercon anyone knows of where there was no “host” hotel. Logistical issues ensued—nap times were greatly curtailed—and the food court that provided the only truly convenient means of sustenance was closed on Saturday. People were roaming around Albany for various reasons.

Some have the energy to practically live blog Bouchercons, posting at least once a day; I envy them. I admire them. Time was when I would want to be them and would try to keep up.

I was so cute then.

Here at OBAAT, we’ll go over my notes a week later and a day at the time. If you don’t like it, please feel free to ask for your subscription fees back.

(Editor’s Note: I will make note from time to time of authors who made their way onto my To Be Read list after seeing them on panels. No offense is meant to those who are not mentioned. I sincerely did not listen to an author all week who made me think, “I’m not reading any of his shit.” Some stuck out and were added; some were already on the list.)

Thursday, September 19

12:00 Tell Her About It—Promotion: how do you know if it’s too much or too little?

What struck me most was how often panelists returned to the theme of working to make the author interesting, rather than directly flogging the book. This made resonated with me, as I discovered at least half of the writers I follow based on reading blog posts and interviews. What they said—and how they said it—appealed to me, so I investigated further. Using this as my sole research, I have tried the same approach, using this blog and Facebook as my primary promotional avenues. Not taking this too literally, but it was nice to get some validation I wasn’t completely off the mark.

Joelle Charbonneau took a position contrary to the traditional “all publicity is good publicity,” telling of turning down interview requests that arose after a piece she wrote on a controversial issue appeared in The Daily Beast. She had no trouble with TDB running her article; she knew what to expect. She declined interviews, as she did not know want to expect, and had no desire to become part of the story herself. This prompted a spirited discussion about whether such requests should be accepted, regardless of any perceived risks.

Getting people to request your book at the local library can result in more sales than you might think.

Be careful when using social media. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. You must come across as genuine; people won’t buy a phony’s books. Sure, it’s fiction; they expect you to make things up. No one likes to be lied to.

3:00 Author’s Choice—Robin Spano: Using life in fiction

Robin Spano, Hilary Davidson, and a gentleman whose name I can’t read in my notes led an entertaining interactive discussion about how things that happened to them worked—or wormed—their way in stories. (If anyone reading this has the name of my mystery panelist, please add it in comments and I’ll make the correction.) Hilary told a chilling story of a co-worker who disappeared on a business trip to Mexico, and how it provided the basis of her novel Evil in All Its Disguises.

This was one of those sessions that make Bouchercon worth going to. I had heard of Hilary, of course—I don’t spend all my time under rocks—but listening to her talk about how she used this story without overtly plugging the book got me to add her to my To Be Read list. (I was lucky enough to meet Hilary for a few minutes before the panel. Yeah, she is as nice as they say, one of those people who meets you for the first time, says hello, and you have the feeling she’s been waiting all day for this.)

I turned around to hear a comment and found Jack Getze sitting directly behind me. I’ve known Jack online for years, and thoroughly enjoy his Austin Carr series. Our first conversation went something like this:

Me: Jack Getze? I’m Dana King.

Jack: Dana! Wow. You don’t look at all like I expected.

Me: You thought I’d be younger, didn’t you?

Jack: Yeah, actually.

4:00 The Siegfried Line—WWII and Sons Offspring

Peter’s panels are always worth going to, even if the topic doesn’t seem like a grabber. This panel had me from the buildup, as criminal behavior during war time is a fascinating topic on multiple levels. All the authors had interesting takes and different perspectives, from a young officer on Eisenhower’s staff at SHAEF, to American forces in Korea during the 70s to members of the Sûreté and Gestapo working together to solve murders in occupied France. I could write a page on this panel alone, but became too engrossed to take worthwhile notes. Suffice to say James Benn, John Lawton, and Martin Limon made their way onto the TBR list.

I signed my first author’s autograph when I met Michelle Isler and her husband Tommy at the evening reception. Michelle is an avid reader and supporter of crime fiction in general, and has been very kind and enthusiastic in her support of my books. It was a treat to meet both of them and hope to see them again.

In addition to Michelle ad Tommy, I had a discussion with Walter Colby, a reader attending his first Bouchercon. Walter was great company, and, in a moment of weakness, consented to be interviewed about his impressions when things settle down.

Dinner was a Breakfast Burger at Legends sports bar: a hamburger topped with bacon, cheese, and scrambled egg. (Peter Rozovsky asked if I’d ordered a side of cholesterol.) Thought I’d died and gone to heaven.

Tomorrow: Peter Rozovsky and four new friends carry me through a panel.


John McFetridge said...

Now I'm really sorry I got hung up at the border and missed Thursday.

Scott D. Parker said...

Thanks for posting the rundown for those of us not able to attend.

Robin Spano said...

Hey Dana, it was great to see you too and I'm glad you enjoyed our miniature panel. The third author was David Whellams. He's with ECW Press like John McFet & me.

Dana King said...

Really? I thought we just missed connections on Thursday. What happened? Strip search? Smuggling maple syrup?

Dana King said...


A combination of guilt and envy is what I'm going for. I hope to see you next year in Long Beach.

Dana King said...

Yep, that's him. A delightfully dry gentleman. Your mini-panel was fun and informative, and much like what I would liked to have done if I'd thought of it in time.