Monday, June 23, 2008

Landing Ink, Airtime and Blog Buzz--What We Learned at the WLOT Panel

Just enough time left in my Monday to offer some thoughts on the Writers' League of Texas Agents & Editors conference over the weekend. The event was dynamite, with agents (23 of them), editors, book doctors, publicists, 345 eager authors and several members of the media converging on the Sheraton in downtown Austin for the event.

P&P organized a panel discussion titled "Landing Ink, Airtime and Blog Buzz in Today's Changing Media Environment" and here are some action shots:

Sara Nelson and I watching Dallas Morning News Books Editor Michael Merschel show attending authors that it takes several postal bins to house the 300 review copies that arrive at his desk every week.



"I'm not kidding you--at least 300 a week!"



Austin American-Statesman religion editor Eileen Flynn, GalleyCat rockstar Ron Hogan, the panel's best voice and only broadcast rep, KUT-FM's Ian Crawford and me looking for my next question.



The panel was a great blend of national literary heavyweights and local media leaders. We an amazing 0 authors pitch their book during the Q&A session and only one author pointedly question the motives behind a nonreview from the DMN. I think we came out pretty well.

In case you missed it, here are some highlights:

What came out during the panel
SARA NELSON: It's a bad idea to start an email out with "Dear Sarah"
RON HOGAN: "To get GalleyCat's attention, there must be a back story, an extra hook."
SARA NELSON: "The publicists I like the best are the ones who tell me the truth."
RON HOGAN: "Review coverage used to be a one-sided conversation - but now pepole are conversing on their own blogs to regain readership."

Dos & Donts for publicists
RON HOGAN: Bad book trailers that use stock photography, public domain music and just recount the plot. The point of a trailer is to get me hooked on a story.
EILEEN FLYNN: Generic salutations from publicists who haven't done the research to discover the most appropriate reporter's name (i.e., Hello! or Dear editor:), look for ways to be an expert source
IAN CRAWFORD: "What am I supposed to do with a book trailer in radio?!!" and "Please don't nag" when it comes to pitching story ideas
SARA NELSON: approach on a personal level only when appropriate, likes well-written pitches (NO SELF-PUBLISHED)
MIKE MERSCHEL: Do think small because of space constraints, remember they run a weekly listing of touring authors. "Don't take it personally" when you don't get a review (NO SELF-PUBLISHED)

Other
- DMN sends leftover review copies to Texas libraries
- DMN receives 300 review copies/week (see above)
- PW receives 200/day and reviews 100 books/wk
- Shelflife of a new book release with review sections at daily newspapers is about one month.
- On negative reviews (Sara Nelson) - A bad review shouldn't be devastating. Often people don't remember what they read, only that they "read something about that book recently."

The panelists provided great perspective and I know the authors in attendance really appreciated the candid discussion.

Afterwards we headed to Stubb's for a lively discussion of Cannonball Run II over barbeque and beer. From L to R, Katie Sulkowski (literary agent at Nashville's Creative Trust), myself, Tolly Moseley, Michael Merschel, Ron Hogan & Stephanie Mayabb.


Rather than detailing the 70's cover band we saw afterward, I'll let Mike's review suffice.

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