This picture has absolutely nothing to do with the following article. It is, in fact, a rendering of a character of mine, one Jonathan Crowley. It was done by Alan M. Clark, who, by the way, I met on a panel, so I guess along those lines it has something to do with this article, but mostly I'm posting the picture because I like it, and because Jeffe always has a really cool picture to post and I want to live up to her standards. In keeping with a separate conversation: Hey, Allison Pang: See? Not really all that handsome but for some reason he's popular with the girls....
The problem with following up behind Jeffe is that, damn it, she is often wise. Perhaps not always, but so far I’ve yet to see her be anything other than savvy.
So with that said, I will merely suggest you refer to her article regarding the fine art of moderating a panel.
I’ll cover something close but not quite the same. Here it is: Why you should attend panels. And just like Jeffe, I’ll give you five reasons.
Reason 1) If you are attending a panel as a panelist, it’s good exposure. You get to meet other writers, editors and creative folk, all of whom could well be significant contacts in your career. Okay, maybe not, but you never know. Example given, had I not run across Allison Pang at the World Fantasy Convention, I would not now be writing this article. I have made several friends and many valuable connections as a result of being on panels.
Reason 2) If you are attending a panel as a member of the audience, you might just learn something. Okay, arguably, you could do that ON the panel as well, but audience participation is a part of this equation. There is often, once you get past the sometimes inflated sense of importance from panelists (not all of them but all too often there’s at least one–and not always the panelists, I might add, sometimes the would be font of all knowledge is in the audience), a great deal of wisdom and knowledge available for your enlightenment.
Reason 3) Knowledge. A good deal of the panels at conventions, especially professional conventions, revolve around the market you are interested in and a lot of that knowledge is not anything easily quantifiable on paper. Put another way, sometimes the market information you can learn at conventions is substantially more valuable than you would find on the internet.
Reason 4) Exposure. No, not that sort where you bare your flesh in ways that are considered inappropriate. Either save that for the parties later, or, better still, keep yourself properly dressed and comport yourself like a professional. I mean a chance to get better known by people who might not know who you are or what work you’ve done. And as Jeffe pointed out previously, unless the panel is about you, and only you and your fine works, don’t feel the need to mention every book you’ve ever worked on fifteen times per discussion. But know this: the people who are attending panels are often the very same people who could potentially be reading your works. This is a chance to let them know about the person behind the books. It isn’t about you. It’s about the subject of the panel, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t a part of the equation.
Reason 5: The Fun Factor. Seriously, panels are discussions about the very subjects we, as fans and writers, find fascinating. How could this not be fun? Unless someone is monopolizing the entire thing (and again, sometimes that someone is a panelist and sometimes that someone wishes to be a panelist or to show how much more he or she knows about the subject than all of the panelists combined), the conversations will be lively and the insights, anecdotes and tidbits of wisdom will fly.
I have, as a rule, always enjoyed being on panels. Mostly for reason five, but the others are valid too, at least in my humble opinion.