If I could choose a panel of my favourite authors, and I got to invite them to speak at a conference that I designed, oh the fun that I could have…
I had to mull this one over, because there are a few ways I could spin this, but I think I’ve nailed it down….
My ideal book conference would be two days long, and there would be vendors and publishers everywhere at the conference centre for the two days. We’d be at some big, fancy hotel in Toronto, or even somewhere nicer (which wouldn’t be hard). During each day of the conference, there would be workshops that you could sign up for in advance, on many, many topics.
Some such topics might include: Publishing your first novel; How to create meaningful character arcs; Narrative nonfiction; How to Write an Engaging Travel Essay; Blogging; Creative Writing; The Autobiography; The Biography; Editing; Self Publishing; Networking and Making Good Contacts; What To Do When Someone Says No; Poetry… and the opportunities here are endless.
It would likely have to be marketed as a women’s conference, as you’ll find when I get to the end of this day-dreamy post that all the authors are women, and gear their writing toward women, but if men wanted to join, they’d be more than welcome.
Mixed in with the vendors, there would also be publishers kicking around who are looking for fresh talent. They’d be at booths, accepting manuscripts for review. There would be contests to enter manuscripts into, in all sorts of genres. Book lovers would be in their glory.
Scattered around the Conference Grounds would be “Reading Nooks” where you could take one of the many books you’d bought at the conference, and curl up in a big, comfy chair that enveloped your entire body, and read for an hour or two. Meals would even have a brown bag option, so that you could take it to go, and go curl up with a book while you ate.
Keynote conference panels would happen on Friday night, and on Saturday night. And the vendors and publishers’ booths, which were open Friday afternoon, all day Saturday, and until noon on Sunday, would all close down to encourage people to go listen.
My two panels would be these:
- Jen Hatmaker, Sarah Bessey, Ann Voskamp, Lysa TerKeurst, Holley Gerth would all unite to talk about being women in the church. Each woman has a unique twist and spin to their views, but they all have very valuable things to say, and an audience of Christian women who needs to be encouraged. Especially by Sarah Bessey. In fact, I might let her speak on being a woman in the church on Sunday morning, before I sent everyone back to their homes, their lives, and their families.
- Irene Hannon, Sarah Sundin, Lisa Harris, Dani Pettrey, Dee Henderson, Lynette Eason, and Sandra Orchard would each explain their path to being successful romantic suspense writers, and they’d talk about the elements necessary in a suspenseful novel that keeps you craving the end of the book, but yet hooked enough on the journey that you would never DARE look to the end of the book to find out what happens. They would talk about how to research your characters and your storylines well, particularly in the context of historical fiction like Sarah Sundin’s, so that a reader with knowledge on the time period or the topic, even on the setting, wouldn’t be able to find major holes in your story. Attendees would be able to submit questions online ahead of time, maybe via Twitter, or something a little less instantaneous like a Google Form. It would be included in the registration process — if you had a question, you could ask it, and it might be answered by one of the panel members.
Finally, and we mustn’t forget this…… the Meet and Greets! Each author from each of the two panels would have booths, and upon registration you could select your top 4 authors, and be scheduled a meet and greet with two of them at some point during the conference. To pick the brain of Ann Voskamp and find out what it really means to be living a life full of thankfulness… or of Jen Hatmaker, and talk about what it really means to live out love in your community… or of Sarah Bessey, to find out more about the journey this fellow Canadian took on the road to embracing her Biblical womanhood. In the sense that it was intended. You could chat with Dee Henderson, and find out how to weave a character’s story through several novels, without that character being the primary focus of a book. Or you could have coffee with Irene Hannon, and discover how to switch from straight up romance to romantic suspense, without leaving your readers wishing you’d just stuck to what you were really good at.
OH! And the conference would be small-ish, because in order to guarantee the meet and greet schedule it would have to be. It would probably be outlandishly expensive, and not profitable for all those vendors and publishers, but hey…. a girl can dream, right?
I was approached to write this post by a contact from Eventbrite, “the largest self-service ticketing platform in the world that helps people find and plan events and conferences.” (Her description). I was asked who my favourite author was. If I could choose a few to put on a panel and have them talk to a crowd, who would I choose? What would we talk about?
I was given free rein over the post, and all ideas are my own.