Please contact E. B. Davis at for information on guest blogs and interviews. Interviews for July: (7/6) Jennifer J. Chow (7/13) Meri Allen/Shari Randall (Book 1--Ice Cream Shop Mystery), (7/20) Susan Van Kirk, (7/27) Meri Allen/Shari Randall (Book 2--Ice Cream Shop Mystery).

Sunday, March 23, 2014

One Minute

Left Coast Crime sponsors a new author breakfast. It’s free for all conference attendees (a plus). It’s early (a minus). This year it provided an opportunity (?!) to hear one-minute presentations from forty-four authors with debut novels. I was one of the forty-four, as Bad Policy birthed in 2013.

Here’s how I figured the odds:
At best, one of the attending readers would remember two or possibly three authors long enough to         explore them further.
That means the odds going in were less than 5% that a particular person would remember me.
The odds of that person remembering me if I didn’t participate were zero.

Needless to say, the object of every single one of the authors was to change the odds in their favor by standing out in a positive fashion.

The award nominees or winners tended to emphasize that point and leave it at that. Their message was essentially that since lots of people liked the book; go check it out for yourself. Bad Policy did win the Evan Marshall Fiction Makeover Contest, and I included that in my presentation, but I knew I needed more.

Unbelievable to me, some authors had not practiced their spiel. They ran out of time, in one case before we even found out the name of her book.

Some people ran over their allotted minute and despite someone waving a stop sign in front of

them, plowed right on. In discussing this with authors and readers, I found no one who would buy a book from a person who rudely broke the agreed upon rules.

People who relied on describing their plot didn’t differentiate their books from anyone else’s. Someone gets killed. The protagonist has to find out why. Bad things happen. S/he gets the villain. Yawn.

Interesting locations or interesting protagonists worked better than plots.

Those few who were very clever were indeed remembered for their cleverness, but not necessarily for their book. Too clever, and the author becomes the equivalent of the Super Bowl commercial so cute every one remembers, but not what it promoted).

So, you may wonder, how did I do?

I rate it as a so-so performance. I mentioned my contest win; provided the opening incident; added the book’s connection to Boston, Irish Mafia and its split with the Provisional IRA, and then talked about Seamus and why he was an interesting character. I did not ignore the stop sign and ended on a humorous note.

I doubt anyone left the room with a burning desire to buy my book. However, I believe in the rule of three: it often takes three contacts with a new idea/thing/experience before we are willing to explore it. For some this was their first connection; for a few it was their second. And who knows, perhaps for someone it was their third.

On Sunday when this goes to press, I am moderating a panel titled, Traditional Mysteries: We Like It That Way with a great group of panelists (Susan M. Boyer, Michele Drier, Christopher Lord and Kendel Lynn). The time isn’t great (9:00) but again it is one more opportunity for someone to connect with my name.

Hope springs eternal.

~ Jim


Warren Bull said...

Good observations, Jim. At KIller Nashville there is a similar event where authors read their first two pages for agents of publishers. Several didn't follow the directions in one way or another. Those who did and showed humor had a better chance of being asked to send in their manuscripts.

Jim Jackson said...

Good observation, Warren. I am amazed at the number of people who think that when agents post what they want for submissions they are optional suggestions rather than requirements from the agent. Part of what agents want to know is whether you are someone they can work with.

I've signed up for Killer Nashville this year and am looking forward to attending.

~ Jim

Gloria Alden said...

It sounds like you're having a great time there, Jim. You made some good points because I'm one of the lucky ones to have won the Malice-Go-Round lottery. I'll need to keep what you said in mind.

KM Rockwood said...

Thanks for telling us how this went, Jim. It can be intimidating to be part of a large crowd like that, and I think your "3 times" rule is a good one. You left a good impression, and while perhaps that presentation will not result in huge sales, it's a building block in the promotion process.

Sarah Henning said...

Good luck moderating the panel today!

Shari Randall said...

Hi Jim - Hope you will tell us all about your panel - sounds like you got a great group.
I am with you. I have seen these timed author presentations and those who manage the buzzer with grace make a much better impression than those who bend the rules.
Gloria - Malice Go Round! That's going to be exciting. They only give you a minute to talk, yes?

Kara Cerise said...

Sounds like you had a great group, Jim. I look forward to reading all about the Traditional Mystery panel.

Jim Jackson said...

The panel went very well and even though our time slot was not ideal, we had a good crowd. Any one who attended certainly knows more about traditional mysteries than they did before they walked in (including me and the panelists) and had a great opportunity to get to know the four panelists.

~ Jim

Linda Rodriguez said...

Jim, I've done these and attended more, and everyone really does hate the ones who bulldoze through the time limits. Sounds to me as if you did extremely well.