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How To Ask A Question At Bouchercon


Friday, September 23, 2011
 
Got back a few days ago from the best convention anywhere, and I'm finally returning to normal. I'm almost over the Bouchercon flu, and after playing in the annual basketball game, my knees have almost returned to normal size (my ankle, though, is still fat and full of bruises).

Though I'm shutting the barn door here, I thought I'd review an important etiquette tip, since some people don't seem to get it. Here, then, is the Official CrimeSpot.net Guide To How To Ask A Question At Bouchercon:

1) You must ask a question you want to know the answer to. Don't ask questions just to sound cool*. Ask something you really want to know.

2) You must ask a question other people want to know the answer to. No one wants to listen to you ask probing questions about the bartender who appears on page 46 of your favorite author's latest book, even if he does "sound cute."

3) See all those people around you? You're not the one they want to listen to. So please keep your question short.

4) If you utter the words, "In my own book," or anything similar, your question is disqualified and you will be summarily ejected.

5) Finally, ask a question that lets the author talk for a bit. This is really the most important one - ask something the author can expand on. Give them room to start a conversation.

Although lots of the fun of Bouchercon takes place off stage (at the bar, etc.), the panels can really be enjoyable, especially when it turns into a real conversation, wiht the panelists all talking over each other and sparking ideas. If you have to ask a question, be sure you're helping them out.

* I was guilty of this once, at the late, lamented ConMisterio in 2005. I was listening to a panel called "How To Be Hip" in which all the authors agreed that part of being hip was low sales. So I asked, "Would you rather be hip - or sell out?"

The answer was instantaneous and unanimous.

posted by Graham Powell at 4:49 PM