« The power of the dodo | Main | Some guy named Dan Brown has a new book »

August 06, 2009


Sandra Ruttan

I can't read these discussions anymore, as they drive me crazy. Yes, of course that question sounds hostel. And - without having even looked at the discussion at Sinc, so I don't know who's been participating - in the past most of the complaints about how things are run tend to come from lesser-known authors who come off as though they feel entitled.

Pay people to work at Bouchercon? And we already have authors complaining about the cost of the registration fee. You know, I find it amazing. Bouchercon runs strictly off volunteers, and manages to thrive each year. It speaks to the passion and commitment of the fans of our genre. I know it's a lot of work for those volunteers, and I appreciate it. I've sat at registration tables at B'con. I've collected the giveaway books and stored them. That's a huge job alone, never mind all the other stuff organizers do. I also know that if we put people on the clock we'd have people walking out partway through a job, grumpy people who sign on for the paycheck instead of out of genuine enthusiasm - and any of us who've attended a Bouchercon know you need passion and adrenaline to carry you through the weekend. It's a busy, crazy event.

Lesser known authors are less likely to get on ideal panels because we don't know as much about them. This is why it's great to have valuable resources you can reference about the authors, people who review extensively, who sell books, who keep their finger on the pulse of the genre. And we had that last year, and we have that this year. There will still be the odd panel that will be less than ideal, but any opportunity to be on a panel is an opportunity to learn to be comfortable on panels, to learn about a topic, and to connect with the audience. Be thankful for it, because hey, if you don't like your panel, there are probably at least eight dozen other authors at the convention who didn't get a panel assignment who'd love to have your slot.

Sandra Ruttan

And of course, that should have been hostile instead of hostel. I need caffeine. :)


Great post Jim - look forward to seeing you in Indy

I always recall the saying "No good deed ever goes unpunished"

I appreciate all the work the B'con gang do to make it a memorable time for all who attend.

I salute you all


Keith Raffel

Looking forward to Indianapolis, Jim. Thanks for the hard work.

Austin S. Camacho

Jim, I hope you realize that not all mystery writers are whiners. I'll be at Bouchercon for the experience and to get face to face with more fans than I could anywhere else. If I'm on a panel that's gravy, but you know I'll be hanging out in the sales room and chatting up people in the hall and handing cards to everyone who'll take one.

No, I save my whining for cons like Malice Domestic, which only accepts panelists who are with certain publishers. I can take the idea that someone else is more ineresting, or more popular, or even that someone else just hasn't had a turn yet (fair is fair) but I hate being shut out just because my publisher isn't on someone's acceptable list.

Anyhow, thanks in advance for a great time in Indy!!


I was the program chair for Sleuthfest last year, so I know exactly what you're going through! All convention organizers deserve our thanks for all the hard work they put into even the smallest jobs that people overlook-- like printing badges and making sure the rooms are set up and all those thousand little things that go into a successful convention.

Cindy Silberblatt

Great comments Jim. As a long-time Malice Domestic board member, past chair, and current volunteer, I can pretty much "ditto" all that Jim has said. Our all volunteer group did and still does everything possible to please authors, readers, and experts. I was Prog. Chair three four times (I think) and it was more daunting and more fun than any job I had in 20 years in the Navy. I always tried to match panels with personalities, current book topics/characters, and expertise. One key thing for me was emails with the authors and details on the registration form. But, it all boils down to what Jim said. I love doing programming and that's part of it too.
Jim, I'm so sorry I'm not able to attend B-con this year. It sounds like it will be great! Best of luck with all your endeavors.

Jim Huang

Austin's right: not all mystery writers are whiners. The vast majority are gracious and hard-working, as eager to contribute as everyone else. I will disagree a little with Sandra; it's not just the lesser-known who are complaining; we also get "difficult" messages from some established writers and publishers who should know better.

I do recognize that a pretty significant number of complaints come from ignorance rather than malice or ego. We don't all do a good enough job of communicating the basics. That's the main reason why I write stuff like this.

While I'm firmly opposed to the creation of a "good" publishers list and the use of such a list as a barrier for participation in conventions, awards, etc., I do believe that standards do apply. The Bouchercon program committee does look for some level of constructive engagement with the community as a necessary qualification. For example, I believe strongly that the terms that a publisher establishes for the sale of its titles tells you a lot about whether it intends to play well with others.

There are legitimate points on all sides about how we should look at today's publishing landscape. For both practical and philosophical reasons we are drawing some lines -- as lightly and inclusively as we possibly can, but lines nevertheless.

This is a bigger argument than we should get into here and now. It's more important that I and the folks I'm working with stay focused on the task at hand.

I'll say simply that even though I disagree with the approach that others have adopted, I certainly understand why these groups have felt it necessary to do something. The Malice Domestic board has my full support; they run a great event.

Thanks to all who are reading and commenting (here and privately). I'm grateful for your input!

-- Jim

BV Lawson

I guess it all goes back to poet John Lydgate's paraphrasing of President Lincoln's words, "You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time."

Sounds to me, however, that you're doing a mighty fine job of walking a middle ground, Jim. I didn't see one special event listed, though: a medal ceremony for the conference organizers. Maybe a flak jacket with the Boucheron Indy logo as a prize?

Joe Konrath

Which is why I warn everyone never to volunteer for anything--you simply can't win.

That said, thanks to the volunteers who bust their butts for zero respect, all out of a desire to do good.

Don't take it personally. And if you lost a 20-years friendship over anything that happens at a convention, it was never a friendship in the first place.

You could overlook me for panels, not a single book of mine could be available in the dealer room, and someone could have hung up "Boycott Konrath" posters in all the halls, and we'd still be friends.

Friends understand, sympathize, and forgive. They don't make demands, or air dirty laundry in public.

Patricia Stoltey

Jim -- there are a lot more of us who appreciate everything you do than there are grumpy writers with a chip on their shoulders. I love Magna cum Murder, and know I'll find Bouchercon 2009 a wonderful experience. Since I've served as a volunteer at conferences closer to my home in Colorado, I understand the work involved. All volunteers need hugs, not complaints.

The comments to this entry are closed.