Author as Moderator on Writers' Conference Panels

I had the great, good fortune of attending the San Francisco Writers’ Conference, not as a wannabe writer this time around, but as a published author. I’d won a scholarship award to this same conference a short time ago, and it was a game changer. I’d submitted a chapter for a historical fiction novel and won. To my astonishment, everyone I met at the conference that year assumed I could write! That gave me the confidence to go home and bust out 90,000 words over the next nine months that eventually led to a national scholarship award and finally, publication.

So when I was asked to moderate two panels at the 2017 Conference, I jumped at the chance. But first, I had some work to do to be the best moderator I could possibly be:

– I researched the panel members and studied their bios. I drafted my own bios for each, to vary from the ones the Conference offered, to pique the audience’s interest (I hoped).

– A few weeks prior to the Conference, I contacted each panelist to introduce myself and to “meet” them. This was a chance to determine their needs to ensure our panels progressed smoothly.
One panel needed little assistance; the other a little more. With the second panel, I created a list of questions and emailed them to the panelists. They fine tuned the list and used a few of the answers in their intros. We agreed to use remaining questions should there be a lull in audience participation. Good thing, because there was a lull, and I was able to jump in with questions that panelists were prepared to answer. This ensured a seamless flow and was a big relief for me.

I had the additional wonderful opportunity to be on the Mystery Writers’ panel with an excellent moderator and talented author, Penny Warner. If any of us mystery panelists forgot to mention an important fact during our intros (in my case, the title of my book – geez!), Penny jumped in and prompted us.

Being a moderator was a cinch, with a little preparation and communication. It allowed me the chance to learn from experts, to view a presentation from a different perspective and to be a mini-host at an event that was absolutely wonderful. What better place to spend time than in a community of writers and readers?

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7 years ago

Thank you for taking us along with you to this important event. I can just picture it in my mind. Sounds wonderful!

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