This past weekend, I attended the ASJA 2012 Writers Conference, which I had been freaking out about for months. I was invited to speak on a panel about sex writing and, not only did the prospect of speaking to a crowd of professional journalists and authors intimidate me, but I felt self-conscious about the fact that I was the only panelist without a book. (It didn’t feel right to count the ebook I’d co-authored the other year.)
I worried: Would attendees think I wasn’t accomplished enough to give them advice? Would they roll their eyes as I hid behind my notes and stuttered over my words? Would they riot over the fact that the organization had allowed such a poor public speaker to have access to the mic? (I have an over-active imagination… )
As per usual, I was overreacting, and I made it through the panel alive. And after that, I was able to enjoy the other panels and presentations throughout the day. I found it to be a great opportunity to see how others structured their panels. I was able to see what worked, and what didn’t. And at the end of the day, I was convinced: I should do this again.
Putting together a panel — whether at a major conference or as a smaller, standalone event — can be a great marketing tool. It can help you establish yourself as an expert. It can bring you into contact with other luminaries in your field. It can raise your visibility. It can strengthen your writing resume. It can even act as a source of income!
But putting together a successful panel? That’s something else. [Read more…]