Here at Follow the Reader, we’re always excited about events and tools that bring authors, publishers, readers, and other bookish types together to talk books. So, when a month or so ago, I stumbled across the website for Poisoned Pen’s Web Con, I was muy intrigued.
Taking place this Saturday, October 24, 2009 PPWebCon is described as the world’s first major virtual mystery and crime convention bringing authors and readers together online from all over the world. Pretty cool, eh? And, if anyone can deliver the goods on such a cool premise, it’s the folks at Poisoned Pen.
I sent a few questions to Robert Rosenwald, who kindly (and promptly) returned some answers. So, for those who want to know more about what is likely the coolest (and premiere) virtual event for mystery lovers EVER, please read on!
KM: Where’d the idea for WebCon come from?
RR: It came from several places at once:
- It’s something that had been riding around in the back of my head for a while.
- One of our authors, Mary Reed, suggested that Poisoned Pen Press authors might want to have an online conference.
- Janice Hally, the con’s web mistress, goaded us on.
- Several PPP authors jumped on the bandwagon.
KM: Who is the target audience, or attendee, for WebCon?
RR: Mystery readers and writers, and people who’d like to be mystery writers.
KM: What authors will be presenting at WebCon? What has their reaction been to the idea of a virtual conference?
RR: Too many to name. Our Guest of Honor is Dana Stabenow, International Guest of Honor is Lee Child. Laurie R. King will be interviewing Lee Child and Kate Miciak, Editorial Director of Bantam Dell at Random House Publishing Group (and another Guest of Honor). The reaction has been very positive. Many are a little bewildered and confused by what technology they need to master but people are really looking forward to it.
KM: What’s the feedback so far from prospective attendees?
RR: Very strong. Some have expressed amazement at the concept.
KM: Authors will have a chance to pitch to editors – how will this work in a virtual setting, and what editors will be present? Any agents?
RR: We’ll have four Poisoned Pen Press editors available including our senior editor, Barbara G. Peters. Each will handle five pitches. Writers will submit a synopsis and the first 30 pages of a manuscript electronically to the editor assigned to them (assignment shall be done by random draw). The editor will spend about ten minutes talking with the writer about their reactions to what was submitted and issues with the written materials they’ve looked at. This will be done one on one using Skype.
KM: How is the tech end for the event being handled? Will there be video/tech people involved in more than one location?
RR: There will be relatively little live video though there will be some. There are several YouTube videos that have been created for the Webcon and I really don’t know what all else. There will be a fair amount of live audio through BlogTalkRadio.com which basically lets one stream to the web a conference call. We’ll be doing a live video from the bookstore at 9:00 am (our time – PST) in which Libby Fisher Hellmann will be moderating a panel of authors, Betty Webb, Frederick Ramsay, and Donis Casey on Building Suspense. We have a handout that will be available for download as well.
KM: Will there be an offline component to the conference?
RR: Everything will be online. There will be components that are not real time but will have been prerecorded or previously created.
KM: Since it’s virtual, do you expect the conference to continue in a virtual setting after the conference date?
RR: We’re planning on leaving up the website at least for the next year to be available to anyone who is interested in going back through one or more of the presentations or panels. The audio and video will also be archived.
KM: I love the idea that you’re offering a $20 book voucher for the PP bookstore with registration. What are some of the other goodies that conference goers can expect?
RR: There are some short stories, there are some audio and video clips, book trailers, recipes, a variety of things in the goody bag. I really don’t know all that has been collected.
So, if you are a mystery fan, author looking to chat with publishers and other professionals in the genre, or – like me — just really intrigued at the idea of an online/virtual bookish conference, head over to the PPWebCon site and check it out. There is no limit to the number of attendees, and 100% of profits from your $25 registration fee will be donated to public libraries.