On Saturday at the Virginia Festival of the Book I moderated one panel and attended two, in addition to various hallway chats, meetings, and receptions.
The panel I moderated ("A Group of One's Own: Writers in Community") featured representatives from four Virginia writers' organizations: WriterHouse, Blue Ridge Writers' Club (a chapter of the Virginia Writers' Club), James River Writers, and Literary Ladies Luncheon. Thanks to the efforts of Christy Strick, Jack Trammell, Virginia Pye, and Janis Jaquith, we had what I thought was an informative and useful discussion.
After that I went to a panel that wasn't as depressing as I thought it was going to be. Entitled "What About My Book? Navigating the Industry," it featured industry blogger Ron Hogan, Chuck Adams from Algonquin, agent Deborah Grosvenor, and publicist Elizabeth Shreve, and was moderated by Bella Stander from Book Promotion 101. Hogan gave the bad news, detailing the layoffs that have happened in publishing over the last six months, but the panel as a whole concluded that the industry brought some of this on itself by giving ridiculously large advances to some projects. The upshot seems to be more caution, and more realistic advances, but not total collapse. Small houses in particular, like Algonquin, aren't going to do much that is different now. Grosvenor is still selling books to publishers. And Shreve is still publicizing them, although she observed that her clients are increasingly authors instead of publishers, and that seems to be a new trend. Don't give up, was the message.
Then we had the agents' roundtable, and this one resembled others that I've been to, although again I was encouraged by what was said. Deals are still being made. (This was particularly encouraging because my agent was on the panel!)
After a meeting with my agent, I then headed down to the Authors' Reception. I was afraid I wouldn't see anyone I knew, but I ran into friends on the way and as soon as I got there saw Peter Orner, and then bumped into a number of other acquaintances until they kicked us out at 7:30.
A full day, and the end of the Festival for me. It continues on Sunday, but I'm not able to go back again. So, I'm looking forward to next year: March 17-21, 2010.