GB WilliamsGail Williams, brave soul, writes about her brilliant sterling service on behalf of Crime Cymru.

Marketing is probably the hardest part of writing a book, it certainly is for me. But that’s part of why Crime Cymru was set up, to help support Welsh crime writers/writing and to help us all support each other.

This year I did my bit by managing to get Crime Cymru panels on the itinerary for both Newcastle Noir and CrimeFest. This was a big step for me, I’ve never done anything like that before and these are Festivals that draw in good names and discerning readers.

Okay, I confess, I have done one thing like this before, I organised Dr Noir’s Travelling Crime Show through South Wales last year, and for the first one, Dr Noir was late and I had to step in. It was off the cuff, totally unresearched not to mention unrehearsed, and it wasn’t my finest hour, but I kept the panel talking and the audience seemed to enjoy overall.

So this time around, I decided I would do what I could to get it right. I actually prepared. I did a bit of background checking on the authors, I read their books and I thought about what to ask. After that, I sent out those bios and questions to the panellists to make sure that (a) I got my facts straight and (b) they were comfortable with everything. I also got the Crime Cymru banner and bookmarks to help with promotion.

Crime Cyrmu
Gail Williams, Matt Johnson, Thorne Moore and Phil Rowlands at Newcastle Noir.

Newcastle Noir was a fab relaxed, in-your-living-room kind of affair. This panel was Matt Johnson, Thorne Moore and Phil Rowlands. I don’t know about them, but I was nervous as all get out getting up there. And they were great, all of them properly participating and helping the flow. Moving into the question and answer session was interesting – since I was the one with the roving mike. Thankfully, I managed not to fall over my own feet to get to audience members with questions and trust me that was not assured.

Even better, after the panel, they gave me some great feedback on what worked and what didn’t, which I used to update the way I ran the second panel at CrimeFest.

Crime Cymru
Rosie Claverton, John Lincoln, Cathy Ace, Alis Hawkins and Gail Williams at CrimeFest.

At CrimeFest I was working with Cathy Ace, Rosie Claverton, Alis Hawkins and John Lincoln, all of whom have far more panel experience than I do. I was even more nervous getting up there and addressing a CrimeFest audience – these are discerning readers and authors, what was I doing up there? Would they realise I’m a fraud? Well, according to Alis who slipped me a note part way through the panel, I was doing a “fabulous job.” I can’t tell you how much that made me feel better about what I was doing – thank you Ali!

The panel were engaging and the audience engaged. I had a few people tell me after that they thoroughly enjoyed the event. So I guess I did alright.

Crime Cymru
After the panel, Rosie, Alis, Gail, Cathy and John Lincoln.

Well the point really, is that WE did alright. It was a team effort that made these panels a success, and I want to thank all the lovely panellist for that.

There probably isn’t a secret to success when moderating panels, but if there is, it’s this: read your authors’ work, prepare your questions, keep communications open.

I didn’t know what I was doing until I started doing it, and now I’d be glad to do it again, and I hope something in this helps you if you’re ever asked to moderate in the future.

Learn more about Gail Williams on her author page.

1 Comment

  • You did a brilliant job at Crimefest, Gail. As a panelist I felt really relaxed and enjoyed myself which was down to you. If a moderator isn’t up to speed with everything panellists feel tense and ill at ease and that doesn’t make for a happy experience for panelists or audience. You did Crime Cymru and yourself proud!

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