Thoughts On an Author’s Panel — A HippoCamp 2015 Recap

[This is a guest post by attendee Meryl Baer.]


author panel at hippocamp 2015

“How do you take something that happened and turn it into something that will sell?” Author D Watkins queried the audience during a panel discussion at the HippoCamp 2015 writer’s conference.

Writers tend to believe their experiences could be, should be, and must be shared with the world. However that is rarely the case, and when a writer details events in a way to which readers cannot relate, find boring, do not care about, or simply ask themselves, “So what?” the author failed to engage readers.

Lisa Jakub, another panelist, stated that there is a “difference between the book I needed to write and the book I needed to publish.” A personal journal or manuscript does not necessarily transform easily or automatically into a saleable book.

These and other statements offered much food for thought. And, digressing for a moment, for those unlucky enough not to make it to the conference the food was excellent, unusual for hotel/conference/group repasts.

There are times during presentations (not this one, of course) when the mind (my mind anyway) wanders. Leaving the breakfast table where new friends met, exchanged information and schmoozed, concentrating on an informative discussion presented a challenge, but I rose to the occasion.

The five speakers discussed their road to publication, diverse yet with many similarities. Panelists emphasized the fact that getting published the traditional way is very hard. The path is long and steep, time-consuming, frustrating, deflating and depressing.

Rejected over and over, listening to and accepting (or not) the recommendations of editors and others, revising, progressing through the publishing process may seem like an endless process. But the reward of holding your book in your hands is overpowering and worth the sacrifice. (Full disclosure: I am speculating. Not having published a book, I cannot report from experience.)

According to these authors, publication does not change your life. Those of us listening hope one day to find out for ourselves.


The five panelists and their books:

  • Amy Jo Burns “Cinderland”
  • Tara Caimi “Mush: from sled dogs to celiac, the scenic detour of my life”
  • Kathleen Frazier “Sleepwalker: The Mysterious Makings and Recovery of a Somnambulist”
  • Lisa Jakub – “You Look Like That Girl…”
  • D Watkins – “The Beastside” and “The Cook-Up”