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Sleuthfest: Part 1

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 6, 2011

Sleuthfest, the annual mystery writers conference sponsored by the Florida chapter of MWA, was in full swing when I arrived on Saturday.

I attended several sessions which I’ll describe in three pieces so come back tomorrow for more.


This is from my panel on Keeping It Real.

The Editors Panel

A panel with five editors spearheaded the morning on Saturday. Following is a paraphrasing of what I heard.

  • The more platforms we have, and the more e-books, the more books we’ll sell.
  • Formats may shrink when the dust settles on the e-book revolution.
  • Bookstores are just one of the places today where you can buy books.
  • The real problem is the American economy. When workers are laid off, it creates an instability in the entire industry.
  • Small press haven’t had to reduce staff like the big companies. They offer a miniscule advance and have a small print run, but then they consider 3,000-4,000 books sold to be a good number and 5,000 or more even better. Most often the print runs are set on expected sales.
  • Library sales have been decreasing due to the economy.
  • It’s easier to get reviews for a debut author than for an author on their fourth or fifth book. It’s also easier to sell someone without a track record.
  • Small press may be okay with steady sales as opposed to soaring growth, although they do like to see some growth. They might try different sales incentives to raise an author’s profile.
  • If you want to sell outside the U.S., you have to write what the foreign market understands. Certain sports games, for example, will need to be explained. Dark thrillers do better in foreign markets than cozies.
  • Series are easier to sell than stand-alones because readers fall in love with the characters. When a series starts to falter, a stand-alone novel can reinvigorate a career.

Disclaimer: Any misinterpretations are mine alone. This is what I heard to the best of my ability.


Mary Lou Wymer & Victoria Landis

Julie Compton & Suzanne Adair


Oline Cogdill & Linda Hengerer


Lynette Hallberg & Barbara Bent

More Photos may be accessed here:


2 Responses to “Sleuthfest: Part 1”

  1. Jeanne Meeks said

    I couldn’t get to Sleuthfest, so I appreciate your observations. Much of the same was discussed at Love is Murder in Chicago last month.
    Thanks for keeping us informed.

  2. Tomorrow I’ll write about the panels on Reinventing Yourself and E-Books.

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