This latest iteration of So. California Writers Conference again exceeded my expectations. It was run by knowledgeable people, taught by caring presenters and peopled with energetic writers. In short, it was three days of a positive, motivating
environment that rekindled my writing fires.
I attended many seminars, met with agents and editors to assist me in my writing, met a few i**** I’ll be happy to forget (one particular person: you know who you are), and learned a lot on topics like queries, characterization, marketing my books, managing my time, and more. Here are some of my take-aways:
- self-pub is no longer a dirty word. There were many examples of writers who have dumped their traditional publisher in favor of going it themselves. Why? Control over their material. Ability to get it to market faster. Stability in their lives (not at the whim of an editor/publisher, a trend). Money, too, but not the primary motivator. This extends well beyond JA Konrath and Amanda Hocking
- self-pub is still a dirty word with agents. Konrath and Hocking are not the tip of the iceberg as self-pub authors home but the entire thing. Agents are ‘gatekeepers’, tasked with protecting readers from lousy books (they said this, I swear. I just took notes).
- publishing for traditional publishers is a business decision, not personal. (Hunh? And they think it isn’t for the writer? BTW, doesn’t this prove that if a self-pub author is successful, publishers will chase them?)
- share your self-pub creds, ie., reads on Scribd, in query letters (this surprised me, but I love it because I have huge reader numbers on Scribd)
- Mixed opinion on whether writers should be electronically active (Cheri–weigh in on this. Your Writers Digest conference said writers should do as much blogging, etc as possible). Some adamantly felt we should. Others were ambivalent. Is this reflective of the speaker’s comfort level with the digital world?
- Writing trumps creds (absolutely)
- Midlist writing is dead. Agents/publishers want the next blockbuster, not a book that does fine, but doesn’t break out.
- self-pub authors: don’t be afraid to give everything away for free. It spreads the word (the speaker–Scott Seigler–meant dole it out in bite-size pieces. Patient readers will get it all for free. Eager readers will be hooked and buy your book so they don’t have to wait. It works for him.)
Let me pause here to say that most agents and publishers missed the big point of why writers want to be published. It’s not to ‘hit it big’ although we’ll take that. It’s often to make a living doing what we love. We don’t need to get rich at it; we just need to get by.
OK. That was from Friday. Check my next post for more
Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and creator of two technology training books for middle school. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, IMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything and Technology in Education. Currently, she’s working on a techno-thriller that should be ready this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.