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Susan Littlefield
10-31-2010, 06:44 AM
Hello AW Friends!

I cannot tell you how energized I feel right now, as I attended my first writers conference today. It was fabulous! It was great hanging out with writers friends, as well as meeting one AW member, Deak.

The conference had three tracts of workshops: craft of writing, genre, and technology and business. I feel like I have a good grasp on the writing craft, but that I know little about the business side of publishing.

Ella Southard (http://elisaonassignment.com/), the morning keynote speaker, woke us up with her contagious positive attitude. She talked about how Stephen King, Beatrice Potter and Jacqueline Mitchard traveled the hero's journey through tragedy, only to come out the other end with an attitude of insouciance. Her message was that we can all have this kind of a serious but carefree attitude in our own journey as writers.

Teresa LeYung Ryan (http://lovemadeofheart.com/blog/) talked about the importance of building your name in the writing world. She suggested using positive I statements when you talk about your work. For example, "I help grieving mothers cope with loss through my writing," or "I write thrillers I hope will push readers to the edge of their seat." Create some type of tag line, or signature, so that others will associate this with you and your name.

I loved the agent panel with Katherine Cowles (http://www.cowlesryan.com/katherine), Andy Ross (http://www.andyrossagency.com/agency.html), and Gordon Warnock (http://www.andreahurst.com/literary-management/about/gordon-warnock/). They discussed how slow the publishing business and the 18 months of hard work from contract to publication. They advised against self publishing for first novelists, advocating that it may be more appropriate for people who already have a fan base. All three of them said a freelance editor prior to submission is not necessary, because they will go through an editorial process with the publisher.

Patricia Fry (http://www.patriciafry.com/) spoke about publishing options, including traditional and self publishing. As a young writer, she went through a divorce and made the decision to support herself on her writing. She already had numerous articles published when she started her own publishing company. She advocates traditional publishing as well as small press publishing, but says that self publishing is not profitable for the writer.

I took one genre class on mystery writing by Terri Thayer (http://www.territhayer.com/index.php), the author of Stomping Sister Mysteries and Quilting Mysteries. I love reading mysteries, and try to include elements of mystery in my own writing. I learned about heroes and villains, plot, clues, fair play and cops, and how these elements are usually present in mysteries.

Finally, one of my favorite authors, Sheldon Siegel (http://www.sheldonsiegel.com/), was the noon keynote speaker. He talked about how the world of publishing is changing and about how to find an audience. Book promotion today is often up to the writer, which means putting yourself out there and building an audience in every way you can. In order to catch the eyes of agents and publishers, the story must be good, the book self-edited, and as polished as you can make it. Once you are in the query process, start writing your next book.

I just wanted to share my great experience with everyone here. And, finally to ask those of you who have attended writer's conferences to share your experience, whether positive or negative.

Kate Thornton
10-31-2010, 11:01 PM
It sounds like you had a great time! Perhaps we'll see you in Santa Fe next year for Left Coast Crime!


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Susan Littlefield
10-31-2010, 11:12 PM
Kate,

It was great fun. I have been writing for years, but I find there is so much to learn from those who are experienced and know the ins and outs of publishing. In listening to the agent panel, I learned that I am doing all the right things when querying agents- making sure they represent my genre, researching submission guidelines, following guidelines to the tee.

Do you attend the writers conference in Santa Fe? What do you think of it?

Kate Thornton
11-01-2010, 12:23 AM
Susan,

I attend Left Coast Crime - it was in Los Angeles this year, in Santa Fe next year - I write mysteries and speculative fiction, so it is right up my alley. I really like attending at least one conference a year, just to stay in touch with everyone and to learn something new.

I don't attend much else, though - maybe I'll spring for 2 conferences next year, though!

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Susan Littlefield
11-01-2010, 09:42 AM
Kate,

I think attending conferences are a great way to connect with the writer's world, as well as learn as much as possible about the business side of writing.