Where else but The Writer’s Digest Conference can a writer find access to so many industry experts in one place? I have yet to find another event that offers the same value. Of course I enjoy the benefits of my standing writing group and I constantly take classes to hone my craft but I continue to believe there is nothing more important than hearing about the nuts and bolts of this profession from the professionals themselves. In just a day and a half I have already absorbed worthwhile information from agents, editors and published writers and I’ve connected on a personal level with many of these people. I’ve also formed relationships with my writing peers. Here are some of the highlights from the conference that have made an impact on me:
Publishing 101: Understanding Deals and Contract Terms
Marisa A. Corvisiero (Corvisiero Literary Agency) gave a robust presentation. She talked contracts, advances and copy write in a way that made the driest of subjects engaging and simple to understand. Her humor and down-to-earth delivery made me want to keep learning. My takeaway – if you were wondering: YES – you do need an agent that you connect with and he or she really does work very hard for that fifteen percent. When negotiating deals be smart and don’t jump at anything. Always ask for what you want.
How to be Your Own Best Publicist
I was riveted by Emily Liebert’s advice. Not only is she a stellar women’s fiction author of the new book SOME WOMEN but her ability to think out of the box and sell her brand once her books are published was an eye opener. This woman is really willing to put herself on the line and the payoff has been huge. My takeaway – once you are lucky enough to have your book published don’t sit back because the hard work has just begun. Be a creative thinker in the marketing realm. Hire a publicist if funds allow. Say yes to anyone, big or small, who can help promote your book.
The Craft and Business of Women’s Fiction
I was giddy like a teenager to have been given the unique opportunity to attend this panel. This is my genre and I had front row seats to hear this powerhouse of authors speak. Jessica Strawser (ALMOST MISSED YOU), Catherine McKenzie (FRACTURED), Brenda Janowitz (THE DINNER PARTY), Emily Liebert (SOME WOMEN), Sarah Domet (THE GUINEVERES) and the moderator Kimiko Nakamura (Dee Mura Literary) couldn’t be more honest about making it in the industry and the pros and cons of working in this genre. My takeaway – when writing don’t think about the genre just tell the best story you can. Give your characters a strong voice and make plot situations be specific and any audience will be able to connect. Authorship is the same animal as running a small business so treat it that way.
How to Turn Writing Career Tragedies into Triumphs
I felt as if I hit the jackpot when I saw that Susan Shapiro, New York Times bestselling author (WHAT’S NEVER SAID) and award-winning writing professor had assembled this panel of her fellow industry luminaries. Renee Zuckerbrot (RZ Agency), Rakia Clark (Editor Beacon Press), Wayne Hoffman (Editor Tablet, author AN OLDER MAN), Angie Chen (Editor Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group), Kate Walter (author LOOKING FOR A KISS: A CHRONICLE OF DOWNTOWN HEARTBREAK AND HEALING, teacher), Sherry Amatenstein (author THE COMPLETE MARRIAGE COUNSELOR: RELATIONSHIP-SAVING ADVICE FROM AMERICA’S TOP 50+ COUPLES THERAPISTS, psychologist) were all on deck. We picked the brains of these heavyweights and their abilities to give brutally honest advice garnered from years of working in this industry was a gem. If followed, this guidance could save attendees valuable time and frustration. We were given excellent insights on how to bypass newbie mistakes. My takeaway – you have one opportunity to make a great first impression. Take time with submissions by addressing e-mails appropriately and research the editor or agent to whom you are submitting. Follow submission etiquette and only pitch one editor at a time. If an agent requests a full manuscript allow him or her the time to finish reading it and don’t pull it hastily because you’ve received another offer. Don’t be afraid to use a ghost editor before submitting any work especially in the early days and always get industry referrals. Don’t be discouraged by one rejection because this is a subjective process.