Some thirty years in the making, Selden Edward’s debut novel, The Little Book, became an international bestseller when published in 2009. Of it Pat Conroy hailed, “I’ve never read a novel like it. I felt like my life was changing forever as I savored its many delights and mysteries.” NPR’s Maureen Corrigan called it, “A soaring thing of joy whose only purpose—and I mean this as a compliment—is to delight and entertain.” Entertainment Weekly called it, “Back to the Future for the intellectual set.” Three years later, its eagerly anticipated follow-up, The Lost Prince, a kind of sequel, or maybe prequel, is just out. Selden returns to the SCWC to discuss the impact such breakout success has had on his journey, the pressure to deliver on expectations, and anything else he wants to. Be sure to watch Selden’s take on rewriting and rejection in the video excerpt from his SD24 keynote address at the bottom of this update.
Some more additions to the LA10 roster. From boutique publisher Muse Harbor, acquisitions editors Eileen Workman and Dave Workman are aboard and accepting advance submissions for consideration. Author and longtime SCWC workshop leader Matt Pallamary recently joined the house as its editor-in-chief. On the screenwriting front, Tarcher is sponsoring a Sunday panel featuring contributors to its popular Now Write! Screenwriting: Screenwriting Exercises from Today’s Best Writers and Teachers. Moderated by Laurie Lamson, the book’s editor, those joining the discussion will be accomplished screenwriters Glenn M. Benest, Christine Conradt, and Tommy Swerdlow. Should be lively!
Author/workshop leader Maralys Wills is having a busy year. Two new books: Buy a Trumpet and Blow Your Own Horn! Turning Books into Bucks, which features 18 lengthy interviews with authors of all stripes, including our own dynamo Darlene Quinn; and So You’re Seventy… So What? How to Love the Years You Thought You’d Hate–that one pretty much speaks for itself.
Also, the jacket to Jessica Therrien’s second volume in her “Children of the Gods” trilogy, Uprising, has just been unveiled by her publisher ZOVA Books. ZOVA premiered the first, her debut novel Oppression, at SD26 along with SCWC director Wes Albers’ Black & White.
John Robert Marlow’s Make Your Story a Movie: Adapting Your Book or Idea for Hollywood is out from St. Martin’s come December. During his research for it, having spoken to authors, playwrights, comic book creators and publishers, Hollywood screenwriters, producers and directors responsible for adapting fictional and true stories into Emmy-winning TV shows, Oscar-winning films, billion-dollar megahits and smaller independents, along with the entertainment attorneys who made the deals, John amassed such a wealth of insight we just couldn’t wait until SD27 to have him share it. His LA10 workshop is one many will not want to miss.
Sharing information, providing different perspectives, having a constructive dialogue about the disparate, sometimes contradictory approaches authors and other publishing professionals have taken is a fundamental part of the SCWC experience. And as there’s no single right way to write a great book, only an infinite number of wrong ways, in this age of punishing digital distraction, the same can also be said of publishing a book–there is no single right way to do so, only an infinite number of wrong ways.
Just where does a writer turn? The Big Six publishers remain relevant, but will smaller, selective independent houses with legitimate distribution deals prove the more viable option for most? Or is POD and e-book truly the best (or preferred) way to go?
The answers to these questions are as varied as the author behind every title. What pretty much applies to all, however, is that the writer’s role in achieving success today weighs disproportionately on the shoulders of the writer. Not the publisher. And for myriad reasons this applies to all modes of publication, from legacy press to self-published e-book. Which is why we’re talking DYI.
“Do Yourself Independence” (DYI) is a practice, or attitude, that most emerging authors must possess in order to rise above the hype and distinguish their work. It speaks to the need that, regardless of how you choose to be published, you, the author, are ultimately responsible for the success or failure of your career.
With particular emphasis on those electing to go it alone, whether via e-books, micro-press, POD, service-assisted self-publishing, or some combination, we’re introducing a number of DYI sessions that explore the options, strategies and tools writers can utilize to bolster the ability of their books to thrive. Among those already slated:
What we’ll not be advocating is spamming every Twitter feed, Facebook wall or other social media outlet with, “Hey, my e-book is available!” For those who haven’t figured it out, if you want people to buy your book, you don’t sell your book!
From the Corvisiero Literary Agency, none other than Marisa Iozza Corvisiero will be joining us from New York. Following her tenure at L. Perkins Lit., Marisa opened up shop just after her SD26 debut. We liked her. She’s hungry. She’s eager. She’s looking to build her client list. She’s accepting advance submissions, and she’ll be conducting a workshop.
It’s not unusual this many weeks out for us to be fielding lots of questions from writers new to the SCWC. For first-timers, coupled with the trepidation many feel exposing their work to professional critique there’s the added anxiety of not knowing what to expect from a writers’ conference in general. As every writers’ conference is different and we can’t speak to how another operates or what its emphasis may be, beyond the information available in our Frequently Asked Questions there are some things that distinguish the SCWC and factor greatly in the kind of experience any writer attending should expect:
The deadline for submitting material to optional advance submission readers is Sept. 1. There will no doubt be an addition or two to the list, but now is the time to make your selections if going with a reader. If you selected a reader “to be announced,” email Michael or Chrissie your choice(s) using the contact button on the right side navigation bar. If going with multiple readers, remember you can enclose the submissions in a single envelope addressed to the SCWC to save postal costs.
No doubt many have heard the news announced last week that Author Solutions (parent company of self-/assisted-publishing services AuthorHouse, iUniverse, Xlibris, etc.) was acquired by the parent company of Penguin for $116 million. AS reported in a press release revenues of “$100 million in 2011 and has published 190,000 books by 150,000 authors since its founding in 2007.”
As posted on the SCWC Facebook wall, one savvy writer did the math: “In other words, 150,000 writers have paid Author Solutions to print and promote 38,000 books a year–over 3,000 a month–the overwhelming bulk of which lack the editorial integrity for legitimate publication.”
One of the services AS offers writers is a “Hollywood-style” book trailer for a mere $19,999.
You read that right. $19,999.
It’s not so much the cost as is the borderline swindle that a book trailer nobody is looking for is going to find it online without exceptionally well managed, targeted distribution and exhibition of it. How many book sales will it take to cover that $20k nut?
Writers, be careful out there. More people are making money from writers than are writers making money from their writing.
Updates on the next winter conference in San Diego should begin mid-August. For those looking to save big on our Presidents’ Day Weekend event in February, register by September 1st and knock a whopping $100 off Full Conference participation.
Another SCWC success. Mary G. Thompson’s scrumptious Wuftoom is now out from Clarion. Booklist hails it, “Impressively unappetizing and absolutely unique.” And like so many of today’s best work in the YA genre, Mary’s novel skews well into adult market appeal. It tells the story of young, sick Evan, for whom everyone is convinced that science will find a cure. Thing is, Evan knows he’s not sick. He’s transforming, and his metamorphosis keeps him confined to his bed, constantly terrified, and completely alone. Alone, except for his visits from the Wuftoom, a wormlike creature that tells him he is becoming one of them. How cool is that? Mary will be at LA10 and we’re delighted.
Bridget Hoida is also aboard. Recipient of an Anna Bing Arnold Fellowship and the Edward Moses prize for fiction, finalist in the Joseph Henry Jackson/San Francisco Intersection for the Arts Award for a first novel and the William Faulkner Pirate’s Alley first novel contest, her short stories have appeared in the Berkeley Fiction Review, Mary, and Faultline Journal, among others, and she was a finalist in the Iowa Review Fiction Prize and the Glimmer Train New Writer’s Short Story Contest. Of So L.A., Bridget’s debut novel just out, Shawna Yang Ryan (Water Ghosts) raves, “Bridget Hoida has crafted that rarest of books: intelligent, gorgeously written—and, best of all, fun.” And Chris Abani (The Virgin of Flames and Song For Night) declares, “This is a book Joan Didion will wish she’d written!” Her path to publication is a story in itself and we look forward to hearing what she’s learned and why she made the choices she did.
The working schedule is now posted for perusal. As usual this far out, it’s an amorphous thing that will continue to evolve over the next several weeks while we tailor the individual tracks to better serve the current needs of writers. Also, as usual, while the primary emphasis remains on story & execution workshops, the transmedia track, which the SCWC pioneered way back in 2005, will again focus on the myriad, rapidly evolving developments in the digital realm, and we don’t mean strictly social media–just because someone has a Facebook page and Twitter account doesn’t make them a social media guru.
In the Digital Age, even for the most entrepreneurial author, the choices writers have to make with regards to their books and career can be overwhelming: legacy publishing, indie press, DIY or straight to e-book? Will the marketing efforts that are successful for one author prove so for another? Will spamming Facebook walls and friends with unsolicited, un-evocative announcements about your e-book’s availability translate into actual sales? What are the challenges of going with Kindle, Nook, Smashwords or any other e-book platform and how do you overcome them? More importantly, what are the risks? Are agents becoming irrelevant? And what exactly is “agent-assisted publishing?” All this and plenty more will be dealt with in September.
Meanwhile, the advance submission readers are now open for selection. More will be added as we begin finalizing the remaining authors, agents and editors who’ll be joining us. Please let Michael know if there’s any specific topics you’d like addressed. Things are moving fast out there. The more current information we all have, the better prepared we all are to make informed decisions.
And if you haven’t watched it already, here’s author John Vorhaus (The Albuquerque Turkey) addressing one reality writers face with regards to e-books at last year’s LA9.
Described as “John Grisham with a sister’s twist,” Pamela Samuels Young makes her SCWC debut in September. The award-winning author of such taught legal thrillers as Every Reasonable Doubt, In Firm Pursuit, Murder on the Down Low, and Buying Time–honored with a 2010 Fiction Award by The Black Caucus of the American Library Association–her books are immensely popular with readers everywhere, but it’s her path to publication where the real story lies. Full of insight and inspiration, she’ll tell us all about it, as well as her latest, Attorney-Client Privilege, out July from Goldman House.
No doubt you’ve heard plenty about HarperCollins digital imprint, Authonomy, derived from its online effort geared to “flush out the brightest, freshest new literature around.” Well, none other than Mary Vensel White is aboard for LA10. Her debut novel, The Qualities of Wood, was the first book chosen for publication based on nominations from the Authonomy writing community. A work of literary fiction bestowed the 2012 International Book Award, the challenges of crafting the novel proved unique enough–though pervasive throughout the writing community–that Mary’s put together a workshop right up the SCWC’s alley: “Outside Genre: How Story Trumps Convention.”
Speaking of community, both our .COMmunity and extended community of SCWCers, Janice Thomas is a familiar face to many regulars. Among our prized volunteers behind the registration desk the past two conferences, not only will she be introducing a new workshop, “Getting to the Heart of Women’s Fiction,” but also her debut novel from Berkely Books, Something New. The publication date isn’t until November, but we’re pretty sure we’ll get our little digits on some advance copies. Congratulations, Janice!
Another member of the community couldn’t have made us more proud than Sheri Fink, best-selling children’s book author of The Little Rose and The Little Gnome. Sheri took it upon herself to compile not one, but two Amazon Listmania lists of books that have come out from SCWCers in recent years. While in no manner complete, it offers up over 60 titles in almost every genre imaginable for your reading pleasure, including Jennifer Word’s debut novel, The Society, just out from Stony Meadow Publishing. Thank you, Sheri!
Two debut novels were unveiled by ZOVA Books at February’s SD26 event. SCWCer Jessica Therrien’s Oppression, the first volume in her Children of the Gods trilogy, and SCWC director Wes Albers’s gritty Black & White. Both have won over gobs of fans since then, and both have given extended audio interviews to our friends at Scripts & Scribes. Here you can listen or download for later the podcast of Wes and the podcast of Jessica.
Quick shout out to yet another ZOVA Books writer, author and Oscar-winning screenwriter Michael Blake. His sequel to Dances with Wolves, Into the Stars, recently nabbed the Gold Medal IPPY Award for Military/Wartime Fiction. Of course, Michael is one our special guest speakers and workshop leaders in Newport Beach. Members of ZOVA’s editorial team will also being joining in.
As usual, we’ll be opening up the advance submission readers for selection by month’s end, just as soon as the remaining agents, editors and authors who’ll be accepting material are confirmed. The working schedule will be posted in a week or so. Also, either at the end of June or first week of July, we’ll be rolling out a new feature of WritersConference.com that so many have been asking for for a very long time. Be sure you’re subscribed to our newsletter to find out where it will be and when. If you’re a writer, you’ll not want to miss it.
Attending writers’ conferences often ain’t cheap and the motives of the organizers putting them on can sometimes prove questionable. Some are devoted to the writers attending, others more to those the writers are seeking to learn from or be represented by. For nearly 27 years the SCWC has distinguished itself for a reason: it is first and foremost about extending our community, our commitment to passionate advocacy for writers, far beyond the end of any given event’s weekend. Two brief essays that got lost in the website rollover, geared to help you choose the right conference for you, are now back: “Pitch Conference: My Opinion,” by Jean Jenkins and “Choose the Write Conference for Your Needs,” by Michael Steven Gregory. At some point we’ll get them back on the front page.
Finally, the Newport Beach conference is more limited in size than San Diego. Reserve your spot by taking advantage of the Early “Bard” Discount by July 1. And be sure to join the vigorous conversation on our SCWC Facebook Wall.
Having sold nine novels in four years (two adult to St. Martin’s Press and seven young adult to Farrar, Straus, Giroux), author Jessica Brody will be joining us for the first time in Newport Beach. Her latest, 52 Reasons to Hate My Father, is out this Summer, while Unremembered, the first book in a new teen sci-fi series, is due early 2013. Both have already been optioned for film and Jessica’s going to tell us all about it as one of our special guest speakers. She’ll also be conducting a new workshop informing how to apply the unique, proven methodology she uses to structure novels. And look who else will be with us:
Bestselling author and international writing guru Tom Bird will be making his debut appearance at the SCWC. So, too, will author and longtime Hollywood story consultant Gene Del Vecchio. His latest, Creating Blockbusters: How to Generate and Market Hit Entertainment for TV, Movies, Video Games, and Books (Pelican), is just out.
On the children’s front, SCWCer–now bestselling indie author–Sheri Fink will be sharing her inspirational journey to electing to self-publish, The Little Rose, a #1 best-seller on Amazon for over 40 weeks, and which became the #1 Top-Rated Children’s eBook on Amazon. Her second book, The Little Gnome, was published only last month and debuted at #1 on the Amazon best-seller list. Whether you’re looking to ePublish or go the “traditional” route, Sheri promises a truly insightful, strategy-packed session for today’s entrepreneurial author.
With still more to be announced, plenty other authors, editors, agents and other publishing professionals have been confirmed for LA10, so be sure to check out the staff page.
Some good “muse” to spread: John Rosenberg’s debut novel, Tincture of Time (World Nouveau), is out. The original manuscript was recognized and awarded by the SCWC for Outstanding Fiction years back. It’s the second book John’s gotten published that came out of the conference. The Healthy Edit: Creative Editing Techniques for Perfecting Your Movie (Focal Press) came out 2010…
Longtime SCWC workshop leader, and a special guest speaker at this past February’s San Diego event, Frederick Ramsay’s next installment in his critically lauded Ike Schwartz Mystery series, Scone Island, is out August from Poisoned Pen. It’ll mark his twelfth book published since his first attending the SCWC*LA as a conferee back in 2005. Congratulations, all!
Remember that the Newport Beach conference is more limited in size than San Diego. Reserve your spot by taking advantage of the Early “Bard” Discount today. And don’t forget to join the conversation on our SCWC Facebook Wall.
Six months out and already so much to report. Returning to the SCWC with not just one, but two books just out is none other than that irrepressible literary illuminati Robert Ward. Of Renegades: My Wild Trip from Professor to New Journalist... (Tyrus Books) Library Journal hails, “essential reading for those interested in new journalism.” And of The Best Bad Dream (Mysterious Press), Bob’s latest novel, T. Jefferson Parker, Edgar-winning author of The Border Lords, proclaims it, “smart, startling, a little wicked. The writing is perfect pitch and the characters feel like people you’ve met and known… A terrific read.” Now guess which Academy Award-winning writer will be with us?
Michael Blake, who nabbed an Oscar for the screen adaptation of his novel Dances With Wolves, will be making his SCWC debut at LA10. Michael’s written quite a lot since that first widely rejected manuscript was initially released to little fanfare. Into the Stars, his latest historical novel, is out from ZOVA Books.
Speaking of ZOVA Books, Oppression, book one of Jessica Therrien’s “Children of the Gods” YA paranormal romance/adventure series, is the no. 5 best-selling teen Nook book at the moment, directly behind the remarkably successful Hunger Games trilogy. Jessica, of course, was discovered by ZOVA at our SD25 event and we couldn’t be more thrilled for her. Good book. Good read. Good author.
And yet another ZOVA author is making his debut. SCWC director Wes Albers’ novel, Black & White, hits the shelves today (and Nook and Kindle)! New York Times bestseller Gayle Lynds (The Book of Spies) calls it, “Gritty and rewarding… A top-notch cop novel. Watch out, Joseph Wambaugh!” Andrew Peterson (Forced to Kill) calls it, “A gutsy look at the inside life of a street cop. Thoroughly entertaining!” While Gary Phillips (The Underbelly) has this to say, “Gripping. Rugged. Authentic… Bring your diapers.”
Obviously, there’s lots of authors, agents, editors and other publishing professionals still to be announced so be sure to join our RSS feed, or subscribe to our .COMmunity newsletter to keep up to date. Follow us on the SCWC Facebook page for plenty of other information and writerly good times.
Early “Bard” Registration is now open. Register by June 1 and save $75 off Full Conference. In the meantime, for another good story well told, check out Wes speaking at last month’s SD26 event below.
Each and every SCWC has its unique take-away. For some it’s a specific scrap of information that suddenly blows open the floodgates of inspiration, for others it may be making a deep and visceral connection with another like-minded soul. An agent’s request to see your manuscript, a handful of peers responding favorably to your work during read & critique, even a silly, goober-spitting moment of hilarity while simply kicking it with other writers–the conference take-aways are varied and many and sometimes personal. For me, during our 37th conference in nearly 26 years, there were two…
LA9 Take-away 1: Writers are so hot that an L.A. firefighter ditched his friend’s wedding reception to hang with a group of us until 6:45 in the morning. See, even LAFD couldn’t put us out. LA9 Take-away 2: We often forget to recognize how far a writer’s come. Yes, Wes and I joke on Friday night that our only expectation of conferees is to leave the last day of the conference with their work sucking less than when they arrived on the first, but the thing is, stick-to-itness, the ability to listen to criticism and suggestions in effort to elevate your craft, coupled with the determination to do so, all that too warrants recognition.
Tenacity, determination, and the long slog of incremental improvements made that ultimately, hopefully, result in a good story well told is not unique to “aspiring” or emerging writers. It is the skein ALL writers share. And while some people measure a writer’s validation merely by publication, what also validates a writer is great improvement of craft, published or not. Wes and I were reminded of that Sunday when informed that one such writer, Lisa Holdren, a conferee who’s been with us for at least four conferences, demonstrated such. It’s been too many years since we rewarded such commitment. It’s been too many years since we applauded such achievement. Sunday was a good day to do so, and for that we are grateful. Now on to the awards…
From Diamond Bar, CA
From Sherman Oaks, CA
Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman (read here)
From San Diego, CA
Bob Harman (read here)
From Laguna Beach, CA
Congratulations all! We plan to be back in Newport Beach next September. Thanks to our special guest speakers, Margaret Dilloway, Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman, Darlene Quinn, Scott Sigler, and John Vorhaus. Special thanks to all our SCWC workshop leaders, advance submission readers and hard working volunteers. Above all else, a robust and especially beefy thanks to all the conferees who entrusted us with their work and aspirations this past weekend. It is the SCWC’s honor to be a part of your community. It is with you we wish to spoon.
San Diego 26 is only five months away. We hope to see you there. In the meantime, go forth and write well!