Summer. The time of year many will agree that very little gets done in the publishing world. But times have changed. Summer is now the new Spring. Or the old Fall. Or maybe from here on out it’s simply the season of “E,” as has every other season necessarily become because of the inestimable impact of the internet, and the interminable beck & call of cell phone bondage and instant text messages which, arguably, enable nearly everyone to facilitate action from almost anywhere at anytime. Decisions get made and things get done rather quickly in the World of E. In fact, we are the e-World. The odds of your book getting into the hands of that cherished, anonymous reader on the other side of the page are almost utterly dependent on some aspect of the “E” — author website, blog, social media, SEO strategies, book trailers, podcast, you name it.
An overwhelming majority of writers have requested we help filter through the noise, histrionics, disinformation and plain nonsense about e-books, self-publishing, DIY, the end of the Big Six, boutique presses, and all the other distraction being hyped by so many who generally aren’t qualified to proclaim anything definitively for any one author.
Bottom line is that there is no single right route to successful publication, only an infinite number or wrong ones. While the tools available to bolster a book’s potential success have greatly expanded, those same tools are only as effective as those plying them.
What, genuinely, can one author do to leverage her odds for success in the World of E? Recognizing what she can’t, or is ill-prepared or unwilling to do, is where we’ll start in Newport Beach. Identifying and determining legitimate, real-world solutions is where we’ll finish, with a number of sessions devoted to just that.
Speaking of the real world — brick & mortar and all that “so yester-year” reality — LA8/SD25 conferee Jennifer Word posted on the SCWC Facebook page only yesterday this most exceptional bit of good muse: “I learned SO MUCH from you. The workshops, the fellow writers, the guest speakers, the shared dreams. Today I received news that my trilogy will be picked up by Stony Meadow Publishing, book one to be tentatively released November/December 2011. This book is better than it was, because I attended the SCWC, and made changes and improvements based on the incredible workshops I attended. Anyone who hasn’t attended an SCWC should do so. SCWC played a part in helping me achieve my dreams.”
Dreams. The stuff reality is made of. Thank you and congratulations, Jennifer. (Now, how cool would it have been if your parents named you “Paige!”)
Been a lot of schedule-fussing going on, as well as staff additions. Remember that the $50 Early “Bard” Discount expires August 1st. Register today to keep somebody else from doing so.
And remember… Spite. Perhaps the best reason to write!
Fresh off her winning a San Diego Book Award for Best Historical Fiction, Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman, author of the rousing Civil War novel Broken Promises, will be Sunday’s special guest speaker. Originally self-published, then picked up by Random House, Kirkus Discoveries hails that, “Hoffman intertwines history, romance, intrigue and fun in a novel that draws readers into her fresh take on the American Civil War.” While Pulitzer Prize winning author David Kennedy (Freedom from Fear) calls it simply, “[A] compelling read and masterful history.” Given Lisa’s road to publication success with her breakout novel is one being trodden by so many today, it’ll be fascinating to learn where the inevitable fork for her lay.
The preliminary schedule is now available for perusal. Don’t marry yourself to it, as there are holes to be filled, sessions to be swapped, drinks to be drank. The schedule will change over the next several weeks. It always does when we’re factoring in what truly are the pressing issues writers need to be dealing with at this particular time. Lots of writers have contacted us expressing big interest in all things “E” (both capital and small case), which we addressed pretty thoroughly at SD25. But that was four months back and times have changed. Don’t fret, we’re on it again with all the latest for LA9.
Among the latest staff confirmed, freelance editor Jean Jenkins returns with her wildly popular “Best Foot Forward: Polishing to Impress” genre-fiction workshops. Author Kathy Porter will debut a vitally needed session on getting you and your book into bookstores — and all the essential must-dos and how-tos an author needs to know to put on a successful book signing. Author/editor Mike Sirota is back, of course. So is author/editor Marla Miller and Sunbelt Publications Editor Jennifer Silva Redmond. They’re putting together a pitch session that you’ll definitely want to sink your teeth into, else risk losing a foot!
Still got a lot of stuff to announce. Please don’t hesitate to let Michael know what topics you’d like addressed in September. Things are moving fast out there. The more current information we all have, the mo’ better prepared we all are to make informed decisions.
With her latest thriller out this week, White Shotgun (Knopf), April Smith delivers her fourth pulse-pounding installment of the life of FBI Special Agent Ana Grey. Booklist’s starred review calls her, “[A] credible, fascinating heroine, both worldly and rueful about her unsettled life. Tight suspense and fascinating background.” And People Magazine gives the novel three stars, proclaiming that “the adrenaline is nicely balanced by the heroine’s grappling with loyalties to both blood and Bureau.” Also a television writer and producer, having worked in espisodics and longform, April has done adaptations for Stephen King, Anna Quindlen, and Nora Roberts. She’ll be joining us as Saturday evening’s special guest speaker to tell all about it.
More workshop leaders and advance submission readers to announce as we’re still piecing the working schedule together. Before that, however, is this bit of extremely good “muse” that’s just come in: longtime SCWC director Wes Albers has signed with ZOVA Books for the publication of his debut novel, Black & White.
“We are honored to have Wes Albers join ZOVA Books,” says ZOVA Partner and CEO Matthew J. Pizzo. “Wes has been helping the entire Southern California literary community as the director of the Southern California Writers’ Conference and we have seen Wes’ proactive and positive impact on writers for years. His novel, Black & White, is gritty, raw and will set the standard for modern noir. Black & White isn’t just any police story–it is written with the real world knowledge that only someone of Wes’ caliber can create. To have this powerful voice in our house is a tremendous honor for ZOVA Books and solidifies our sustained partnership with the Southern California Writers’ Conference.”
Couldn’t agree more. Congratulations, Wes. You’ve earned it!
In yet another testament to author empowerment, less than three months after the disastrous earthquake in Japan 19 authors joined the efforts to assist those afflicted. Shaken: Stories for Japan, a new collection of original Japan-themed short stories available only in e-book format, features two longtime SCWC staffers among its contributors, mystery writers Gary Phillips and Ken Kuhlken. “One hundred percent of the writers’ royalties from the purchase go directly to the 2011 Japan Relief Fund administrated by Japan America Society of Southern California, which has already sent $750,000 to organizations working on the scene,” affirms Edgar nominated crime novelist Tim Hallinan, who spearheaded the project. Great reads for a great cause.
Still confirming staff for LA9. The latest aboard include Marsal Lyon Literary Agency co-founder Jill Lyon. Jill’s looking for a wide variety of material, so you’ll want to check out her bio on the staff page if you’re thinking of advance submissions to an agent. Zova Books, the boutique publisher that could and is proving it well after signing SD25 conferee Jessica Therrien for her debut novel, The Descendants (read more here), returns in September. Very shortly we’ll be announcing yet another SCWCer who they just signed.
The San Diego Book Awards winners were announced at the annual ceremony this past Saturday. Staffers from both the L.A. and San Diego conferences did quite well, including NovelCram track leader Drusilla Campbell (Theodor S. Geisel Award “Best of the Best” and Contempory Fiction for The Good Sister), Judy Reeves (General Nonfiction for A Writer’s Book of Days), Ken Kuhlken (Mystery Fiction for The Biggest Liar in Los Angeles), Laurel Corona (Historical Fiction for Penelope’s Daughter), and Ellen Bryson (Historical Fiction for The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno). Longtime conferee Douglas P. Lathrop took the prize for Best Unpublished Novel, Adult for Reconquista. A hearty congratulations to all as all are richly deserved.
Much more soon.
With the Big Six flummoxed following the Hollywood model with increasing commitment to only tentpole titles rich in star power but often absent soulfully satisfying, original content, authors everywhere are now embracing the economic advantages of bucking the old path to publication by going straight to ebook. And with Amazon now having become a publisher with five imprints, and ramifications yet to unfold, things have gotten pretty interesting in today’s publishing world. For a lot of writers, however, both new and accomplished, things have just gotten confusing. Do the risks outweigh the rewards? Is the real cost of author empowerment sacrificing time to actually write? When is the traditional route to release no longer relevant? Why?
Though we addressed a lot of these issues at SD25, over the past three months a lot’s gone down in the industry. The tides require parting in effort to navigate these turbulent seas successfully. While it’s safe to say that this is the best of times for writers, it’s also the mess of times for many. The future of publishing is here. Chase it or reign it in and ride it–that’s what we’ll devote a good amount of attention to in Newport Beach. (Excuse the messed up metaphor, sorry.) In the meantime, Gayle Carline has a new book out on Kindle this week, Hit or Missus (A Peri Minneopa Mystery). With the tagline, “A friend will help you move–a good friend will help you move a body,” you know that, as usual, Gayle’s gonna give you a refreshingly fun read.
Literary rep. Dana Newman’s aboard for LA9. Dana joined us for the first time at last September’s LA8 and snagged first time conferee Marsha Aizumi’s memoir Two Spirits, One Heart. Just last week Marsha signed the deal with Magnus Books for publication next spring. Good job both!
Longtime hardcore workshoppers Maralys Wills and Matthew J. Pallamary are back, as are others yet to be announced, including more agents, editors, authors and naughty people (you know who you are). Also have our final guest speakers to announce, one of which I failed to make clear last update: Darlene Quinn.
That’s all for now. The $75 Early “Bard” Discount expires June 1. Take advantage of it, if for no other reason, to keep somebody else from getting it!
Quite the past couple of weeks for several SCWC*LAers. Author Darlene Quinn’s Twisted Webs, the sequel to her 2009 National Indie Excellence Award-winning Webs of Power, just won the 2011 International Book Award for General Fiction. The prequel to the series, Webs of Fate (Greenleaf), isn’t out ’til October but Darlene’s going to be with us at LA9 so we’re just going have to throw a launch party for the highly anticipated new release–a bit of a deviation from the first two titles, actually, in that it ramps up the suspense by opening with a murder. Or is it? And look at who all else is getting deserved recognition:
That incomparable author/writing provocateur Judy Reeves just got word that her fully revised, 10th year anniversary edition of A Writers Book of Days: A Spirited Companion & Lively Muse for the Writing Life (New World Library) is a finalist a 2011 San Diego Book Award, Nonfiction (be sure to watch & share the 1-min. trailer with all your writerly friends). On the Contemporary Fiction front, NovelCram immersion track leader Drusilla Campbell’s The Good Sister (Grand Central) is a finalist, as is LA8 special guest Ellen Bryson’s The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno (Henry Holt and Co.), up for Best Historical. Many other of our favorite SCWC author/workshop leaders have been nominated. Be sure to check out the San Diego side of the site to learn who, because right now we’re all about Newport Beach!
The latest additions confirmed include Nancy Ellen Dodd, author of the very cool The Writer’s Compass: From Story Map to Finished Draft in 7 Stages, out June from Writers Digest Books. Former Harcourt Children’s Books editor, now fulltime YA author Deborah Halverson is aboard. Her latest, Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies, is out July. Prolific award-winning contributor to Mars and Venus in Love and Chicken Soup for the Soul books, and numerous print and online publications, B.J. Taylor is with us. Andy Ross Literary Agency’s own Andy Ross will be at the conference, as will others to be announced.
Once the bulk of the remaining LA9 staff is confirmed we’ll open up the advance submission readers list in the registration cart and print form. That’ll happen early June. We’ll start filling out the schedule then, too. In the meantime, the $75 Early “Bard” Discount expires at month’s end. Save your spot by saving today and join us in September. You’ve earned it!
Among those joining us September is John Vorhaus, author of The Albuquerque Turkey, his wildly readable sequel to The California Roll. Chronicling the capers of grifters Radar Hoverlander and Allie Quinn, Kirkus calls his latest, “Pleasantly preposterous.” Booklist raves, “Clever and glib and fine entertainment.” Even Publishers Weekly assures that “Elmore Leonard and Carl Hiaasen fans should be pleased.” Also a screenwriter, John’s The Comic Toolbox: How to be Funny Even if You’re Not remains the seminal book on writing comedy for TV and film, and his numerous titles on poker, including the six-volume Killer Poker series, remain ridiculously popular. Along with being Friday evening’s special guest speaker, as is befitting, John will be conducting a rather unique workshop.
Andrew Peterson, whose breakout novel First to Kill evolved from our PS2 event, is back. His latest to feature former Marine sniper Nathan McBride, Forced to Kill, is out tomorrow on Audible.com read by none other than the voice of Jack Reacher, Dick Hill. Following a far too long hiatus, author and award-winning filmmaker Pamela Jaye Smith returns. Her latest, Symbols * Images * Codes: The Secret Language of Meaning in Film, TV, Games and Visual Media, should prove especially useful for book writers in this Age of the Entrepreneurial Author.
Joining us for the first time is playwright, television and screenwriter Kat Smith. Named one of the “25 New Indie Faces to Watch” by Filmmaker magazine, Kat’s scripted for ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox/FX, Starz/Encore, Warner Brothers, Universal and others, is an alumnus of AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women and Film Independent’s Directors lab. Kat will debut a severe character building workshop culled from her 20 years of professional experience, as well as her studies with renowned acting teacher William Esper and lifetime fascination with psychology.
Plenty of familiar friends will be with us in Newport Beach, including such popular workshop leaders as Judy Reeves, Laura Taylor and Robert Yehling. Behler Publications editorial director Lynn Price will be there. And, of course, Drusilla Campbell will be conducting yet another round of her total immersion NovelCram: Building the Better Book. On the agents front, Gordon Warnock of Andrea Hurst & Associates and van Haitsma Literary’s Sally van Haitsma are committed, with plenty others yet to be announced.
Lots more updates comin’ up. Remember that the Newport Beach conference is more limited in size than San Diego. Reserve your spot by taking advantage of the $75 Early “Bard” Discount today.