There is no single right way to write a great book, only an infinite number of wrong ways. Today the same holds true for publishing a great book. Of the countless decisions the modern author must make during the crafting of her book, both creative and practical, tiny and great, perhaps none carry more weight than that of choosing to pursue a traditional print publisher or electing to self-publish. “Publishing” an e-book seems so easy, so fast, so affordable that anybody can do it. And it seems like almost everybody has.
For the traditionally established author with a backlist whose rights have reverted perhaps the choice is obvious. But for the emerging author, unknown in an ever-increasingly competitive marketplace already saturated with titles, the decision often is not. Crafting a great story, writing a great book, is hard enough. Self-publishing a great book, regardless of how well written? Well, more and more writers suffering from premature e-publication are discovering just how hard it is. Next month we’ll deal a lot with the challenges of self-publishing in effort to enable those considering doing so to make an informed decision. After all, as with your craft, you should settle only for excellence in your publication.
The latest iteration of WritersConference.com is here and you’re looking right at it! Faster, more streamlined, easier to navigate on tablets and smartphones, we’d love to get your feedback on what works, what doesn’t, and what more you’d like to see on the site. While there’s still some tweaks to make, one of the coolest additions in functionality has to do with the conference schedule page. There, once the workshops and events are plugged in, you’ll be able to select individual sessions you’re interested in attending and add them to your own, personalized SD28 program for printing prior to the conference. You can thank Jeremy Lee James for that.
Advance Submissions . . . The deadline for getting Advance Submission material to us is January 14. Given the unprecedented ten weeks of technical meltdowns—both main SCWC computers died, total database corruption, answering service inaccessible, email accounts down and most all correspondence from early October to the first week of December lost—please be mindful of the deadline as some of the readers got hit pretty hard without our knowing it.
“Best Foot Forward: Polishing to Impress 1 & 2” . . . Jean Jenkins’ popular genre-crafting workshop is limited to 12 participants only and requires pre-registration, along with written materials, by February 1. Notify the conference by email if you’ve already registered and would like to get in.
Discounted hotel lodging . . . Crowne Plaza San Diego resort is the site of the conference. The deadline for SCWC conferees to receive discounted lodging rates is January 26th. For online hotel booking click here, or call the hotel at (619) 297-1101 (and mention the SCWC).
We still have plenty of workshops to add and the schedule to fill out. Check back regularly for updates, and don’t forget to join the WritersConference.COMmunity discussion on our SCWC Facebook page.
In the meanwhile . . . go forth, write well, and Happy New Year!
Michael Steven Gregory
Executive Director, SCWC
First off, congratulations to SCWCer Amanda LaPera. Having attended both our San Diego and Newport Beach events, this past week saw the launch of her compelling Losing Dad, Paranoid Schizophrenia: A Family’s Search for Hope (Adamo Press). A passionate mental health advocate, Amanda’s debut title broke into the top 100 in mental illness in both paperback (#90) and e-book (#59) format on Amazon, as well as #42,951 out of all paperbacks (over 8 million) and #67,130 out of all e-books the day after its release. Of it Xavier Amador, Ph.D. (I am Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help!) declares, “Beautifully woven between the facts are the feelings. [Amanda] shows that behind every severe mental illness there is a human being.” Great job and utterly fascinating story. But wait! There’s yet another recent conference success to report:
LA11 conferee Sandra Montanino. Not only did she score an Outstanding Fiction Award for her historical family saga Of Brick and Salt at this past September’s conference, but two attending agents subsequently offered to represent her. A good, albeit stressful, spot to be in, after protracted deliberation Sandra has finally made her choice and signed on with Babette Sparr of Sparr Literary. It’s a powerful manuscript. Much success to both.
The fourth Special Guest Speaker to be announced is none other than Janis Thomas. A regular SCWC workshop leader, this past September Janis offered up one of the most singularly meatiest workshop morsels that I’ve heard in years. Janis has had a very busy year and a bit, what with the release of her laugh-out-loud debut novel, Something New, in 2012, followed by Sweet Nothings this past summer (“A breezy read,” declared Publishers Weekly), both by Berkely Books. Now, eschewing legacy publication for her latest, a departure from the chick-lit genre she’s known for, Janis is releasing a crime thriller called Murder in A-minor, A Sam Wedlock Musical Murder Mystery, under a pen name. She’ll explain the logic behind the decision at SD28, as well as why telling a woman you like her pants can speak volumes to writers.
Agents-wise, on board so far is Terri Baranowski of Gateway Literary (joining us in an official capacity for the first time so she doesn’t have to lurk undercover in read & critique workshops like so many reps and acquisitions folk sometimes do), Anne Bomke of Bomke Literary, Clelia Gore, who’s heading the newly-launched children’s/YA branch of Martin Literary & Media, Linda Langton of Langtons International Agency, and van Haitsma Literary’s own ever-intrepid founder Sally van Haitsma.
Conducting a workshop both staffers and conferees have emphatically expressed an interest in, Ara Grigorian will address the why’s and how-to’s of using Scrivener, the immensely powerful content-generation software for writers… Richard Craig Anderson is back with a new real-world scenario law enforcement role playing workshop after a couple-year hiatus. His latest novel is Cobra Clearance, a contender for best new thriller of the year…
In a surprising move, given how work-intensive it is, Jean Jenkins will be conducting her wildly popular 2-part “Best Foot Forward: Editing for Success.” Limited to only 12 participants, if you’re writing genre fiction, you do not want to miss this. Along with Drusilla Campbell’s “NovelCram: Building the Better Book,” BFF requires advance sign-up.
As always, several other friends familiar and new will be joining us as we hone in on what specific issues, beyond craft, are most in need to be addressed. As we’ve long observed, between each SCWC event a whole strata of changes in the rapidly morphing publishing world require constant adjustments in thinking and approach. We’ll again be devoting a “Do Yourself Independence” (DYI, not DIY) track specifically geared to bringing all up to speed on the latest strategies and tactics. What we will not be doing is declaring any writer with a Twitter feed or Facebook account an authority on the time suck for most that is social media just because they have one. Speaking of which…
2014 marks the 10th anniversary of our “Storytelling and the Future of Content” event that was SCWC*LA4. Our one and only event held in Manhattan Beach, it’s where we accurately identified the forthcoming technological trends, conceits and opportunities lying just a smidge ahead for writers of the time; introduced them to the concept of transmedia storytelling, of it’s intrinsic value and virtually limitless possibilities. Then we drilled in deeper to explore what then-available tools and strategies could be called upon to better forge the way to success.
We did it long before it became trendy among writers’ conferences. We continued to when it did, but always with our eye on the outer edge of the envelope; the telling crest of the incoming tide.
Several conferees’ first published books came out of that conference, and while preparing to introduce a new iteration of the WritersConference.com website (coming soon), we came across the following copy written for it. An excerpt from our archives, I believed it when I wrote it then. I believe as I read it today. My hope is that you do too.
The world has changed. Or have we changed the world? As writers, change is the very fabric of our existence. As storytellers, our charge is to engage the audience with tales of characters overcoming obstacles that result in purposeful change. Regardless of genre, from international thrillers to intimate portraits of personal transformation, our stories offer visceral validation of who we are, or who we are not, or who we most aspire to be.
Transformational media and the newly modern storyteller is what the [SCWC] is about. The elevated awareness of conscious creativity, coupled by an exponentially expanding transmedia marketplace — from movies and interactive entertainment to graphic novels and print on demand — has afforded writers and media makers today more opportunities to reach the audience of their choice than at any other time. For the committed author whose will is to positively impact lives, to entertain and inspire, to evoke and enthrall with words, these are indeed the best of times…
Taisen Deshimaru once said that:
“Time is not a line, but a series of now points.”
Well the time is now… Now is the time for you to write!
That was back in 2004. Thankfully, how some things never change. Craft matters.
Early “Bard” Discount Registration on Full Conference or NovelCram/Conference attendance is now open. Remember that the SCWC is limited in size to ensure maximum accessibility to staff and attention paid to attending writers.
Still plenty more to announce, including our fifth Special Guest Speaker. Be sure to join the conversation on our SCWC Community Facebook page. Also, enjoy this preview below of the stage adaptation of author/workshop leader Matthew J. Pallamary novel, Land Without Evil, documented by PBS’ “Art in Context” TV show, the episode of which was recently nominated for a Lone Star Emmy Award.
–Michael Steven Gregory
Executive Director, SCWC
Boo! We’re back. Despite considerable technical challenges (addressed below the jump), SD28 is shaping up nicely. Our latest Special Guest Speaker to announce is Laurence O’Bryan, winner of the SCWC*SD21 Outstanding Fiction Award for the manuscript that became his debut international conspiracy thriller, The Istanbul Puzzle, the first in a multi-book deal with HarperCollins UK. The Jerusalem Puzzle followed and now the third in the series, The Manhattan Puzzle, has just been released, along with a special e-book edition that includes interactive links that allow readers to further explore the story beyond its pages. Larry is traveling all the way from his home in Northern Ireland to join us again, and we’re happy to welcome him back.
It’s fitting that this update falls on Halloween. What we thought would be a fairly routine move of the SCWC’s physical offices following September’s LA11 event has turned out to be pretty much a nightmare. For well over a month now we’ve been besieged by ghosts in the machine and gremlins on our wing, all as a result of the move. Picture pretty much every technical problem imaginable and we’ve been tackling it.
While we’re almost fully back online today, only email addressed directly to SCWC directors Wes Albers and Chrissie Barnett is reliable and secure. Michael’s address remains un-functional, though will likely be fixed by next week. Also next week, should all go well, our phone answering system will be properly ported and operational. If you’ve called and left any messages over the past month, there’s a very strong likelihood that we haven’t and cannot retrieve them.
The SCWC prides itself on good communication. We apologize for the breakdown and all frustration it’s causing. Please be patient.
There’s lots more staff announcements to come, along with the opening up of the Advance Submission Readers and posting of the preliminary schedule. In the meantime, be sure to visit us on the SCWC Community Facebook page to keep up to speed and join the conversation.
Following the whirlwind that was last weekend’s LA11 event, we now begin the countdown to our winter conference, SD28. Our second Special Guest Speaker to be announced is Bhava Ram, formerly known as NBC war correspondent Brad Willis, whom at the peak of his journalistic career suffered a broken back and failed surgery leaving him permanently disabled and condemned to life in a body brace. Worse, then came a diagnosis of terminal, stage IV throat cancer. Bhava’s new memoir, Warrior Pose, chronicles his remarkable personal transformation following a decision to abandon Western medicine and embrace the most esoteric practices of Yoga, ultimately leading to a fully restored spine and cancer-free recovery.
Among the many workshop leaders confirmed for February are Frederick Ramsay, whose latest Ike Schwartz mystery, Drowning Barbie, is out just before the conference; fantastical YA author Mary G. Thompson (Escape from the Pipe Men and next year’s Evil Fairies Love Hair); writer provocateur Judy Reeves; historical fictionalist Laurel Corona; paranormal romance author Linda Thomas-Sundstrom; horror writer Mark Clements; transformative narrative guru Matthew J. Pallamary; celebrated author and editorial consultant Laura Taylor and many, many others.
We’re happy to report that NY Times bestselling author Drusilla Campbell will also be returning with another round of NovelCram: Building the Better Book. As usual, this stand-alone immersive track is limited in attendance and will likely sell out.
There’s several agents aboard, along with some of our favorite, trusted editors. We’ll start rolling them out next update.
Along with our formidable slate of craft, execution and troubleshooting workshops, at SD28 we’ll again be dealing head-on with many of the latest and most vexing challenges writers face today. Whether to wait out legacy publishing odds, go with a boutique house, trust one of the predatory pay-as-you-print outfits that claim to have “standards” and are “selective” about who they’ll publish, or just assume full, entrepreneurial control of your book, no matter which way you go at the end of the day your book’s success will ultimately come down to one individual. You.
To that end, the SCWC community is here to inform and assist in accomplishing your publishing goals. Expanding on our previous “Do Yourself Independence” sessions, we’ll again be dealing extensively with issues of premature e-publication, social media self-sabotage, marketing myths and more. True, it will be work. And yes, it will be worth it. Why aim for mediocrity when you can settle for exceptional?
The follow up to SCWC Outstanding Fiction Award winner Laurence O’Brien’s The Istanbul Puzzle and The Jerusalem Puzzle is out Oct. 10 from HarperCollins. The Manhattan Puzzle promises yet another smart, international conspiracy thriller in the vein of Dan Brown. There’s also going to be a special e-book available with the story’s locations linked to an inline map and other background information… And this just in from conferee Barbara Garren: a 3-book deal with Entranced Publishing. Way to go!
Advance Submission Reader selection will open up late October. As there’s much more to announce while we begin working on the schedule, finalizing the Special Guest Speakers and adding more workshop leaders, be sure to check back often and join us on the SCWC Community Facebook page to keep up to speed.
The $75 Early “Bard” Discount on Full Conference or NovelCram/Conference registration is now open. Registrations are up a little higher than usual this far out, so keep it in mind. In the meantime, enjoy our latest book trailer, this one created for Darlene Quinn’s most recent release.