“If you want to promote your book don’t sell it.” That’s fast becoming an axiom on the Internet, as many authors are discovering. Endeavor to spam walls and blogs with repetitive pitches for your book(s) instead of genuinely interacting with the community and you can find yourself easily ignored, your email address blocked and, you even entirely “un-friended!”
The writer-reader relationship–particularly the potential book buying reader relationship–is a tricky thing. Community is not an “I,” it is a “we.” Being mindful of the distinction is key to raising awareness of your platform and fostering positive, popular support for your work. Author, tribal writer and social media provocateur Justine Musk, an early proponent of the potential power of social media for indie creatives of all ilk, returns to the SCWC to discuss how she does it so well and how might you.
In fact, we’ve got a number of SD26 workshops devoted to understanding and managing the varying online tools available to authors who, as addressed in our Jan. 3rd “Latest News” update, should really be focused on writing.
Though the advance submission deadline has passed, several readers are caught up and remain open for at least another week. This includes ZOVA Books Editor-in-Chief Daniel J. Silva–just added to the schedule–Maralys Wills, Andrew Wetzel, Marla Miller and Mike Sirota. For all others, please email Michael to ensure availability.
Another staff addition, joining us for the first time, attorney Martin S. Rudoy, who’s handling the estate of the woman found hanged, naked, bound and gagged in the famed Spreckels Mansion in Coronado last year. Marty is also a screenwriter and will address working with lawyers and using the law to bolster the believability of legal-based scenes and stories.
On the good “muse” front, a couple of things to report. Author/workshop leader Mike Sirota, who’ll be conducting the “To Outline Your Story or Not?” workshop, has his latest coming out this month. The Burning Ground (jacket above), “a chilling novel of vengeful spirits,” launches from ZOVA Books with a party starting 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 16th at Mysterious Galaxy bookstore in San Diego . . . And NovelCram track leader Drusilla Campbell’s latest, Little Girl Lost (Grand Central Publishing) is now out to stellar reviews. Among them, today’s San Diego Union-Tribune. Good job, Mike and Dru.
The online schedule has been updated as of today. There’ll continue to be tweaks, as usual, but be assured it’s getting close.
Celebrated New York Times bestseller T. Jefferson Parker, one of crime fiction’s most critically acclaimed and award-winning writers continues “the most ground-breaking crime series in decades,” (St. Louis Post- Dispatch) with today’s release of his latest, The Jaguar (Dutton), another gripping tale of the Mexican border. Jeff will tell us all about it as our Saturday evening Special Guest Speaker. Sunday afternoon’s Special Guest Speaker has also been confirmed, only in this case we’re going to keep it close to the vest as to who it is. Rest assured, however, that this author’s personal journey will inspire & entertain, and through special arrangement, pre-release editions of the author’s new book will be available exclusively to SD26 conferees… Another confirmation just in, author and excessively popular SCWC workshop leader/reader Marayls Wills returns–possibly even with a new book.
From Martin Literary Management, agent Andrew Wetzel will be joining us. Looking to expand his list, he’s seeking quality male-centric fiction and non-fiction in a variety of genres… Agent Babette Sparr’s bio page is now up-to-date. She’s interested in a pretty broad swath of genres as well, spanning literary and upmarket commercial fiction to women’s fiction, mystery and narrative non-fiction.
Good “muse” from two more veteran SCWC conferees. SD21 Best Fiction Award winner Laurence O’Bryan’s The Istanbul Puzzle (Harper Collins UK) launches with a big release party in Dublin on Jan. 18th, coinciding with worldwide participation on Twitter. And SCWCer Marci Nault reports that she has signed with Simon & Schuster. Her novel, retitled “The Lake House,” will be out Spring of 2013. Congratulations to you both!
Fast approaching crunch time, writers. Deadlines to keep in mind are as follows:
The schedule currently posted on the site is only a working draft. As usual a month out from the conference, much tweaking will take place over the next few weeks. The nearer we get to SD26, the closer to the final schedule it will resemble.
Much more soon.
Happy New Year, writers! With 2012’s arrival comes further rEvolution in the publishing industry. Despite the fundamental shakeups in brick & mortar monetization, diminishing hardcopy distribution channels, the “liberation” of authors from legacy press via Smashwords, Kindle, Nook, Scribd, et al, plus the ubiquitous social media hype insisting writers do what, for most, routinely yields only misguided efforts of “platform building,” few book sales and even fewer precious hours to actually plunk ass in chair and write–one affirmation from nearly every front still holds true. What is that singular, irrefutable, truth? What is unquestionably that one lone, immutable fact? It is this: A story that sucks sucks equally as much in any form it’s published. We’re going to deal with that come February.
Writers write. Writers finish what they write then rewrite it until it’s really finished. And once what they’ve written is really, really finished they go write something else to finish. Somewhere in the middle of all this is the hardest work: selling what you’ve written. On Jan. 3, 2011, I posted the following in this space, electing to re-post it here today because it remains true and I don’t like re-wording a post just to conceal having already addressed the issue:
[O]ne thing we can all agree on is that the Internet has come of age in such a way as to fundamentally change the way publishers, agents, authors and readers relate to one another. The old days of doing book-business are done, this the modern author knows. Thing is, how to fully exploit the potential afforded by all the social media buzzwords being bandied about to truly maximize (and monetize) the modern author’s work?
A turning point has occurred, a sea change if you will, a sweeping, virtual tsunami of such immutable fury that the modalities of traditional publishing have suffered a full-on fiscal wedgie the likes of which it’s never known.
The Era of the Modern Author has arrived. Today is the writer’s day. Today is your time. And the modern author doesn’t have time to waste. Yet, wasting time on ineffectual marketing efforts that do not translate directly into book sales is what far too many authors today are doing.
While the prospects for launching a book by a new author successfully are now perhaps greater than at any other time, the challenges of doing so are many; the decision to go Big Six, indie press, self-publish, e-book, then wrestle the various aspects uniquely inherent to each, are myriad.
Unfortunately, today publishers expect you to do the work for them. For the most part they print the book while relying on you, the writer, to sell the book. Will you? Can you? Should you?
Online, it’s about eyeballs. From provocative book trailers and author profile videos to dynamic personal websites and global social networks, readers everywhere plant their eyes on the Internet to discover new authors, mingle with up-and-coming authors, or simply stay informed about the progress of a cherished author’s next book.
Landing those eyeballs on your book can make all the difference between breakout success or a swift dip in the remainders bin. For the modern author, falling victim to much of the hype surrounding “platform” building and “branding” can result in a time-suck of such magnitude that finishing a next book, let alone successfully launching the current one, may seem impossible.
In February, we’re going to drill through a lot of the noise out there in effort to clearly identify and understand the options available to the modern author, the risks involved in choosing one manner of publication over another, what truly matters in establishing a platform and the building blocks to do so, the reality of e-books, and, ultimately, how to better utilize your time in order to get back to what’s most important: writing.
While in February, yes, we’re drilling in deep again to address these issues, with particular emphasis on revealing ways authors can strategize more smartly and implement winning, time-conservation tactics for building their online profile & viability, Wes and I and many on staff are getting back to where we belong. That is being quality storytellers, storytellers whose work warrants being paid for, storytellers whose work that readers invest in doesn’t piss their readers off so much by sucking that they actually end up losing readers.
Word gets around. The $1.99 price point won’t save you (especially if your book jacket blows, but we’ll let a workshop deal with that issue).
A quality writer aspires to being the best, most rewarding writer for a reader that one can possibly be. A quality writer is not one who spews unpolished, poorly edited, uninspired prose that time and again fail to deliver on expectations roused in the reader. The most sly, clever marketing, “branding,” can’t conceal a story that sucks. Even at $1.99, fail to rise to the level of professional storytelling that I expect from you as a reader, and you’ll likely never get another penny out of me. Also, it’s quite likely I will “unfriend” and “ignore” you.
Evolution. Exciting times in the book world, as we all well know. Rolling with the changes, especially for the debut authors, can be particularly rollicksome. Authors long established–cutting their bones, say, in the early ’90s or before, are seldom up to speed on the realities authors trying to break in today must deal with. What’s cool is those that are making it happen and can report from the trenches on how they did so. Cathy Lubenski, former career journalist and author of Trashy Chic, her debut novel (check the jacket out up top), will be joining us as a Special Guest Speaker… Also on the forward thinking, evolutionary front is Beattie B. Youngs. The author of some 36 books translated into 28 languages, a Pulitzer Prize nominee and all-around, genuinely human being, empowered by a profound faith in and admiration of writing that matters, Bettie became a publisher a few years ago and has been going gangbusters. With high-profile clients and authors anew in her house, she’ll be joining us as a Special Guest Speaker, as well as conducting a workshop… Frederick Ramsay returns, this time as a workshop leader and Special Guest Speaker. Fred’s success as a novelist began as a conferee at one of our first SCWC*LA events. That manuscript became his debut novel Artscape, the first in his popular Ike Schwartz mystery series which debuted in 2006. In February The Eighth Veil: A Jerusalem Mystery, his 10th book in five years, is out from Perfect Niche. He’ll tell us all about how he writes so much, so well, so fast, at the conference.
Lots of staff added to the schedule these past few weeks, so be sure to check ’em out. Given the typical lapse in December updates, the Early “Bard” Discount has been extended to Jan. 15. Also, the “Write Your Life Story in 150 Words” contest has been extended until Sunday afternoon of the conference. Apparently, word’s not getting out on that, so total fail on our part. My fault. Will make it up.
Much more soon.
Award-winning author Darlene Quinn, whose Webs of Power evolved from one of our Palm Springs events, introduced SCWCers to the third novel in the series, Webs of Fate, at LA9. We just finished the trailer for the book, so be sure to check it out and pass along the link to your entire social network. High-fashion. Deception. Killer heels–Oh, how we miss the days of Dallas, Dynasty, Knot’s Landing, and Falcon Crest! And be sure to check out SCWC*TV to hear what Darlene has to say about writing page-turning suspense.
Advance Submission Readers are now available for selection. If you’ve already registered and selected readers “to be announced,” email Michael or Chrissie directly the name of the reader(s) you’d like to go with, and also include a backup reader. Should you need guidance selecting the appropriate reader for your material, please let us know.
More staff has been added to the schedule since last update, including author Orna Ross (Lover’s Hallow, A Dance in Time), who’ll joining us for the first time all the way from London. Having worked for 25 years in journalism and publishing, Orna will conduct a session called “Creative Intelligence for the Creative Age,” in which she’ll discuss how now is a time of unprecedented opportunity for writers to reach readers by contrasting the writing world pre- and post- digital. And in particular, what creative qualities writers need to develop in themselves so they are well equipped to meet the challenges of our time. Sounds like a session no entrepreneurial author will want to miss.
Don’t forget about the previous update at the bottom of the page if you missed it as the “Life Story” writing contest is in full swing. Special Guest Speakers and more still to be announced, so check back soon.
Forgot to share some good “muse” in the previous update, but it’s never too late to celebrate. Two-time San Diego conferee Barbara Marshak’s Michigan and Rookie: Guardians of the Night was published September by Beaver’s Pond Press. The true story of K9 Officer Joaquin Guerrero and his German shepherd partner Rookie, the book is told from the POV of its K9 hero, chronicling Rookie’s unwavering service at Ground Zero, and his impact with hundreds of thousands of school kids across Mid-Michigan. This makes for Barbara’s second published book, following Hidden Heritage: The Story of Paul LaRoche, an inspiring biography of the award-winning Native American recording artist, Brulé. And this just in, SD/LA conferee Benjamin More reports that his short story, “Entangled Souls,” appears in Dark Moon Digest’s upcoming special edition anthology: Ghosts. Good job to you both! Speaking of good “muse”…
Longtime SCWC staffer Drusilla Campbell’s Honor and Glory, in which a female Marine resumes her life after returning from Iraq with PTSD, just sold to Grand Central in a two-book deal, for publication in 2012. Drusilla, of course, will again be conducting her popular NovelCram track in February. Other workshop leaders now slated for SD26 include authors Mark Clements, Deborah Halverson, Lois Joy Hofmann, Ken Kuhlken, Sylvia Mendoza, Matthew J. Pallamary, Judy Reeves, Mike Sirota, and Laura Taylor. Web developer and online marketing strategist Jeremy Lee James returns, along with entertainment attorney Mark I. Reichenthal and N.S. Bienstock literary agent, Paul Fedorko.
Advance Submission Readers selection will open up in the next week or so. As there’s plenty more to announce while we begin working on the schedule, lining up the Special Guest Speakers, and adding more workshop leaders, be sure to check back often or join us on the SCWC .COMmunity Facebook page to stay up to speed.
And while submission to the Reader’s Digest “Write Your Life Story in 150 Words” contest on Facebook is now closed, the SCWC’s contest remains open. Write your life story, or some pivotal aspect of your life, as a self-contained story in 150 words or less and you’ll be in the running to win a Kindle eBook reader or Full Conference registration package (your choice of San Diego or Newport Beach). Use the Contact Us form on the right and be sure to put “Life Story Contest” in the subject line. Paste your name in the body along with your story and story’s title. The SCWC contest deadline for submission is December 31, 2011.
While there are gobs of SD26 workshop leaders to be announced over the coming months, to whet your insatiable appetite for all things SCWC, here’s a little taste of who’ll be with us come February. On the authors side of things, Kirsten Imani Kasai is back. Tattoo (Del Rey), the follow up to her debut novel, Ice Song, is just out and warrants an immediate read. Publishers Weekly calls it, “lushly erotic while remaining aware of the costs of addiction and self-indulgence.” And National Book Critics Circle member Paul Goat Allen hails, “Lyrical, forlorn, dreamlike, and, at times, painfully passionate… Tattoo is essentially deeply philosophical and poetic contemplation cloaked in visionary science fiction.” And check out that jacket! Look who else will be with us:
Historical fictionalist Laurel Corona returns. Finding Emilie (Gallery Books), set in 1749 France, is her latest. Of it, Publishers Weekly raves, “Corona brings a changing world, peopled with fascinating historical figures like Diderot and Voltaire, to vibrant life.” While Catherine Delors (For the King) calls it simply, “A remarkable novel”… Ernessa T. Carter, whose wonderfully entertaining 32 Candles evolved from her SCWC*LA6-award winning manuscript for Outstanding Fiction, will be with us (be sure to watch the excerpt of her keynote appearance at LA8 below)…
Author/artist/journalist Gregg Gutierrez joins us for the first time. Now in its ninth printing, his collection of short stories, Zen and the Art of Surfing, was called by Writer’s Digest, “infectious…spellbinding.” “His work is mythological,” proclaimed the San Diego Union Tribune … After a couple-conference hiatus, Frederick Ramsay is back. The seventh book in his popular, critically acclaimed Ike Schwartz mystery series, Rogue, is now out from Poisoned Pen Press … Due to a scheduling conflict, Andrew Peterson (Forced to Kill), has been rotated from our LA9 event to SD26. (Wherever we get him, we’re just glad we got him.)
Agents wise, those coming to SD26 include Marisa Iozzi Corvisiero of L. Perkins Agency, Kristin Miller of D4EO Literary, Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyon Literary and Jon Sternfeld, from Irene Goodman Literary. More, of course, to be announced.
While we hope to see you next month in Newport Beach, remember that the place to be come winter is San Diego. Follow us on Twitter (@SCWriters) or friend us on Facebook to keep up to speed on issues of writerly interest, including free eBook notifications, pertinent publishing news, overall good “muse,” and .COMmunity submissions to the Reader’s Digest “Your Life…” writing contest. You or a writer you vote for could get published and win up to $25,000. If you post your own story, be sure to email Michael or Chrissie the link so we can post it.