Celebrated journalist and author Caitlin Rother returns with her latest. Chronicling the true story behind the rape and murder of two San Diego area teenagers by a previously convicted sociopath, the Los Angeles Times calls Lost Girls, “a deeply reported, dispassionately written attempt to determine what created that monster and predator. It is a cautionary tale and a horror story, done superbly by a writer who knows how to burrow into a complex case without becoming captive to her sources.”
Two of Caitlin’s other books were ranked in True Crime Book Review’s Top 10 True Crime Books of 2011: Dead Reckoning and Deadly Devotion, which she co-authored with Alysia Sofios. Where most writers conjure up fictional criminals and fabricate a story, Caitlin, a Pulitzer nominee, looks unflinchingly into the eyes of madness and writes to the core of those impacted by it.
Still lots of massaging to be done to February’s schedule, but plenty of workshops are now plugged in to specifically address the most crucial concerns of writers today. Among some of the newer, necessary sessions added are former globe-trotting federal agent Michael R. Shevock’s “Going Foreign: Wtg. the Reality of Diplomatic Service,” which, as he’s proven in the past, will no doubt make your head explode. Novelist Janis Thomas introduces “What’s Driving You? Plot vs. Character in Writing Fiction”–an especially important one because too many allow their books to derail simply by not understanding the difference.
Given the massive explosion in popularity of all things paranormal romance, Linda Thomas-Sundstrom’s dubuting “Romancing the Monster and Keeping It Real.” And on the “Do Yourself Independence” front, Marla Miller’s “Your Author Bio, Media Copy and PR Package” will be a must-attend as I can’t even begin to tell you how authors, regardless of how they’re published, undermine their credibility and opportunities by not bothering or not knowing how to do this.
Quick round up of recent SCWC success… ZOVA Books reports that SCWC director Wes Albers’ debut novel, Black & White, is the house’s first bestseller on iTunes in the police procedurals category. Guess that kind’ve make Wes a rockstar… After a too-long of break, Alan Russell’s latest, Burning Man, has broken through the Amazon Author Bestseller List (top 100 Kindle sales) and climbed to number eight… Stacey O’Brien reports that her wonderfully engaging, international sensation, Wesley The Owl (discovered at our LA4 event), is now officially a longterm “superstar backlister” for publisher Free Press. Talk about the little book that could… And, finally, NY Times bestseller and NovelCram instructor Drusilla Campbell just signed yet another multi-book deal with Grand Central. Good job, everybody!
Still lots to do with whipping SD27 into maximum muscle. Over recent weeks, however, many have expressed interest to point out the following resources in the conference run-up:
Story trumps hype. Good stories populated by vividly rendered characters confronting increasingly harrowing circumstances are what makes for quality reads, regardless of genre. A story well told will sell. Question is, for what price, in which format, to how many and by whom?
In this digital era, arguably the most liberating for authors of all ilk who are now no longer exclusively beholden to legacy publishing gate keepers or ridiculously over-priced vanity press “services” outfits such as those made infamous by Author Solutions and its associated writer-bilking outliers, questions abound. Perhaps the biggest: Should you pursue the traditional route to publication–get an agent, find a house, wait a year or more after to see your book in print–or should you just go it alone?
With the further consolidation of the Big Six legacy houses reliant on tent pole franchise titles, celebrity non-fiction and political provocateurs who can all but guarantee sales through Super PAC purchase-giveaways, the growth of legitimate, though often brick and mortar distribution deprived indie presses and proliferation of self-published e-book authors, the publishing paradigm we grew up understanding has fundamentally changed. Perhaps forever.
As there’s no single right way to write a great book–only an infinite number of wrong ways–the same can also be said of choosing which path to take to publication. It so often seems that achieving publishing success today is as utterly dependent on being an entrepreneurial dynamo as much as, if not more so, being a good writer that many buy into the ease and speed with which they can self-publish an e-book and do just that. But just because you can doesn’t mean you should. At least not until your book is ready. And being ready starts with story, craft and execution. What myriad other crucial factors those considering self-publication must take into account, even for only screen reads, is where “The End” marks a pivotal new start. In particular, with novels and narrative non-fiction.
While our “Do Yourself Independence” track will address many crucial considerations come February (possibly including a session we’re calling, “Cutting Through the Considerable Crap: How to Legitimize the Self-published E-book Author”) we’re still sticking with the fundamental principals on which the SCWC was founded: Story matters. Craft matters. Voice matters. Feedback matters. Writers matter.
Despite the lowered expectations of forgiving consumers accustomed to lackluster, poorly edited and ultimately unrewarding e-books, fact remains that word-of-mouth advocacy is the No. 1 means of books coming to the attention of and being bought by strangers. The discerning reader recognizes a smart, rewarding, quality read. That reader then becomes the writer’s most important, passionate advocate. Why? Because a good story well told trumps all the social media and advertising hype.
Poorly written books that breakout big and become international blockbuster sensations are the unexpected exception, not the rule. The writer who aims for mediocrity and settles for suck, let alone e-“publishes” it then elects to dump its availability on social media feeds without having the courtesy to wipe afterward, is a writer destined to failure.
Literary agents Angelina Rinaldi and Marisa Corvisiero have been added to the slate. Both will be accepting advance submissions from those interested. Those electing to go with optional Advance Submission Readers need to get their material to the SCWC by no later than Jan. 12, 2013. As usual, there’ll be some readers that get caught up and accept material after that date. Too early to tell right now.
For those planning to stay at the home of the conference–and given that we often have workshops going into the very wee hours of the morning, it’s recommended–the wonderful Crowne Plaza San Diego resort hotel is providing SCWCers discounted lodging through Jan. 15, 2013. Book your room before the deadline else risk getting hit with the full rate.
Since last update, a bunch of SCWCers have book announcements. Workshop leader Darlene Quinn’s fourth title in her award-winning “Webs” series is out May, 2013. Author C.E. Lawrence (the “Silent” thrillers) blurbs, “From cocky cougars to perceptive private eyes, Unpredictable Webs is filled with enough vivid characters and plot twists to keep any lover of the genre happily turning the pages into the wee hours of the night. If you enjoyed Darlene Quinn’s previous books, you won’t want to miss this juicy journey of intrigue, drama and suspense!” (Check out the jacket up top.)
Author/workshop leader Janis Thomas, whose spirited debut novel Something New came out from Berkley last month, just got the jacket art for its follow up, Sweet Nothings, due July, 2013. As a former Nordstrom ladies shoes dog of the Seventies, I must say, “Like!”
Author, travel writer and serial entrepreneur Lois Joy Hofmann, who’ll be conducting the appropriately titled DYI workshop, “Author as Entrepreneur,” has released the second in her lavishly produced “In Search of Adventure and Moments of Bliss” trilogy chronicling she and her husband’s 8-year, 62-country sailing circumnavigation. Sailing the South Pacific is available now from PIP.
Finally, conferee August McLaughlin’s debut thriller is just out. Pulitzer Prize-Winning journalist and author David Freed calls In Her Shadow, “A dark, crackingly good psychological thriller that grabs you by the throat on page one and never lets up.”
The working schedule is being updated almost daily, but do make a point to join the WritersConference.COMmunity confab on our SCWC Facebook page for stuff not necessarily on the site.
Two months out and there’s plenty to report. For starters, following last month’s irksome online registration glitch, our main administrative computer got hit with multiple trojans that pretty much knocked out all SCWC hard drives, the office phone system and fax. It’s taken nearly two weeks to get everything sorted out, but now we’re back up and running so let’s see where we’re at!
Among the many staff additions to SD27, best-selling non-fictionalist Charmaine Hammond returns to the SCWC. Her latest, GPS Your Best Life: Charting Your Destination and Getting There in Style, written with Debra Kasowski, is just out. Mary Vensel White is back with a new session and some good “muse.” You’ll remember, of course, that her The Qualities of Wood was the first ebook published by HarperCollins Publishers digital imprint, Authonomy. The debut novel has done so well in digital form that HarperCollins will be publishing the hardcopy next year.
Amazon’s #1 best-selling children’s author Sheri Fink, whose precious The Little Rose and The Little Gnome are still going gangbusters, is back with yet another overwhelmingly informative workshop on successfully navigating the digital/hardcopy divide. And in her debut appearance at the SCWC as a workshop leader, Valerie Wicks, an LA10 conferee and debut YA fantasy indie author who recently organized a very successful book signing event for both her and Sheri at L.A.’s biggest Barnes & Noble, will be conducting “Up Close and Visual: Breaking Down Author/Reader Barriers.” The first in a 7-part series, be sure to check out the trailer for Seven Spectral: Into the Red World at the bottom of this update.
Speaking of the LA10 event, given the success of our “Do Yourself Independence” track this past September we’ll be devoting a tier of sessions to the SD27 schedule that can further allow those pursuing such to dig in deeper. As we introduced it back in August:
“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.
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!
We’re putting together some very cool, new DYI workshops for you and look forward to rolling them out over the next few weeks.
Longtime and lauded SCWCer Claudia Whitsitt’s Identity Issues is just out from Blue Jay Media, who’ve contracted the first two of five proposed titles in her Samantha Series mysteries. Pretty cool jacket, don’t you think?… And check out the jacket for LA10 Outstanding Non-Fiction award-winner Sharon L. Hicks’ How Do You Grab a Naked Lady?: A Memoir.
Many more Advance Submission Readers have been added to the schedule are now available for selection, including agents, editors and authors, with still a few more yet to come. 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.
Another update coming soon. Don’t forget to join the WritersConference.COMmunity confab on our SCWC Facebook page.
We’re in store for another wild weekend of all things writerly come February. What with the recent news about Amazon’s reviews purge, the ramifications of Penguin and Random House merging, eBook sales dominating the table talk, and 2012 book sales in general possibly reaching north of $8 billion–despite slippage in some rather surprising genres–storytelling about storytellers seems as popular as storytellers telling stories. That said, the challenge for most writers remains the same: beyond writing a great book that rewards readers with a rich read, how do you raise awareness of your book and get readers to buy it?
Along with our formidable slate of craft, execution and troubleshooting workshops, as with our fall conference, at SD27 we’ll 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 control of your book and do it all yourself–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, as always, the SCWC community is here to inform and assist you in accomplishing your publishing goals. Extending on our LA10 “Do Yourself Independence” sessions, we’ll again be dealing extensively with issues of ePublishing too soon, social media self-sabotage, marketing myths and a whole lot more. It will be work. It will be fun.
While we still have plenty more staffers yet to announce, several already aboard for San Diego have new books in time for the holidays. From Janis Thomas, her debut novel Something New is out today. Next week, Matthew J. Pallamary’s latest, The Infinity Zone: A Transcendent Approach to Peak Performance, will be released. And come December, the latest Peri Minneopa Mystery from Gayle Carline, The Hot Mess, and a long-awaited new one from none other than Alan Russell, Burning Man. Congratulations to all.
It’s been brought to our attention that well over a dozen online registrations were never actually processed (nor their credit cards charged) since late-October. The glitch is now fixed. If you registered online for the conference over the past three weeks and are unsure of whether or not your registration was processed successfully, please contact either Michael or Chrissie for confirmation.
We apologize for the inconvenience and have extended the $75 Early “Bard” Discount to until Nov. 15th.
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 Wall to keep up to speed.
In the meantime, enjoy the trailer we just finished for another friend of the conference’s new book.