Happy New Year, writers! With the arrival of 2011 one 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.
Due to some lingering technical issues the preliminary schedule has not yet been posted, but you can still see the growing variety of sessions slated for SD25 by clicking on individual staff bios. Should have the glitch fixed by week’s end. The phone answering system issue, too.
On the additions front, longtime SCWC workshop leader and genre author/editor Mike Sirota will be with us in a fresh capacity come February: special guest speaker. (That’s the cover of his new book up top.) Only 17 years after the publication of his last sci-fi novel, Mike returns to the genre with his latest, Fire Dance, out February from Zova. Of it Publishers Weekly declares, “Horror fans will enjoy this updated take on the western ghost town.” Good job, Mike!
Making his sophomore appearance at the SCWC, provocative author/poet/nonfictionalist Linton Robinson will be with us. Early on forward, Lin’s had great success seizing author opportunities in the digital age from the DIY perspective. Along with the guys from Behind the Book, web developer & marketing strategist Jeremy Lee James, and many others plying the ether, much will be covered on the digital front.
Registrations are unusually high at this time. What this affirms to us is that you, the writer, understand that now is the time to make time for your work. Whether a matter of validation of purposeful being, or simply to tell a good story, 2011 is the year in which your work must be the top priority. Your story matters. Together, this year, let’s let you shine.
Couple of final things. We have a female conferee looking for a roommate to split hotel lodging costs from Friday through Monday checkout. Please email Michael if you’re interested. She’s a good gal and a pretty accomplished writer in her own right . . . Also, we need to determine the interest level in both the PoetryCram and Jean Jenkins’ “Best Foot Forward” sessions. Both are limited in size, so please email us if you’re intent on participating in either.
Come February, for 25 years the SCWC will have empowered writers with the vital tools, information, feedback and connections needed to get published. The latest to join the roster of success is SD23 conferee Tim (T.B.) Smith. His debut novel, The Sticking Place, is out December from Hellgate Press. And SD21/22 conferee Pam Goldstein reports braving short stories since her last attendance, getting several published in five different anthologies, including Chicken Soup for the Empty Nester and this year’s Christmas books (Simon and Schuster). Also, her first play, The Interview, opens in April. Writes Pam, “Whenever I falter I think of the SD with great fondness and go from there.”
The Hummingbird Review has announced a winner of the LA8 “What if?” writing contest. E. Scott Menter of Irvine, CA, will see his short story, “Dolphinarium,” published in the literary quarterly. Another submission, a non-fiction piece by Kelly Thacker of Murray, UT, also struck the attention of publisher Charles Redner and managing editor Robert Yehling, so much so they’re publishing it as well. Both stories will appear in the next issue, out February. Congratulations Scott and Kelly!
Lots of additions to the SD25 staff, including Stephens Press editor-in-chief Carolyn Hayes Uber, who’ll be joining us for the first time. Still a few more to announce, including our final special guest speaker, but do check out the staff page to see who all are presently confirmed. While we now begin filling out the schedule with actual workshops, new to the SCWC is the PoetryCram alluded to last update. Limited to 12 participants, this 1-day intensive is dedicated to those wanting to publish a collection of poetry in professional chapbook form.
Another seriously hands-on session limited to 12 participants is Jean Jenkins’ Best Foot Forward: Polishing To Impress 1 & 2. Quite the success when it debuted in September, Jeanie’s made some slight tweaks to make it even better than before. If you’re a genre writer and feel your work’s ready to go, get full details here.
That’s all for now. If you’re in town December 10th, don’t forget to join us and San Diego Writers, Ink for Mark A. Clements Appreciation Night.
Hailing from film & TV as a writer/director, he’s turned to writing books for needed spiritual (and cerebral) balance. A best-selling ghost writer for Random House/Harmony Books, under his own name Eric DelaBarre’s latest, Saltwater Taffy, is a lushly illustrated, hardcover young adult novel following the exploits of five kids who uncover a treasure map once belonging to the ruthless New Orleans pirate Jean Lafitte. Due out January from Seven Publishing, already the book’s being hailed by Teachers of the Year around the country. Also the author of the inspiring Why Not: Start Living Your Life Today, Eric joins us Sunday evening to discuss his own journey to publishing — and personal — success…
Plenty other familiar friends added to the staff as of late, so be sure to check it out. More to come, of course, including agents, editors, authors, and — hopefully — one especially guest speaker many of us know. What’s on our collective mind at the moment, however, are two things:
Turns out we’re going to have a 1-day Poetry Cram at SD25 — woo-hoo! Details soon.
On the heels of winning yet another award for his debut novel, America Libre, this time First Place in the Books Into Movies Awards from Latino Literacy, author Raul Ramos y Sanchez returns with its controversial sequel, House Divided. Out January, Raul is now very much in full swing with a sustained marketing campaign he built from scratch, and that has already greatly contributed to his publication success. Come February he and his agent, Sally van Haitsma, will walk you through the essentials of public relations, branding, social media and direct marketing to get your own work noticed…
It seems everything today is about writers needing to have an online platform to be taken seriously in the publishing world. Thing is, most writers would much rather be writing than devoting incalculable hours to social networking that may not result in a single book sale. Writers must manage their time efficiently. What works, what doesn’t, and how to win not just “friends” online, but book buyers, is what SCWC webmaster and popular workshop leader Jeremy Lee James addresses at JeremyLeeJames.com. Resulting greatly from feedback gleaned from his multiple appearances at the conference, there’s plenty of great information there, including this new series of articles, “A Workflow For Writers To (Mostly) Automate Their Social Media Strategy.”
By the way, many who attended LA8 expressed interest in Jeremy’s new service for writers who want a super-simple, affordable way to launch and maintain a high quality website. It’s now up and running at Write Click Hosting.
More SD25 staffers to announce. The first of the agents confirmed include Sandra Dijkstra Literary’s Jill Marr, Sally van Haitsma (van Haitsma Literary), and Elizabeth Winick Rubinstein (senior agent, McIntosh & Otis). Authors Judy Reeves, Laura Taylor and Robert Yehling are back, as is freelance editor and genre guru Jean Jenkins. Still plenty more to announce as we start rounding out the schedule. Don’t forget to email us any specific topic suggestions you’d like to see addressed in February.
Finally, on the good “muse” front: Indy Quillen, recipient of the SCWC*LA8 Award for Outstanding Fiction, only a month after September’s conference has signed with Paul Fedorko of powerhouse agency N.S. Bienstock. Paul had requested the full manuscript (as did two other agents) after review of its initial pages during advance submission critique. Way to go, Indy! Only a matter of time now.
Making her first appearance at the SCWC, author Linda Thomas-Sundstrom, whose sexually charged paranormal romances include Silhouette Nocturne’s wildly popular Wolf Moons and upcoming Vampire Moons series of novels and novellas, will be addressing all things gothic in one of the most wildly popular genres of the day. Wolf Trap is her most recent and, yes, she’s a Buffy fan. We’ve wanted her for a long, she’s got plenty of insight to offer, and we’re especially thrilled to have her. Also newly aboard…
Following a couple-year hiatus due to his hectic journalistic obligations schedule, Thomas Larson is back. Author of The Memoir and the Memoirist — a must-read for all writers crafting a “modern memoir” — The Saddest Music Ever Written: The Story of Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” (Pegasus Books) is his latest. A finalist for the Barnes & Noble Fall “Discover” Award, the book provides an in-depth study of one of the most iconic, deeply resonant nine minutes of music ever written, and the young genius behind them.
Jim Hitt, noted film & literature monographer, essayist, short story writer, novelist, educator, and former conferee, is aboard to conduct read & critique workshops and a much-needed “Merging Style and Substance” session. His latest is Carny, A Novel in Stories (Aberdeen Bay Press).
As versatile as ever, genre-skipping novelist Michele Scott returns. From her popular Wine Lover’s Mystery and Equine Mystery series to young adult adventure such as Zamora’s Ultimate Challenge, and her latest, the sweeping narco-family epic El Patron, the exceptionally entrepreneurial Michele plies the craft and works the trade equally well at every level.
Still much, much more to announce, including additional workshop leaders, agents, editors, special guest speakers, advance submission readers and more. For those who register early and select optional advance submission readers, select “TBA” (to be announced), the list of readers will be up early November. Once posted, simply email the conference with your specific choice(s).
As we begin building out the schedule over the next few weeks, updates will appear frequently to reflect where we’re at (subscribe to our RSS feed to not miss one). Where you are at next Presidents’ Day Weekend is what matters now. Though it might be tough to picture this far out, that’s in the winter. And where better to be a writer in winter than in San Diego? Imagine what little will you could wear!
Until next update, here’s some timeless advice from author Ernessa T. Carter (32 Candles), one of our special guest speakers at last month’s LA8:
“A reality TV show lands on the last fragment of a primordial supercontinent, where life has evolved separately for 600 million years.” Such is the premise of Warren Fahy’s bestselling debut action-adventure Fragment, released hardcover by Delacorte last year and snatched up for film by Lloyd Levin (Watchmen). With a blood-pulsing narrative and speculative science edge, the book’s been compared to the best of Michael Crichton’s work. Warren will discuss with us how he did it.
Also aboard for SD25, Laurel Corona will be conducting select read & critique workshops over the extra-long weekend. Her latest historical novel, Penelope’s Daughter (Berkley Trade), revisits Homer’s The Odyssey from an utterly fresh perspective, chronicling the tale of Odysseus’ queen and daughter, both abandoned by the warlord in Ithaca for some 19 years . . . Author/artist Christine Renhad Stenstrom will be with us. The recent release of her exquisitely produced coffee table book, Cherry Blossom Trees: Literary Writings and Artworks, will allow us to address a huge market not really dealt with much in the past.
In her first appearance at the SCWC, Lisa Fugard, author of the evocative and wonderfully rich Skinner’s Drift, set in her native South Africa, will be conducting workshops. So too will Alexandra Sokoloff, whom we lost in Newport Beach due to unforeseen circumstances that left her stranded on the east coast.
Still many, many other authors, agents and editors to announce as we begin the run-up to February’s event. Drusilla Campbell’s NovelCram immersion track is a go, as is our new 3/10 Power Pen track (details on that later), and some particular attention we’re going to pay to all things eBooks.
Check back often or subscribe to our RSS feed. There’s much more coming soon.