What did I do last weekend?

What a weekend! I'm so sad the Pikes Peak Writers Conference is over, but I don't think I could have continued at that pace for one more day. I'm still recovering.

The workshops I attended (between my volunteer responsibilities) were fantastic. Among them:
  • Hooking your readers in one paragraph--or less, with historical novelist David Liss. Liss covered famous and not-so-famous first lines and paragraphs, analyzing what makes them entice the reader, and which ones (surprisingly) don't do the job well.
  • Creating Dazzling Worlds, with YA author Laura Resau. Though I'd never heard of Resau, I was really impressed with her writing exercises to help bring freshness and dimension to both storyworlds and characters. Her excerpts from her books made me want to go read them.
  • How to avoid the sophomore slump, with Barry Eisler. He explained techniques to make your second novel as good as, or better than the first.
  • Ghostwriting Panel. This one was interesting, with three authors talking about their experiences both working for book packagers (and ghostwriting for some seriously famous people), and using your writing skills to barter for services. Something to think about.
  • The Neuroscience of Writing, with DeAnna Knippling. Such a fascinating workshop, helping writers understand exactly why they should avoid cliches, among many other topics.
  • Plot, structure, and pushing your characters, with agent Hannah Bowman. A seriously helpful and interactive workshop, with a plot diagram you've never seen before--but it makes so much sense!
Pitches & Critiques
I pitched both formally and informally--one of the best things about going to a conference!
  • Pat Van Wie, editor at Bell Bridge Books. Though Belle Bridge hasn't published YA historical fantasy, Pat was willing to take a look at my manuscript and see what she thought.
  • Barry Goldblatt, agent with Goldblatt Literary. Though Barry has represented both fairy tale retellings (Shannon Hale) and YA historical fantasy (his wife, Libba Bray), he felt that the market wouldn't support more books in the fairy tale genre.
  • Hannah Bowman, agent with Liza Dawson Associates. I caught her in the hall and asked her opinion, and she disagreed with Goldblatt's assessment. She recently sold a Beauty and the Beast retelling, and the publisher is marketing it specifically as a fairy tale. She'd like to see my pages.
  • Pam van Hylckama Vlieg, with Larsen Pomada Literary Agents. I spoke to her while driving her to the airport. Like Bowman, she feels there is still room for well-told fairy tales. She'd like pages, too. And while I was talking to Pam, I had author and actress Amber Benson (from Buffy the Vampire Slayer) in the back seat. Such a crazy weekend!
Meals at conferences are a great way to network with other attendees, and spend time with faculty in a more relaxed setting.
  • Lunch with SourceBooks editor Deb Werksman was so much fun. Though she edits romance exclusively, she was so kind to genuinely engage the three male sci-fi writers who happened to sit at the table. I also had a great time going along on her Colorado tour and yarn shopping.
  • Nicole Resciniti, agent with The Seymour Agency, is so well-read and smart. I think I'll definitely query her.
  • Dinner with author Libba Bray was amazingly fun, as was her keynote speech the next night. She could easily make a living as a stand-up comic. And she was kind enough to sit down with my daughter and her friend and work through their story worlds.
  •  Barry Eisler (who went from traditional publishing to indie) gave a keynote that shared the different sides of publishing. Some industry professionals did not take it well. If you want to know more, read the recap on Joe Konrath's blog.
 All in all, it was a fantastic weekend. I can't say enough about how much fun it is to volunteer at a conference. Have you ever volunteered at a conference?

How To Pitch Your Book

I'm over at the Pikes Peak Writers blog today, talking about resources for pitching your project. Come on over and take a peek! Later this week I'll be doing some pitching of my own. I'll report back next week on how the conference (and my pitches) went.

Agent Friday: Barry Goldblatt

It's time for the annual, amazing Pikes Peak Writers Conference--one of the 10 best in the country (according to agent Donald Maass). This week I'm racing between volunteering for the conference, and pitching, too. Here's who I've been matched with for pitching. Hope my nerves can take it!
Barry Goldblatt began his career working for several large publishing companies in subsidiary rights. His dream was to work as an editor in science fiction, but along the way, he fell in love with children's books. In 2000, he opened his own literary agency, Barry Goldblatt Literary.

Though you may not write young adult, middle grade, or picture books, there is a lot you can learn from this publishing veteran. Consider this quote:

"Don't write because you want to be published, write because you have to. Not every writer is going to get published, and if that's the only measuring stick you have as a writer for success and satisfaction, you are going to be in for a world of disappointment." 

Most of Goldblatt's blog focuses on his clients' new books, but here are a few posts you won't want to miss:

The 4 things agents learn about your from your query, in Query This.

Goldblatt's take on an almost perfect day. I like this quote: "And another thing: all you writers out there, agented or unagented, struggling to find a home for that book you've slaved over, worried over, revised and refined...don't ever give up. Sometimes it just takes a little while."

An interesting fact: Goldblatt gathers all his authors for a yearly retreat. I've never heard of an agent doing this, but it sounds fascinating. 

Many writers dream not only of publication, but of getting their book optioned for film. Goldblatt, married to stellar author Libba Bray(who has one of the funniest author websites around), explains what film options really mean, and what authors can expect.

Find out more about Barry Goldblatt in his Writer's Digest interview, and this interview.

Thinking about Goldblatt's first quote, do you write because you have to?

7 Tips for Marketing Your Indie Book

Publishing on your own is a big job--authors are not only responsible for writing, but all the editing, cover design, layout, and back cover copy. And then there's marketing.

Some writers have natural gifts for marketing. Others struggle to make the shift between writing and promotion. I've collected seven helpful posts that might make things a little easier.

Reviews are a huge part of marketing. Many authors join sites like Goodreads (recently purchased by Amazon) to connect with readers. But if your book is an indie (self-published), it's sometimes difficult to find readers willing to post reviews. Empty Mirror lists ten ways to find reviewers for self-published books.

Buy Buttons
Your book is live on Amazon, and everywhere else. You've got a website set up. Now it's time to let readers purchase books from your site. I never knew how many potential problems could crop up with a 'book page' on a website. Thomas Umstattd is about to solve them all. He's created an easy way to add attractive buy buttons to your site, while still participating in affiliate programs. Imagine, getting paid twice for each book purchase. Right now (for just a few more days), he's running a Kickstarter project, where donors can receive discounts on the product. It's called My Book Table.

Kindle Direct
The Kindle Direct Program at Amazon can give books a much-needed boost at any stage of the marketing game. However, Amazon changes things from time to time. Check out what Lindsay Buroker has to say about what's working (and not working) right now at Amazon.

If you haven't heard of Kickstarter (and others like it), it's time to check out what this site can do. This site is crowd-sourcing at its best. Worthwhile ideas make money, the not-so-great don't fly (kind of sounds like publishing, doesn't it?) Thomas Umstattd's idea above has nearly tripled the monetary goal he set. But it's important to plan carefully, and learn from others who have traveled there before. One of those is Clinton Kabler, who lays out three basic steps to using Kickstarter for literary projects. He focused on several realities that are important to understand for a successful experience. And Chuck Wendig at Terrible Minds covers some typical misunderstandings with Kickstarter.

Most authors want readers. And sometimes the best way to find them is by giving things away for free. My post last week highlighted some of the positives and negatives of pricing books low or free. Joe Warnimont lists the reasons why direct email marketing has such a big impact, and how you can entice potential readers to sign up.

 If you're marketing already, what techniques have worked best (or not at all)?  When you become convinced to buy a book, what made the difference in your decision?
Photo courtesy of Stock.xchng

Free Publishing Teleseminar: get your questions anwered by three professionals

 You've heard their names before. I've blogged about them. Former publishing CEO Michael Hyatt. Uber-agent Chip MacGregor. Up-and-coming agent Amanda Leudeke.

Next Wednesday, April 10th, at 8pm Eastern Time, writers everywhere have an opportunity to participate in a free teleseminar with all three. It's called the Get Published Teleseminar.

The seminar is one hour long, and will answer many publishing questions, including questions on platform (which Michael Hyatt wrote a book about). Even if you can't make the meeting, sign up, and you'll receive an MP3 link replay after it's done.

When you register, you have the chance to ask any question you want--great if there's a few things you really want addressed.

If a writing conference isn't in your future, make sure to take advantage of workshops like these.

What is the publishing question you'd most like the answer to?


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