Sunday, October 28, 2012

James River Writers Conference 2012 - Part 1

The James River Writers Conferences keep helping writers to write better, write new ways, get published, find people to friend, and a Whole lot more.  
This past weekend, Oct. 19, 20, and 21, was no different.
Filled with great sessions - and writers.   I was privileged to moderate a couple so I Know that’s for sure!
For 10 years now, JRW has been helping writers find each other, their supports, and sometimes even themselves as writers.
And pretty much all done by volunteers.   As they are trying to write, and write themselves into getting published.   
Considered by a lot of speakers that have attended as the best run conference in the U.S., all the supporters and volunteers of James River Writers deserve pats on the backs.   [And agents and publishing contracts.    Just sayin’ ….while putting it out there to the universe.]

First Pages Critique, that always reminds us that agents are human too, and have likes and dislikes.  It’s important to research agents we are sending our queries to, making sure we pick the right agent who carries the kind of writing we do.  Or that they are at least interested in it.  
But that just because one said no, doesn’t mean that the next will.  Or the next, or the next.  [For more on that see my notes on Eleanor Brown, author extraordinaire of highly acclaimed book ‘The Weird Sisters’ … well, as soon as get those notes up.  With ’Sandy’ storm preparedness, funerals, laundry, and all, this blog post writing thing is going very s-l-o-w.]

This year James River Writers also joined with the Library of Virginia for the Literary Luncheon on Saturday with Tom Robbins.  Where writers who write and test one line at a time were validated and found a soul mate.
I still have Tom Robbins printout of his advice for writers from the very first James River Writers Conference 10 years ago.  And vividly remember one of the stories he told.  His story telling skills are certainly phenomenal.  I understand we must change and grow, but I do miss the opening address he wrote especially for the James River Writers Conference that year, and used to be read at the beginning of each new conference.  It had such vivid imagery and language it reminded me what it was to be a great writer, and what we as writers want to aspire to.    Thanks Tom Robbins for the memory.

There were a lot of sessions I wanted to listen to this year, since there’s only one of me I had to make some very difficult choices.  GAH!  It was difficult!
Most of the time I ended up in a session because I had run into a friend or great writer and as we were talking I would end up walking with them to their choice.  
Hey it worked, I ended up in some great sessions that way.  
Like, The Savvy Professional, with a panel of Really smart savvy women.  Arielle Eckstut, Colleen Lindsay, Nancy Redd, Julia Schoerke, moderated by Rebecca Joines Schinsky.

Arielle Eckstut is part of The Book Doctors team, so check out their site, and their book, for all kinds of great tips and things to consider, and work on.

I will post a disclaimer now and say these are my notes, so this is my filter, however abbreviated.
For some other great notes on sessions check out Denise’s blog posts of sessions she attended at the Conference.  Different than mine.  Just so you know.  We all have different perspectives as writers and listeners.

This tidbit might have been worth the session :

2 Tweets is the length of the Perfect pitch

Think about topic of your book and how it relates to news happening now.
Talking about your book in a concise and interesting way.

Platform = something you are passionate about
Make booksellers your allies — from your local independents to the Barnes and Nobles around the corner..
Be best self in Every situation
Be / have a Great personality  and be Very kind of Everyone
Being very appreciative of the people who got you there. 

For all social situations - social networking - Be part of the community, be part of the conversation.

Make sure have Website optimized - to get good person to build your site get referrals from people familiar with working with authors.   Ask Writers you know, that are well known - who they use and trust.
One panelist recommended Chuck Wendig  and his  Terrible Minds Comm. 

Talking to potential agents - or anyone with power to get you one, should be about Expressing your Passion, Not Pitching your passion.

Local platform - Local interest     Big platform - niche area

Know your Category, that your book will fit into at a bookstore.   Read in That category.   Read well in that category.
Track the history and what is selling in it now.
See what’s on the shelf there.   And see What’s the Rising Stars there.

What is your distribution…. Ebooks sell better than self-published

Instead of spending money on self-publishing, spend it on self-promotion

5-1 ratio of doing for others vs. Having / asking others to do for you.  5 of you do, to 1 of you asking of others

One panelist believes you should do a writing group in and around what you are writing.  
[My personal note to this is - maybe. I go along with the advice of having mixed friends.  Sure seems that publishers are looking for writing that’s going to appeal to a wide range of groups and readers…. you going to get that if you have a very narrow group?   Just my thought.]

When you can’t do anything more to your manuscript - it’s done.

 One of the panelists believes Conferences purpose is Networking

And that’s what I had from this panel.  Plus it’s time to put in another load of laundry and check preparedness supplies.
Will get up rest of notes from JRW Conference 2012 as soon as I can.  Well, as I transcribe them from my scribbled on papers.
But you can go to Twitter and look at #jrwc12 and get tweet quotes and writing tips, notes,  from all kinds of writers that were at the Conference.  And even the Twitter Chats with some of the writers and speakers at the Conference this year.

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