A Writerly Blog
Ten days ago I returned exhausted from three whirlwind days of our regional SCBWI Conference. Wow. I couldn't take it all in -- there was so much to absorb! There were workshops and keynote addresses by seasoned authors, a bookstore to shop to our wallet's delight, and of course, a county fair to top all county fairs.
Topics from how to garner invites for author visits to social media marketing and what to look for in an agent. And the customary craft courses on voice, editing and character.
If you've been to a writer's conference, you know how daunting it can be. So what are the 5 things to remember? Let me outline them simply here:
1. BE COMFORTABLE
Wear comfortable shoes and clothing (with a sweater or jacket to ward off a chill in case the rooms are freezing). Bring snacks, a method to take notes, and a tote, small suitcase or large purse to hold all the conference goodies and handouts.
2. BE WILLING
If you live in the area, (but even if you don't) volunteer to help set up registration, drive speakers to and from the airport, or attend to the needs of the host for a workshop. I offered to pick up a well-known author after her flight, and ended up having a friendly and insightful conversation. I realized she has some of the same issues as we debut authors do!
3. BE FRIENDLY
Network with attendees, authors, agents and editors. Sit with them at a meal, chat in the lounge, or catch them at the end of a workshop. They are humans like you and me. No need to be intimidated! If you don't try, you'll never feel comfortable around them. And don't underestimate the importance of conversing with fellow writers, even if they haven't published yet. We all have valuable things to share. Bring business cards to pass out, and be sure to follow them on social media. Who knows where that will lead!
4. BE REALISTIC
Don't expect to land an agent or sign a contract at your very first conference. Yes, it has happened, but chances are slim. It doesn't mean you or the conference was a failure. It does mean you have accumulated tips and tricks for your writer's journey that will eventually lead to a contract. Put into practice all the things you are learning, and move forward. Good news may be around the next corner, whether that is next month or next year!
Remember those notes you took? Hopefully, while in the workshops, you highlighted or circled the items you needed to work on first. Maybe it's editing your latest manuscript, or submitting to that awesome agent you talked with -- just make sure you've perused their wishlist before submitting. Get to work immediately on those tasks. As I write this, I'm reminding myself I have not followed through on my own advice. Believe me, I will miss out if I don't move ahead. Don't be like me!
This is the first time I've attended a conference as a debut author. So I was honored to see my little MG historical fiction nestled among the great kid lit authors of the Midwest. Well, maybe a bit intimidating, too. And although I sold only one, I discovered another author had sold none. So, I didn't worry. We all need to begin somewhere. And I am firmly traveling down the path of marketing, writing and submitting.
Here I am below, ready to sign the one book purchased. But no one showed up. No worries, because two-thirds of the attendee authors didn't show, and the few that sat at their assigned place faithfully and waited, had no books to sign. But, we took photos of each other, then exchanged and signed our books. Win-win. Just not in the usual sense.
Can you think of other points to remember when attending a writer's conference? Which conferences have helped you the most on your writer's journey? Tell me in the comments below. . .
Speaking of debut authors -- The Heart Changer has 12 reviews right now. Can you help me reach 20? If you have read my story, please give me an honest review on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and/or Bookbub. You can copy and paste the same review to all the online sites. Easy-peasy!
I'd sure appreciate it!
Little did I know this meme would be a self-prophetic reflection of my feelings at this time. I know we are not to rely on feelings, since they can lead us astray. They are as fleeting as wind.
I want to be honest here: I'm worried. About many things.
My book, The Heart Changer launches in two days - April 26th. Does anybody really care?
I've poured my heart and soul into my novel - based on a historical event. I want my young audience to fill with hope after reading it. Life is too short and full of hard times. We all need a bit of hope. But will my book reach those who need hope? Will it get into the right hands?
What about my writerly friends - and family. Do they care? Enough to pass the word about my debut novel? Am I being too pushy? Too 'in your face' with my social media posts? I have it on a good authority that followers expect you to push the envelope when it comes to posts in the few days before publication.
Have I done enough? Too little? In the best way possible to make my book seen? Will people find it on Amazon with such an obscure tag? I was hoping for a "juvenile historical fiction" category tag, but it wasn't to be.
Will I get 50 reviews within a month of publication or less, which brings my book up in ranking on Amazon? Or more troublesome - will I get any reviews?? What if my readers don't like it? I do understand there will always be a couple of reviewers who for some reason or another, give it a 1 or 2. I've heard those ratings can reveal some truth about my story. Read my post on reviews here.
On Friday, April 26th at 8pm CST, I am hosting my very first author's FB Live event on my Page (have you liked my Page yet?) Will anyone show up? Or will I be talking to crickets?
And my FB Page Chat Party on Saturday, April 27th from 2-2:30pm? Will anyone join in to ask questions? Or will I need to entertain myself for half an hour?
As you can see, I have many concerns. But I understand it's totally normal.
My word of the year is PERSEVERANCE, and boy, I will need plenty of it during these next few weeks! Perseverance to push through the gloom of insecurity and hopelessness, and move towards HOPE. Because this one thing I know for sure - I have a great God. He wrote my story, and therefore, I needn't worry. All those readers who need hope will read my story. I will get as many reviews as He sees fit. And I will have exactly the right friends to join me in my first author's FB LIVE and Chat Party events.
You, see - He is the Heart Changer!
I must admit — Les Misérables by Victor Hugo is my second favorite classic novel. Jane Eyre is my first. I also need to admit that I’ve never read it (it’s on my list), but I’ve watched numerous film versions. And I see the thread of hope running through them all.
Obviously, an author writes from his own worldview. He can’t help it. So, when I discovered Hugo’s quotes, that became clear. I also found the word HOPE in these quotes. No, you may not see the word, but each one reveals an element of hope.
16 Days and Counting!
There is so much yet to do before April 26th — Launch Day! Creating memes, connecting with my launch team, getting my giveaways and prizes ready for my book signing and Facebook Live, as well as writing a steady stream of guest posts. Oh, and keeping up with my social media and FaceBook groups. Yikes! I feel as though I’m running towards a finish line. It takes perseverance! My word of the year - aptly chosen.
In some ways, the death of my father came slowly. I eased into it by spending time with cousins while my mother visited my father at his hospital bedside. He was a stroke victim and for three days, never spoke or awoke. Although my mom said he squeezed her hand at some point in response to a comment, he was mute.
When an author has a book baby launching into the world, one of the items on her ‘to-do’ list is purchasing book swag. I’ve always though that was an odd word to describe ‘giveaway items’ relating to an author’s latest publication.
Sometimes the publishing house designs and provides them, and other times, the author chooses to do it. Since I have an art background, I love to play around with the options, although pixel measurements are NOT my friends right now.
So, what does a debut author do all day? Sit around and create one fabulous story after the other with no sweat or writer’s block involved? Not likely. If you know of an author like that, I’d like to meet her.
No, the debut author’s life is frenetic, puzzling, and at times, full of surprises. But on a daily basis, it’s a ton of BIC (bottom in chair) perseverance. Which is why the “p” word is my choice for 2019. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
Why do authors write? Well, like my author soulmate Charlotte, her quote above tells all. We just can’t help it. Communication is our super power. We have great stories to tell with enough Dickensian characters to make you laugh, cry, or wish they were your best friend.
Which is why I want to make connections on my journey with any authors, organizations and social media groups that have the same passions, so we can mutually encourage one another.
What exactly is a reader soulmate? That was the question poised to us in Colleen Riordan’s Wild Ink Marketing beta course. To put it simply, it's that person who will fall in love with your book. Or purchase it for a child, grandchild, local library or classroom.
Colleen challenged us to answer three questions our reader soulmate would ask if she were perusing the shelves in a bookstore, and happened to lay eyes on our book:
1. Does this book contain the types of characters, plots and themes I enjoy? (Is it my favorite genre?)
2. Can I afford this right now? (Will it be worth my time and money?)
3. Do I need this? (Can I walk out of the store without it, or must it become my next read?
I attempted to answer those questions in my video - take a listen!
Yes, believe it or no, authors love book reviews (although some admit they never read them, in fear they'd never write another word again!)
So, what constitutes a great book review?
These ideas were shared with historical fiction author, Lynn Austin’s launch team:
A great review is one that includes your personal thoughts and experience. Why the book grabbed and kept your interest. And why you think the book is worth someone's time and money.
You don't need to write a summary of the book, or include spoilers. And it's not necessary to be long and wordy.
Here's a tip to make the task super easy: write one review in a Word Doc, then copy and paste it to the different sites.
My MG Biblical fiction "The Heart Changer" debuted in 2019 with Ambassador International.