Another sunny, beautiful day spent inside, but no regrets. I attended four sessions and two keynote speeches. The conference has full attendance, i.e. sold out, so the rooms were packed. All the presenters had great information to share. Here are the highlights.
Publishing in Transition: The View from the Big Apple
This session featured a panel of editors from Big Six publishing houses. Each one stated that they frequently checked the digital bestseller lists, looking for independently published authors who had good number and good reviews. Basically, the stigma of self-publishing is gone. Self-publishing is now considered an alternate track to starting your writing career. But, if you want the Big Six to take notice, you’ve got be really good.
Hot Plots: Persuading Your Readers to Turn the Page
Authors Robert Dugoni and Mandy Hubbard discussed the finer points of page turners. Two important words to remember: So what? So what if my character fails? Why would it be so bad? For example, so what if Dorothy had to stay in Oz and never return to Kansas? Would that be so bad? Yes. Why? Because the Wizard has shown Dorothy a vision of Auntie Em dying. Guilt stricken, Dorothy becomes all the more determined to return home.
Writing Dialogue That Brings Your Characters to Life
A panel on writing convincing dialogue. My favorite moment wasn’t so much about dialogue. One of the panelists was formerly a journalist. Once, she wrote a story about alternative families. She said that at each household she visited, the first thing she asked was to see the fridge. The contents of a refrigerator can tell you a lot about a person or a family. She suggested looking in our characters refrigerators. I think that’s brilliant.
Luncheon Keynote Speaker Anne Perry
Yes, the Anne Perry. She was fascinating. I could have listened to her all afternoon. She told lots of stories about her writing and her life. My favorite moment, though, came earlier, during the Hot Plots session, when she did the equivalent of a literary photo bomb. When Hot Plots opened the floor for Q&A, a woman in the back made a statement, something like, “You only need to know as much about a character as is important to the plot at that moment in the story.” I remember thinking, “Wow. She stated that so perfectly.” That woman was, of course, Anne Perry.
Feeding Your Daily Writing Habit: 4 Steps to Higher Productivity
The presenter, Ellen Sussman, actually had 10 steps. The two most relevant for me were “block the Internet” and “save editing for later.” This is especially true for your first draft. Just write, don’t let anything interrupt you, especially your internal editor.
Afternoon Keynote Speaker Bella Andre
Bella Andre is a contemporary romance writer. Her traditionally published novels were respectably midlist. When she decided to self-publish, her writing career skyrocketed and she has sold 1.5 million ebooks. She told us the story of her success. Main point is that to successfully self-publish, your book has to be awesome. Put out a polished product, not just something you slapped together.
Great first full day. By evening, I was exhausted, but happy and looking forward to Day 3.
Click here for more information on the San Francisco Writers Conference.