I used to think that if I wrote the most amazing, brilliant book ever, I wouldn't have to do anything but send out a handful of query letters and my authorial success would be assured.
Then I went to the Superstars Writing Seminar.
For three days, some of the most successful writers in science fiction and fantasy told us how they got where they are. They busted common myths about publishing, walked us through a standard writing contract, discussed taxes and copyright issues, told us how to stand out in the slushpile, and so much more, all with an attitude of sharing their knowledge and giving us the best chance of joining them as professional, full-time authors.
I think there were about 60 participants, so each of us had plenty of opportunity speak to the presenters on a one-on-one basis, either between sessions or at meals. I made lots of new writing friends, recruited more authors to skype with the Laie Young Writers club, and found out about writing contests, publishing opportunities, and information resources that I never knew about.
Here are few of the gems I gleaned:
1. Think like a small business owner. You have a creative, artistic writer side who produces the good stuff. You also need to cultivate an entrepreneurial marketing side to sell that stuff.
2. New authors are practically invisible. You must find a way to be seen.
3. An offer is only an offer. Don't get giddy and jump on the first offer to be represented by an agent or be published by a big publishing house. Protect yourself and your intellectual property. Never trade what you want in the long run for what you want now. Be willing to walk away if it isn't a good deal.
4. Most important, write a lot of stuff, put it out on the market, and keep it all out there until something sells.
How am I different after going to this seminar?
I went to this seminar feeling uncertain, not knowing what to do next as a writer. I came home determined to hit the ground running, to rework some old projects and get them back on the market, to start submitting all the short fiction languishing on my hard-drive, and to order a set of business cards. But most important, I've realized that as an author I'm always on stage as my number-one PR person. When my friends ask me, "how's the writing going?" I'm never, ever going to say, "Eh, going nowhere slow." Instead, I'm going to tell them about my latest, most exciting story ever. Because what really sells books? Word of mouth! The recommendations of friends! And that begins with the people I know and every new friend I meet.