Thursday, February 7, 2013

Roanoke Regional Writers Conference 2013


The Roanoke Regional Writers Conference was held last weekend on February 1 and 2. I had the honor of being on the blogging panel this year.

On Friday, we had a reception, which included networking, presentation of scholarships, a reading, a song, and an inspirational speech from keynote speaker, Kathleen Grissom. A teen read this fantastic story told in second person about you eating lunch at the co-op. It was spot-on. Then, Greg Trafidlo sang a great and funny song about keeping the butt in the chair, or was it behind in the seat. *shrugs* Something like that. If you ever have a chance to hear Kathleen Grissom, author of The Kitchen House, speak, then you should go. I've heard her three times, and she's so inspiring. Every time she talks about how the story came to her for The Kitchen House, I get chills. The greatest thing I took away from her speech was "What doesn't come from the heart, doesn't reach the heart." It's something we writers need to remember.

On Saturday, we had our classes.

From 8:30-9:30, I attended "10 Things You Can Do Now to Promote the Book You Haven't Even Sold Yet." Author Gina Holmes and Promoter and Raconteur River Laker taught the class. I was taking notes on my phone, but then I lost 3G and it didn't save all of them from this class. The thing that hit home the most of this class for me was creating a review list. I know how important reviews are, and it's so helpful if you know people who will review your book. I've been slacking in this category, and I hope to do better with my next projects. Here are the few things you should do to promote your book before you sell it:
Create a Reviews list
Educate  yourself between marketing and publicity. Marketing = paid. Publicity = free.
Build a marketing folder.
Think about brand.
Gather your tribe. Social media.
Rule for reciprocation.
Open hand theory. Share and others will share too.
Platform.  Get you in front of target audience.

From 9:45-10:45, I attended "Legal Protections for Writers," which was taught by Attorney Erin Ashwell. Erin is also working on a middle grade novel. From what Erin said, it made me feel more confident about my work, particularly about using terms that have become more common in our language, like Kleenex. Once again, I was also reminded to be very careful when signing contracts.

From 11:00-12:00, I attended "Marketing Your Own Work," taught by Kathleen Grissom. As I said before, Kathleen is amazing. When her book was published, Simon and Schuster decided on an 11,000 print run, but Kathleen took promotion in her own hands. She contacted bookstores, libraries, book clubs. Through word of mouth and a ton of work on her end, she has now sold over 500,000 copies of her book The Kitchen House and has two more books slated for release. One of the great tips of advice she gave was to offer to do a reading instead of a signing at bookstores/libraries. She also shows how much personal contact makes the difference. If she found out (through Google Alerts) a book club was discussing her book, she would contact them and ask if they'd like her to phone/Skype in. That personal connection means everything.

At lunch, I sat with Gina Holmes, River Laker, Greg Trafidlo, Jim from my writers' group, Dan Casey, and another person I didn't know. It was a lot of fun, and if you ever get a chance to hear journalist Dan Casey's stories, then do so. He's amazing. Dan, Gina, and I got back late from lunch, so I sat out of the 1:00-2:00 class.

From 2:15-3:15, I attended the class "Understanding Your Publishing Options Before Your Manuscript is Finished." Terri Leidich taught this class. This class focused on the differences between traditional publishing, self-publishing, and hybrid publishing. I haven't heard of hybrid publishing before. From the way I understand it, the author pays for some services (such as editing), but then the publisher distributes and markets. It sounds a lot like a vanity publisher, but the difference comes in that a hybrid publisher doesn't accept all manuscripts. I'm not too sure what I think about it. I guess it can come in handy if you need better distribution channels (i.e. a way to get into bookstores and libraries easier).

From 3:30-4:30, I attended the class "Selling Your Young Adult Novel 101," taught by author Angie Smibert. Angie taught the class from a traditional publishing standpoint and went over query letters, synopses, etc. She talked about her experiences in going to a conference and submitting directly to an editor before finding an agent, so that was really neat. I loved Angie's Memento Nora and The Forgetting Curve, so that's the main reason I attended this session. By the way, The Meme Plague comes out in July!

Then, from 4:45-5:30, we had "The Evolving Art of Blogging." The moderator was Dan Smith, and the panelists were Terri Leidich, Dan Casey, Bonnie Cranmer, Roland Lazenby, and me. We talked about the different blogging platforms (I still prefer Blogger!), what we've gotten out of blogging, and more. Since I was on the panel, it was hard to remember what everyone said. The neatest thing had to be with Bonnie Cranmer, though. She's a ghost blogger. That's just so cool. Also, Bonnie was talking about how Google helps out more with SEO if you use Blogger as opposed to other blog platforms. I found that interesting too, although it makes a lot of sense.

Overall it was a great conference, and I'm sure there is a lot I missed. That's the bad thing about conferences. Too many classes, so little time.

Have you been to a writer's conference before?


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Too bad someone didn't videotape your panel!
"Share and others will share too." Words to live by.

Kyra Lennon said...

Wow, Cherie! Sounds like you really learned a lot!

Carol Kilgore said...

Sounds like an awesome conference. I love to go to writers conferences.

Unknown said...

Congrats again on being in the panel! It sounds like you learned so much... what a great experience.

"What doesn't come from the heart, doesn't reach the heart" is great advice to remember. Thank you for sharing her words.

Also, thanks for the response on the publishing question. The information is so helpful :)You're awesome ma'am!

jaybird said...

WOW- that's a lot going on for one day. But what a great amount of info you gleamed from it. Thanks for sharing!!!

DL Hammons said...

I've been to several conferences and was looking forward to going to a couple more this year, but that's been postponed. They are great for getting the creative juices flowing and re-energizing yourself! :)

Jai said...

The conference sounds amazing.

"What doesn't come from the heart, doesn't reach the heart." Very true.

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

Next time invite me and I'll fly over and we'll hang out and stuff :)

Christine Rains said...

That's so cool. You learned so much. I particularly like Kathleen's personal touches. I bet it just thrills fans to have her do that. I still prefer Blogger too! :)

J.L. Campbell said...

Sounds like it was a good conference.

alexia said...

Sounds fun! I love going to conferences! Nice promo tips.

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing the main points. There are some sessions there I REALLY wish I could have gone to!

dolorah said...

Wish I'd been there. I'm hoping to get to a conference sometime this year, or next. I've only been to one small one, but I still remember how awesome the experience was.


Heather R. Holden said...

I've never been to a conference before, but wow, this one definitely sounds like it would have been fantastic to be at! I really loved that piece you shared about needing to write from the heart to reach the heart. So true!

DMS said...

This sounds so fun. Congrats on being part of the panel. How exciting! I love writing conferences. :)