Today’s featured image is a Wildebeest scratching his head in the dirt. It perfectly illustrates how I feel after spending the weekend at the 59th Pacific Northwest Writers’ Conference in Seattle. The conference is well-organized. The sessions are high quality. The information — there’s just too much for my synapses to digest. So, what did I learn? Well, let’s see. Last week I blogged on the Top Ten Reasons Writers Go to Conferences. Today I’ll share how I did.
The Top Ten Reasons Writers Go to Conferences
& How They Matched my Experience
10. To attend autograph parties —
Yes, there was an autograph party, and no, I didn’t attend, because it started after 9:00 p.m. and my coach turns into a pumpkin after 8:30. I was lucky to be awake for the keynote.
9. To eat catered meals with people uncomfortable talking to each other
— Since I prepaid for the meals, I ate them. And I bonded with my fellow writers over two gripping questions.
First, if there are eight place settings per table, why are there only six desserts?
Was is a secret social mixer?
The atmosphere tingled with the unanswered question — Who would be the first to say, “I never eat dessert?” No one.
Next question: Are there more desserts in the back?
Final question: If we grab for the desserts, should we just start eating before we know if everyone receives a dessert? Because otherwise we might have to offer to share?” These questions extended beyond the dinner hour into every session I attended the next day.
Second Question: If there are over 600 people in attendance, why is there only one bar station? Surely they know many writers drink. People were reluctant to voice this question with the same intensity as the mystery of the missing desserts, perhaps because they don’t want to come off as a people who drink. But I figure, hey, no one stopped reading Hemingway because he drank.
8. To learn how to self-publish a book.
I failed this class.
7. To learn how to write a successful novel.
Edit-Revise. Repeat endlessly. Put this novel aside and start the next one. Question – what is meant by the term “successful”?
6. To find out how to use social media.
After you set up the accounts, you pretty much have to figure that out yourself. Thanks – that doesn’t help.
5. To find out what a platform is.
Social media + Web page + Blog. And, you should know your audience. So if you’re writing a book on dog grooming, blogging about cats probably won’t help. OK.
4. To learn about tax write-offs.
Alas this topic wasn’t covered. Possibly because few attendees earned enough to qualify for write-offs.
3. To find out why editors are so critical.
Possibly the wrong question. The first issue is to figure out what sort of editor you need. Developmental editors look at the whole piece to make sure you have a coherent story. Copy editors make sure that the character with a limp in chapter 2 still has the limp in chapter 18, unless, of course he’s had a miracle cure. Finally, there are proof readers handle typos, commas, etc.
2. To learn how to sell a book.
It’s all about marketing. *head bang*
Finally, the number one reasons writers, despite their voiced intent to self-published, to to conferences: To meet an agent –
This I managed to do. Two publishing editors and seven agents thought my description was interesting enough to request email submissions. This, of course, made me happy. The tricky part is whether my written work catches their interest.
So, there you have it — how I spent my weekend. I learned a bit. I met nice people. And I affirmed that I’m on the right path to bring my story of RAMA to publication. If you’d like to know more about that project, you can read about it by selecting the “Project” tab above.
Sandra Wagner-Wright is the author of Two Coins: A Biographical Novel and Rama's Labyrinth. Both books are available in digital and print editions at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, and Kobo. Rama’s Labyrinth and Two Coins are available as audiobooks.
Sandra blogs weekly about topics related to her travels, writing life, and the incongruities of life in general.