Monday, March 14, 2011

Top 10 Conference Take-Aways

Post by Jenny

In this world of rapid depreciation and instant obsolescence, it’s good to know that some things get better year after year. Wine (though in all honesty, I don’t have the palate to know the difference.) 30Rock. Gluten-free baked goods. And the Northern Colorado Writers Conference.

I had a great time there this weekend, rubbing elbows with other writers and channeling my inner flight attendant (just call me ‘the short one’). Because I haven’t shaken my penchant for top ten lists, I’d like to share my Top 10 Conference Take-Aways (in chronological order):

1. Agents Michael Ebeling and Kristina Holmes: An effective platform lifts you above your competition in a saturated market. Don’t be afraid of that ‘P’ word. Also: agents are the kidneys/livers of the publishing industry—they filter out the crap. (Loved that analogy.)

2. Author Carol Berg: Persona voice is not just dialect and dialogue but also form, content, rhythm, nuance, and word choice.

3. Author Greg Campbell: Narrative nonfiction must be fact-based, accurate, and as character-driven as fiction. And defer to better judgment when practicing lock-picking.

4. Author/Radio Personality/Speaker Dom Testa: ‘Nerd’ is not a four-letter word (well, technically it is, but not in the pejorative sense…ack, I feel myself spinning off into a nerd tangent…) Own it, fellow nerds!

5. Editor Sarah J. Freese: It’s okay to write purely for the love of it. But keep submitting.

6. Author John Shors: Setting can be a compelling character. To create a sense of place, observe, absorb, and connect. Then edit. A lot.

7. Marketing pro Kalen Landow: Facebook is for connecting with people you know; Twitter is for connecting with people you want to know. But no one with any semblance of a life can ‘keep up’ with Twitter. (Whew!)

8. Agent Mike Nappa: Write for everyone and you’ll appeal to no one. The first line is the most important line. Be prepared and professional, because once the sh*t sticks to you, it’s hard to clean it off.

9. Agents Rachelle Gardner and Mike Nappa at the agent panel: Cut the preamble. Get to the story. (I did not submit pages this year, but kudos to everyone who did. It’s a big, nerve-wracking step.)

10. Author/Life Coach/Speaker Diane Sieg: By being quiet and empty, we allow ourselves to be invigorated and refueled.

That’s more than ten total, but there was so much great information to be had. If you were at the conference, I hope you left feeling inspired and ready to write. Please take a minute to share one or two of your favorite take-aways. And if you were not able to attend this year, it’s never too early to start planning for March 30-31, 2012. I know Kerrie is.


Jean W said...

Two things I will always remember: Sandi taught me to ask for what I want in a query, in her sweet but no nonsense way. Michael & Kristina really cleared up, for me, the idea of platforms and which are most effective depending on the project. During my pitch session, Michael gave me some great ideas and shared his insights (and his love for Hawaii).

Bob McDonnell said...

Great conference. I was almost in info overload.

Tim Wiederanders -- Small newspapers will survive. They do the local stuff that you can't get on the web. Yeah!

Justin Matatt -- If you are going to self-publish, you must SELL!

Greg Campbell -- Submit, submit,submit those magazine articles.

Michelle Mach said...

Thanks so much for sharing this! I missed the conference this year. I really liked the statement about Facebook/Twitter--that's something I figured out on my own, but it took awhile. I think a lot of people see those as interchangeable, posting identical info on each.

Patricia Stoltey said...

My big takeaway from the conference was Linda Berry's brainstorming technique for fiction writers. It was a new concept for me, and I'm going to be using it a lot.

Jenny said...

Jean, I got a laugh out of Michael climbing up on the table to demonstrate 'platform.' I'm glad you had a good pitch session with him.

Bob, I know what you mean about info overload. Sounds like you sat in on some good sessions.

Michelle, we hope to see you at the conference next year!

Pat, I'd love to get more information about Linda's technique.

Happy writing, everyone!

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