Monday, March 24, 2008

LDStorymaker's 2008 Writers Conference Roundup

Whew! What a weekend!

When I registered, I was informed that during the day on both Friday and Saturday, Janette Rallison's and my room would be used for the pitch sessions to Lisa Mangum of Deseret Book and we were to stay away. I guess that was only fair, since LDStorymakers paid for the room because we were out-of-town presenters. I was a bit nervous about all our stuff strewn around (neither Janette nor I are very neat hotel guests), but at least housekeeping got there first and the beds were made.

On Friday, editor Tim Travaglini spoke on getting out of the slush pile. I attended three classes given by Rachel Ann Nunes on writing in spite of a busy life, Kirk Shaw of Covenant on ten things that get you noticed by an editor, and Shirley Bahlmann and Jaime Theler on finding your niche in non-fiction. The schedule included Q&A with a panel of publishers.

Some of Tim's observations were that three things contribute to a writer's success: Natural Talent, Training, and Perseverence. You need two out of the three to succeed. He urged us to get into a writer's group for support and help. Don't be afraid to revise: your words are not gold. When submitting, don't overlook junior, that is, acquiring editors. They are hungry to find good projects. He also gave the opinion that the days of exclusive submissions are over. Recession-proof books include non-fiction and children's books.

Rachel's excellent suggestions included to define yourself as a writer and choose to write. Get rid of the things that take time from that commitment, like doing things others can do for themselves. Learn to say no. Make a goal sheet. Don't waste time at the computer. Take care of your body. Learn to write in snatches.

Kirk Shaw gave ten ways to lure an editor to your story and to keep him reading until he's hooked. They include a well-written cover letter, following guidelines, sending your best version, top-notch first three pages, characters you'd invite out to lunch, conflict, climax, uniqueness, talking up a storm, and words worth writing.

Shirley Bahlmann and Jaime Theler pointed out that non-fiction is the easiest route to publication, over 70% of the books sold are non-fiction, and that many non-fiction books are written by first-time authors. Non-fiction books last much longer on the bookseller's shelf, and there are many niches to fill.

Saturday including giving a class on Self-Publishing with Jewel Adams, and attending classes given by Tristi Pinkston and Candace Salima on Internet promotion, Gordon Ryan on writing historical fiction, and Julie Bellon and Michele Paige Holmes on research. Four authors with national contracts discussed finding an agent, and agent Jamie Weiss Chilton gave a talk about her work and agency at lunch. The final general session was on how to have a dynamic book launch, given by MaryAnn Jones of Deseret Book's publicity department. I'll blog more about Saturday's classes later.

The conference wrapped up with the crowning of next year's Conference King, Jeff Savage aka J. Scott Savage. He looked so cute in his crown and robe, waving his silver oven mitts, uh, ahem, his gauntlets of power around.

Then it was back to the room for costume changes for the semi-formal Whitney Award Gala.

I cannot begin to do justice to the splendor of the room or the electric atmosphere. I urge you to go here for the awesome live blogging done by four Storymakers to help the Storymakers who could not attend the Gala to feel included. The rest of the world was also invited to look in. Scroll down to the "beginning" at the end of the blog and work your way up to the "final thoughts" at the top.

I blogged here about the Whitney Award Winners.

Below are more blogged anticipations, summaries, and thoughts by other folks about the conference and the Whitney Awards.

I had such a good time seeing friends again, meeting others for the first time, getting acquainted with new people, and learning more or re-learning things I had forgotten about the whole publishing industry.

I can hardly wait for next year's conference!


  1. Let's share a room next year too--and we'll leave something scandleous around in case they want the room for pitch sessions again.

  2. Marsha, it was good to meet you last weekend. And thanks for posting the break-out synopses. It looks like you went to all of the workshops I didn't - it was a very tough choice most of the time, so it's good to see what was covered.

  3. Oooo, scandalous! What could that be? I'll be thinking all year long.

    Don, it was a great pleasure to meet you face-to-face. While it's the nature of attending conferences that we have to make choices, it's never fun to feel like we've missed out on something. See you next year!


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