Superstars Writing Seminar: a summary
By Terry Odell
I had the enviable pleasure and privilege of being able to attend the recent “Superstars Writing Seminars” in Colorado Springs as a guest of Kobo Writing Life. Thanks so much to Kobo and Mark Lefevbre for making it possible.
As a writer of mystery and romantic suspense, I found the makeup of the attendees and speakers, who were primarily science fiction and fantasy authors, intriguing. But although our genres differ, so much of what was presented at these seminars blurred any boundaries. The seminars focused on the publishing industry, which was another new one for me. I generally attend craft or reader conferences, and although there are frequently sessions devoted to the industry, I’d never been inundated with “business” topics for three solid days. Here’s a recap of some of the tidbits I picked up:
From Joan Johnston:
- Read like a crazy person. (And you can write off movies in the name of research as well.) You have to know what’s out there, and if you’re targeting a specific publisher/imprint, it behooves you to know what they’re looking for.
- It’s the bad books that make you a better writer. Figuring out why a book is bad helps you learn the craft. Reading great books only depresses you because it raises the fear you’ll ever be able to write that well.
- Writing 1 page a day equals a book in a year.
- Don’t expect it to be easy—but luck does play a part.
- Celebrate the small successes along the way.
Kevin J. Anderson’s “Popcorn Theory of Success”
- You could make popcorn by heating the oil in a pan, waiting for it to get hot, dropping in a kernel of popcorn, and then, when it pops, eating it, washing and drying the pan, then repeating for another kernel. You’ll end up with a snack, but you’ll get darn hungry. Instead, he suggests you get out into as many places as you can, do as much as you can, all at the same time, the way you really make popcorn. By dumping a bunch of kernels into the pot all at once.
From Tracy Hickman:
- Physical books are souvenirs of the experience of reading the book.
- It’s not about being published, it’s about being read.
From editor Jim Mintz
- An editor’s job isn’t to edit, write cover copy, etc. The real job is to be an advocate of the book.
From Eric Flint:
- All arts and entertainment aim at the mass market.
- Books aren’t sold like washing machines.
- In the big picture, you’re invisible, so it’s about getting people to discover you.
- Publishers don’t expect to make money on an author’s first book.
From Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta: Secrets of Being a Professional Author
- Act like a professional, treat others as if you are professional—and that includes blogs, social media, and email.
- You are in charge of building and maintaining your own reputation.
- Respect the reader; write the best book you can.
- Don’t quit your day job.
- You’re not in competition with other writers—they are your networking group. It’s collaboration.
From Mark Leslie Lefevbre of Kobo:
- Ebooks and Print: it’s not ‘us’ vs ‘them’
- If anyone tells you what the future of digital publishing will be … RUN the other way.
- Only change is permanent
- Ebooks are becoming established in the industry
- The hard truth: Writing is a business.
From James A. Owen:
- Don’t lose sight of your long-term goals. Never give up what you want most for what you want right now.
- One of the biggest takeaways from these seminars was the electricity in the room, the enthusiasm and renewed motivation to go home and write the book. As attendees put it, lightning was striking.
About the Author:
Terry Odell was born in Los Angeles, moved to Florida, and now makes her home in Colorado. An avid reader (her parents tell everyone they had to move from their first home because she finished the local library), she always wanted to “fix” stories so the characters did what she wanted, in books, television, and the movies. Once she began writing, she found this wasn’t always possible, as evidenced when the mystery she intended to write rapidly became a romance. However, after seven romantic suspense novels (which she prefers to think of as “Mysteries With Relationships”) her recent release, DEADLY BONES, is a traditional mystery. Of course, that doesn’t mean her characters can’t have relationships! In addition to several stand alone novels, her writing credits include the Pine Hills Police series, the Blackthorne, Inc. series, and her Mapleton Mystery series.
Blog—Terry’s Place: http://terryodell.com/terrysplace