I was thrilled to be one of Shut Up & Write’s lottery winners for a ticket to the San Francisco Writers Conference. Within an hour of being notified, I bought a plane ticket from Boise, Idaho, made accommodation plans and rented a car. This was an opportunity I wasn’t going to let pass by.
A conference this big takes a strategy. Mine was two-fold: To learn how to market a book I have being published later this year and to learn what agents/editors are seeking in the writers they represent. There were more than forty sessions a day, an overwhelming number.
About 500 people attended. I’d guess that about half had already been published and the other half were somewhere in the first-time process of writing, pitching and hoping. Spending a weekend immersed with so many other writers and talking about writing was pure heaven. I was inspired; I was captivated; I was humbled.
I have a notebook full of take-aways so it’s difficult to sum it all up. I certainly didn’t learn everything I need to know but I came away with some “next steps.” In terms of marketing: Get a web site going and pick one or two social media outlets to use as a start. Several seminars walked me through the nuts and bolts of that, thank goodness.
Pitching an agent or book editor was a huge focus at the San Francisco Writers Conference. I had the opportunity to sit down with two different book editors during a rapid-fire 8-minute consultation session. Good tip: Keep it to about 40 seconds, get your hook up top and explain why you’re the one to tell this story.
Final note: During a panel talk of book editors and agents, they talked about what genres/topics are ending their run and topics they think will be hot for awhile. Overdone: Although domestic suspense stories are hot right now (a la Girl On The Train), expect that market to dry up soon. Also overdone, in YA fiction, take-offs on Hunger Games/Maze Runner/Divergent. What they want more of: Feel-good stories (the recent political season wore readers down), stories from minority voices of all kinds and, in contrast to the above, political thrillers.
Final, final note. Best advice I heard: The worst thing you can do is write for the money. Write what you love and you’ll write the best book that you can write.
Thanks again to Shut Up & Write! for sponsoring me at the San Francisco Writers Conference!