Writers Conference Wrap-Up

I walked in 10-minutes late to the Fourth Annual KDL Writers Confrence this morning. The wife was working and had our car with her, leaving me to wrangle a ride to the event. So I missed any introduction/welcome that may have gone on. Tricia McDonald was at the podium doing a little thing she called, “Writers Block or, Why Am I Still Staring at a Blank Page?

  • Are you’re doubts your own or those placed there by others?
  • Overcome the doubts by identifying the origins of those doubts.
  • Create a physical manifestation of your ‘gremlins’ so that you can ‘handle’ them (i.e. get a hold on your doubts and shove them in a drawer.).
  • Come prepared to the page.
  • Give yourself a warm-up period.
  • Get control of your gremlins.

Next up was author and humorist, Mike Ball, doing his “How to Rite More Gooder: Don’t Forget to Learn the Craft” routine.

  • Be curious
  • Pay attention
  • Love Language
  • Make Stuff Up
  • Read
  • Read some more
  • Read what you write (your genre and your work)
  • Become a subject matter expert (i.e. know your shit)
  • Know who the main people are in your field, what they’re doing, and why they are the big fish.
  • Write a ‘Radio Play’ to work with nothing but dialogue
  • Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

Then it was on too, “What is Indie Publishing? Would it Be Right For Me?” presented by Tom Saunders of Glendower Media, with a little help from Mike Ball

  • wherewriterswin.com
  • Orders of business: First get an editor, then get an agent, then find a publisher.
  • He didn’t say it, but I have a note in my book to, Write three books a year.
  • Copyright may not be truely necessary for self publishing.
  • UPC Bar codes and ISBN numbers are different things and you’ll need both

Next were the owners of Gut Check Press with “Traditional Publishing/Going Commando: What to Expect from Both, How to Pursue” presented by Zach Bartels and Ted Kluck.

I didn’t get much out of these two guys at all. They were likable enough and seemed like they were having fun doing their thing making their books. But their agenda seemed to be to simply show us their product line and maybe sell some books.

And then it was time for the lunch break. I went to First Wok and my fortune cookie seemed to be telling me something….
…I’m choosing to interpret that as, you’re not too bad at this whole writing thing, it might amount to something if you actually did it. But maybe that’s just me. Maybe, it’s just telling me to go fishing. And back to the conference.
After lunch they gave us chips and salsa from Qdoba and threw in a couple platters of cookies for good measure. We all settled in to listen to a pair of lovely ladies; publicist, Robin Barnett, and author, Jenny Trout, who talked about “Reaching the Media, Reaching Your Readers.” Which was a talk about social and traditional media as it relates to the writer.

  • I should reinstall my list of blog links on the website
  • Engage with other writers online
  • Networking is HUGE
  • Know your markets, know your venues
  • Use your library and librarians as a resource, they know some shit

They were followed by, Joanne Bailey-Boorsma, editor of On-the-Town, and freelance writer, K.D. Norris. “So You Think You’re Good Enough to Get Paid?: the Trials and Tribulations of Freelance Writing

This was a rather disorganized mess of a presentation that basically said, if you’re good you’ll make a living, but freelance work is hard and don’t count on it paying the bills. I felt like I’d heard it all before. And it felt like K.D. was trying to sell himself to us, which seemed unnecessary.

The last guest was, Karen Neumair, senior literary agent, Credo Communications, who gave us the lowdown on “Landing a Literary Agent.

I took no notes for her presentation, though she talked for an hour about agent percentages (15%), response times for queries, and right-setting author expectations. It was a good talk, but I think I’ve read too much of this stuff and didn’t really get much out of it.

And so wrapped up the Writers Conference. I didn’t think it was as good as last years, or at least I didn’t get as much out of it. But then I’ve been reading about writing and publishing for 30-years, so I’m pretty well informed. It felt like the presenters were trying to sell me their books as much as teach me anything, which I could do without. And lastly, I recognize that this was in Grand Rapids and that religion is huge here, but there was a pretty heavy Christian Publishing bent to the whole thing that did nothing for me. All in all, I’m still impressed by what KDL does with this conference, and it’s 100% free, so who can complain. I would have changed a few things, but it’s not my show to put on. Great job to everyone involved, I applaud you all.
Once again, I was disappointed in my wallflower attitude. I really need to take these opportunities to find some other writers to talk with. But I didn’t. Maybe next year.
I should add some links here, but it’s late and I can’t be bothered to google all these people, so google them yourself until such time as I correct this matter.

0 responses to “Writers Conference Wrap-Up”

  1. I agree that the guys from Gut Check were entertaining but didn’t offer new information. May have been bad timing considering the previous speaker spoke about Indie Publishing as well.

  2. This was my second year going and I’m still impressed that KDL manages to put such a quality program together for free. I had a good time.