By Stacy Jerger (@ApoideaEdits)
On the weekend of June 6th and 7th, I attended the Bay Area Book Festival in Berkeley. Aside from the awesome events, the weather was sunny and beautiful. Surrounded by book people, and the warm breeze blowing, I felt like I was walking in a nice dream. This is one of the reasons why I love living in the Bay Area.
There were so many panels to choose from about writing, books, and publishing. I think it’s important to keep up with what people in this business are saying. Here’s a small recap of the discussions I attended on both days. See Part 1: The Business of Publishing and Part 2: Author-Driven Publishers.
Book Publishing’s Emerging Middle Ground
Phil Cousineau (Burning the Midnight Oil), April Eberhardt, Jan Johnson, moderated by Brooke Warner (What’s Your Book?)
Attending this panel wasn’t in my original itinerary, but I gladly stumbled into it with one of my fellow editor friends. Here we are having a fab time.
Sometimes it can seem like authors are presented with two options: traditional publishing or self-publishing. But what we’re seeing now are a lot of gray areas in between as authors try new ways of forming their writing careers.
What we’re seeing more and more are hybrid authors.
Nowadays authors have the option of traditionally publishing a book and self-publishing more books on the side. And it's no wonder when there are so many ways to publish: Big 5, mid-level publishers, small presses, vanity presses, self-published authors who brand themselves with a press, and regular indie authors.
Throughout all of these dizzying options, it was good to hear from April Eberhardt, a unique literary agent for hybrid authors who explores alternative models in the complex world of publishing. This, in part, means helping authors navigate traditional routes and new, emerging routes.
When we think of self-publishing, we think of one person doing all of the work. However, there are a number of similarities between self-publishing and traditional—publishing is made up of a team (in this case of the author’s choosing).
When we're looking to build our team of editors, designers, etc. we think of freelancers (Hi, nice to meet you!). In addition to those select experts, there are small organizations offering a way to help us through the publishing process.
Some interesting options mentioned at the panel:
- SheWritesPress – traditional support without owning your project (created by the amazing Brooke Warner. Seriously, I love her)
- BookTrope – a “team publishing” model
- InkShares – a crowdfunded model
The point is, there doesn’t have to be a stigma against self-publishing and hybrid if you’re putting out quality work.
Opening the Doors to Your Creativity: How to Banish Your Inner Editor and Write with Abandon
Chris Baty (No Plot? No Problem!), Rachael Herron (Splinters of Light), Grant Faulkner (Fissures)
I am no stranger to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), but even I get stuck in a writing rut. I wanted to hear this discussion and see Chris Baty, founder of NaNoWriMo who started it all!
Writing 50,000 words in one month can seem crazy, but one month is enough to keep you going and focused, even if you have a busy life. There’s nothing like stumbling into your story and discovering your raw creativity through a forceful rush of writing to meet a word count goal.
- Makes creativity a priority for one month
- Frees you to write badly
- Breaks your goal into small, daily segments
Chris said sometimes it can feel like you’re writing a collage – big chunks of pieces – as you skip parts that bore or stump you. The point is to write a first draft, no matter how messy it is.
Chris also gave an amusing and oh-so-true example of why NaNoWriMo is effective.
If we think about our New Year’s resolutions, we give ourselves an entire year to achieve a goal. Usually that goal falls away by February. But what if you only had one month? Then achieving that goal becomes a committed race to doing what you set out to do. I love this idea.
Rachael Herron had some good tips for staying focused:
- No internet.
- The Freedom software, which locks you out of the internet. Within minutes you get bored and start writing.
- Get out of your house and away from chores that need to get done.
- Go to a café. Believe it or not, being around other productive people makes you productive too.
And speaking of that last one, there’s the 40/20 writing challenge. Write for 40 minutes, and chat/break for 20 minutes. And repeat. When we do this with other writers, it brings out our competitive streak to get more words on the page. I know from experience that it really works.
In addition, the panel asked us to analyze how we're spending our day. We don’t always have the leisure of writing for two uninterrupted hours everyday. But usually we all have fifteen minutes of freedom here and there. Well, we could probably write 400 words in those fifteen minutes instead of wasting idle pockets of time.
And probably the most inspiring part of this discussion had to do with readers. In moments of struggle and doubt, we can remind ourselves that readers are out there who want to read our book. So finish the story!
Thanks, panelists, for an inspiring weekend!
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Stacy Jerger is a freelance developmental editor who's had the privilege of working with fiction authors to organize and strengthen their stories. If you need help with your manuscript, check out her website.