Sunday, August 26, 2007

Conference over

The 15th annual Columbus Writers Conference, which I mentioned several posts ago, is history, and I have to send kudos to the conference's Fearless Leader, Angela Palazzolo, and her crew of dedicated volunteers (and paid staff, too), who do such a great job of moving everything along so smoothly. I've attended a few conferences in my time, and this one truly is one of the best. And this year, the best was even better. The speakers were terrific and very welcoming and helpful to those who attended.

It was a packed two days--and a bit tiring, especially for the staff members who were up all night--but their hard work really paid off. Many of the presenters commented about how much they love this conference because they are treated so well and also because Angela leaves nothing to chance.

Good show, folks!

And now a word to the attendees, who also were wonderful, because if the crowd isn't into it, the whole thing can be a little flat. This group was really into it--active, involved, asking questions, talking to each other and the presenters.

Nonetheless, just a bit of advice. While it's important to know the business of publishing--marketing and promoting, pitching and contracting, the first thing to do is to write the best work you possibly can. Read lots of books, not just about how to find an agent or a publisher or how to write a dynamite query letter (although those things are useful and necessary during your career), but also about the art and craft of writing. All that knowledge about the publishing industry won't help you much if your book isn't any good. Find your voice, try on different points of view, choose and polish your words until you really believe you can't do any more or any better. Let the rest take care of itself at the right time.

And don't believe your mother, your sister, or your friends about the quality of your work. No matter how candid they try to be, they love you, and they will not tell you the whole truth. Find a critique group made up of writers who are serious about craft or pay someone for a professional assessment. Find out what the unbiased observer has to say. Writing well is a great deal harder than it looks. It's a lifelong quest to be an outstanding writer. Take your time.

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