Just recently, I attended a panel hosted by In Good Company Workplaces (IGC) and New York Women Social Entrepreneurs (NYWSE) in Chelsea.
The panelists were from different arenas in the publishing world:
Fauzia Burke - President of FSB Associates, a marketing company.
Marcela Landres – author of ebook, How Editors Think: The Real Reason They Rejected You and the ezine Latinidad.
Alexandra Machinist – a literary agent at Linda Chester Literary Agency
Diane O’Connell – owner of company Write to Sell Your Book which aids writers to brand themselves
The hour panel was truly eye-opening. Being a published writer is no easy feat. Obtaining that literary agent is already tough, as you all already know. There are other avenues to be published like self-publishing. Diane mentioned self-publishing as a way to be published as well as selling one’s book via ebook format.
One misconception unbeknownst to rookies like us is that publishers no longer do all the publicity for your book once it’s published. Most agents and publishers are looking for writers with a platform; someone with a built in audience that will go out and buy your book. This is especially important for non-fiction writers because the market has become so saturated with celebrities who are selling based on their name.
Additionally, some writers think the only way to spread their message or have their work be distributed is through the big publishing houses like Random House, Scholastic, Simon & Schuster and so on but this is not the case. There are many small publishing houses sprouting up every day unknown to us publishing many authors. This is another way to be part of the “published author” club.
The one thing that resonated with me was Fauzia Burke’s advice on writing. She said that writing a book should be an add-on to your already bustling life and not your everything because that one book will Not pay the bills. Alexandra mentioned that this ideal of receiving a huge advance for your first book is all in your dreams. The most that can be paid is about $5,000 and that’s a good deal.
I sat with that and had to evaluate what I was doing, what I would do with my MFA degree, and if I really truly still wanted it. No one is going to pay me to sit in my pjs and write my novels; I’m not Stephen King! I’m still sitting with this and figuring out what else I’d like to do with my life other than writing.
The rest of the panel had great information tidbits. Marcela Landres mentioned competitive writing conferences that are not only ways to hobnob with published writers but also to have them write blurbs for your published work.
The workshops are:
VONA (Voices of Our Nation), a program for people of color was co-founded by Junot Diaz
Macondo, a writing program for published writers to expand their writing founded by Sandra Cisneros
Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference one of the first and oldest writing conferences in the United States started by John Farrar of publishing company Farrar, Straus, and Giroux Inc.
In terms of self-promotion, across the board, they mentioned that the usage of social media will become more prevalent for publicity and marketing and writers should take advantage of that. Because publishing houses will not do all the work, writers have to step it up and promote themselves. If they find they cannot because they are too introverted, they can hire people who do it for them, like Fauzia.
Overall, a very informative panel. I look forward to attending more panels and writing about them for others.