Coffee Pot Chatter – Part 1

DJ Lutz reporting from the annual writer’s conference…

2:45 PM – I realize the conference is not in the same building as last year. Lesson: read the directions BEFORE you drive 55 miles.

3:00 PM – Found the registration table! Packet in hand, on way to first lecture. Notice the coffee service has not been set up yet. A low murmur is evident. There is a definite disturbance in the Force here.  Lesson: bring coffee next year.

3:30 PM – Lecture begins. Topic: Memoirs. Interesting, although not my genre. That said – over half the discussion was about the publishing industry’s new business model – transmedia storytelling, or simply put: e-books. Very interesting, especially hearing notes taken from recent meetings with the “C Suite” executives at the big Houses in New York. Lesson: As suspected, the gatekeeper isn’t the editor in chief anymore. Now, the digital marketing team has tremendous power in the acquisition decision.

4:00 PM – Someone’s cell phone rings. Eh. What can you do? Of course, why not answer it and converse while the guest is presenting? Lesson: Remember there’s always one in every crowd. Just keep breathing and resist urge to choke.

4:45 PM – Follow-on Q & A. The room was clearly divided, albeit unequally. 10 people under 40 and 40 over 50. The latter group was split into both sides of the digital divide: those who have embraced the Internet and all it can do, and those wanting nothing to do with it. Lesson: You can lead a horse to water…

5:15 PM – Dinner break. Very nice boxed dinner. AND COFFEE!

5:45 PM – Open mic readings. 5 minutes per. Lesson: There is a difference between reading and communicating. Be a communicator.

8:15 PM – Call it a day. Go back to hotel. Lesson 1: park closer tomorrow. Lesson 2: Don’t forget the umbrella. Geez, I have three. You would think at least one would be in the car.

Reflection: The update on industry trends made the conference worth the registration fee. I could write pages on what was said, but let me just give credit to Kristen Lamb and her book We Are Not Alone – the Writer’s Guide to Social Media.  Everything Kristen has said in her book was validated by the literary agent today.

Today’s Final Lesson: If you are serious about joining the ranks of commercially published authors, you must have a platform. The sooner the better. If you aren’t familiar with the term platform, check out Kristen’s book or her website. Think of it this way: when Simon and Schuster reports over 80% of their profit last year was due to e-books, you need to have a platform.

I have work to do.

Tomorrow: the one on one with the agent. Stay tuned!


5 thoughts on “Coffee Pot Chatter – Part 1

    • This conference is held at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia, as part of their lifelong learning series. It is one of two large writer’s conferences held in southeastern Virginia each year. Starts on Friday afternoon and goes through Saturday afternoon. Very worthwhile!

      • There’s a terrific conference in Atlanta twice a year, as well. It begins on Friday evening with informal mingling with agents, barside, and continues until late Saturday afternoon.

      • That’s what’s missing here! I should have thought of it – key word = barside. Time to find the suggestion box!

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