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Archive for August, 2013

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This summer, I attended a book fair and sat next to a very nice man, who, like all of us, had a stack of his books on the table in front of him. He began telling me how easy it was to self-publish, how he would “never go through what other authors go through” trying for a traditional publisher. He then added that he was becoming quite dismayed by the lack of attention he’d received from the press after sending out media releases announcing his book, and how surprised he’d been by the lack of the big sales he had expected. He then showed me his book, and all it took was one glance at the first page to know what the problem was.

It wasn’t that he self-published it. After all, there are authors who decide to become indie publishers, and do make a decent profit because they produce good books. But the book I was holding in my hands right then was, let’s just say, not good. I asked, as casually as I could, about his writing process, the fiction courses he took, what conferences he liked to attend. He seemed taken aback by the queries. “Oh, I didn’t do any of that. I just sat and wrote it.”

Wrong answer.

Of course, anyone can write. You just sit down, express your thoughts, and create new worlds by simply putting words together. But good, or rather great writing (something real writers strive for, or should), is hard. At times, excruciatingly hard. If it’s not, you’re not writing right. And you’re bound to end up like that nice man I met. Wondering what went wrong with his dream.

Writing takes work. And instruction. Just like anything else you want to do in life. Yes, even the fun stuff. Want to play golf? Learn to knit? Play guitar? Drive a boat? Even riding a bike takes learning, and lots of practice. And you can’t become the person you want to be, whether it’s a teacher, accountant, surgeon . . . or writer, unless you learn the trade. Writing is a business, too. Well, unless you want it to be just a hobby.

Then there’s this: Why take the time and effort to write a book only to have no one buy it, or even read it? (Okay, except your mother. But she’ll get a copy for free, won’t she?)

That’s why there are writers’ conferences. To help you on your way to your writing  goals. They are there, not just to learn how to become a good—or rather great—writer, but also to meet others like you. People who love books and want to be part of that world. People you can learn from, become friends with, and support you when that book of yours is finally published. After writing professionally for more than 25 years, I still attend several conferences or workshops every year. Because I want to keep up with what’s new in the business, and also to continue to improve my work. Plus, it’s just plain fun!

But don’t just take my word for it. Here’s what writer, Barbara McDowell, had to say recently in her popular blog, “Not Everyone’s Innocent”:

“You Are Worth the Investment – Yes, there is a cost to attend a conference. And yes, there are some great online writing sites that provide free craft advice or reasonably priced classes. Yet, the reward for attending in person is priceless. Since I started participating in larger scale writing workshops a few years ago, my craft has risen to another level. It is noticeable to me and others who read my work. The face-to-face contact can further grow friendships that started online, provide experience in networking, allow for discussions of current projects, and free you to see new perspectives.”

Well said, Barbara.

Consider signing up for the Western Reserve Writers Conference at Lakeland Community College in Kirtland, Ohio – one of the longest running conferences in Ohio. Celebrate with us at the big 30th Anniversary event! For all details, see my website, www.deannaadams.com. Click on the “Conference” link at the top.

Hope to see you there. And Happy Writing.

And Learning. 🙂

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