To provide an full overview of the weekend would just be too much to cover here. I guess I'm just not enough of a journalist. But overall, I came away with the following jewels of wisdom:
"I am a writer and I'm proud of it!" The first thing we had to do was to proclaim this openly and verbally. Though I would've liked to have stated, "I'm a struggling writer and I'm proud of it!" ;)
Not everyone is going to understand what it means to be a writer. Don't be discouraged when your closest friends or family members don't read your latest creations. The need to write and create comes from within. Recognize that and be willing to strengthen the creative self.
The industry is undergoing major changes! I thought that if I even mentioned electronic publishing or Amazon.com that I would have been kicked out. It was a pleasant surprise to hear that so many authors are moving in that direction. Even the Editors are embracing the movement. However, the big warning from almost everyone was, "Garbage in equals garbage sales!" In order to be successful at self publishing on electronic media, an author still needs to utilize a professional editor and artist for the cover (and internal illustrations if needed). Readers will not put up with shoddy work, poor grammar, spelling errors, or in-consistent story flow. It still takes a bit of an investment to make it all work and to be successful at it. Point noted!
Those who self publish also need to be good at formatting their work for use on the various platforms. Several of the sessions I attended actually went into the details on how to format the project for uploading to the various media outlets. I'm sure glad that I'm computer savvy. There were a lot of glazed over eyes during those sessions. Along with those topics were the discussions of how important social marketing is. How to use Twitter, Facebook, Blogging, and other processes for promoting your work, while at the same time not letting it dominate your time and take away from writing.
Out of all the sessions that I attended, I think the most enjoyment and beneficial aspects were from hearing how everyone else got started and what they were doing to be successful at writing. Almost every session was presented by an author who was finding success in both "New York" style publishing and "ePublishing". Even the Keynote speaker, Carla Neggers (over 60 books), gave us a little insight on how she got started.
Was it worth the time and cost? Totally! I highly recommend a writing conference to any budding writer. It was a great boost to my confidence and gave me a lot of great ideas.
Speaking of good ideas, I guess my request for pictures of the desks of published authors fell on blind eyes. No one responded! I guess maybe most authors feel that their desks are a secret ingredient to successful writing? Well, if I do manage to get some pictures, I'll be sure to share them here.
Now to get to all those "To Do" items I came up with during the conference.