In a blur, the week was gone and another Santa Barbara Writers Conference committed to memory. Five MarketingtheMuse workshops, eleven guest speakers, two moderated panels, a few overnight guests and one pizza party later, this writer is pooped.

The 2013 SBWC was a success. My workshops filled up every day with writers wanting to know more about hookable openings, publishing options and marketing strategies for platform building. Several writers hung out all week long. Of that group, three were solid story tellers. Of the two manuscripts I submitted for the SBWC writing contest, one snagged first place for a piece she crafted during conference week. Inspired by listening to the Perks of Being A Wallflower author/screenwriter/director Stephen Chbosky’s keynote address, she produced a polished piece of prose in five days. Now that’s talent.

MarketingtheMuse guest speakers delivered what they know about popping yourself above all this noise out here. My Google Indie Authors TV co-host Jason Matthews joined me in a session on today’s publishing options. Jason walks the walk. He’s got several indie books published and of them, How To Make, Market & Sell eBooks All for Free sells vigorously.  Indie book publicist & writer Margaux Hession talked ‘publicity’ using a powerpoint presentation to highlight important points. One of the many takeaways from her presentation: Do not ignore the connection between your story and the business/nonprofit world. Lots of potential gold to mine here, writers.

Indie & small press authors/memoirists Linda Joy Myers, Don’t Call Me Mother, Eleanor Vincent, Swimming with Mayaand Madeline Sharples, Leaving the Hall Light On showed us just how hard they work to solidify their platforms. If you are a memoirist and you haven’t joined  National Association of Memoir Writers, consider subscribing. Founded by Ms. Myers, it’s a solid network for memoirists.  As I listened to these authors tell their stories, I felt such an appreciation for this narrative nonfiction form. ‘Rising from the ashes’ stories reach out and touch communities of readers. For me, the best memoirists form ‘therapeutic alliances’ with readers who relate, who understand or want to understand. Memoirs make for powerful book club dialogue-another platform building avenue these authors also embrace.

Longtime writer Nancy Klann told us how she snags reviews -lots of them-for her novel, The Clock of Life, a literary tale about how the past influences the present. Nancy made it clear that writing the novel is the easy part. When asked how many hours she markets, without hesitation she replied “It’s my full-time job.” Passion drives these writers, not money. You know you’re a writer when you can say that and these published authors can and do. Eleanor Vincent blogged about her guest appearance in my workshop in a piece titled Networking For Writers. Read Madeline’s blog about why conferences matter-it’s not to sell books-it’s to network. 

Indie editor, filmmaker and good buddy Jennifer Silva Redmond sailed up the coast to guest in my workshop. We did a Pitch Witch session that was well received, reminding us both that collaborating is fun when you have the right person next to you. She and hard working Indie author, Gayle Carline, discussed their author/editor relationship. Gayle hired Jennifer to edit her latest, From the Horse’s Mouth, a memoir told by Snoopy, the show horse whose injury may mean the end of his ‘show’ time. Gayle crafted the story after pitching the concept in our 2011 SCWC Pitch Witch session. Jennifer refined Gayle’s pitch, dubbing it ‘the Black Beauty of the 21st century.‘ Soon after that session, they began working together. Speaking of hard work, no one works harder or is more supportive of her tribe members than multi-published author/columnist, Gayle Carline. This was her third MarketingtheMuse guest author appearance. What does she get for her efforts? Hopefully, a broader reader base and for sure, one lunch paid for by yours truly. Talk about a deal. Thank you, Gayle. Someday I’ll be able to pay for your expertise with cold hard cash.

Tiffany Yates Martin, the editor who critiqued SweetSpot – my novel now on hold – in two and one half hours showed my crowded workshop just what makes an editor tick. In addition to a 30 minute powerpoint presentation that included an overview of macro and micro editing, Tiffany critiqued the work of thirteen writers. Each writer read one page and then surrendered it to SBWC overhead projector & Tiffany’s camera. In a flash, she red penned each page and made suggestions. Plus, it was fun.

I’m pleased to say, my moderation of a literary agent panel received high marks. Seasoned N.Y.C. agent Paul Fedorko said it was the best panel he’s been on. Why? “No bullshit,” replied Fedorko. That was my intention. Fedorko and Toni Lopopolo were joined by new friends, agent/publicist Erin L. Cox, agent Taylor Martindale and St Martin’s Press editor, Kat Brzozowski. These ladies didn’t try to sugar coat the state of our industry. Martindale said, “Writers live in the moment of no.”  I’d add, perhaps now more than ever. It’s tough to get published via traditional publishing houses and we appreciated this panel’s candor.

My platform building panel consisted of media strategists, writers & colleagues Lisa Angle, Jason Matthews and Kit Steinkellner, who is now another new friend. Kit is a millennial, a savvy young writer/bloggerwho’s coming into her own. With plays already produced and a film project that starts shooting soon, Kit’s blogs are wildly popular. Plus, she’s just divinely nice to be around.  Kit expressed how I feel about the alliances she makes online. “They’re my friends,” she said. Friends? Tribe members? Peeps? ‘Call them what you want but go find them’ is the takeaway from this panel.  Kit summed up the process. “Platform building, at its core, is about building relationships.” 

My thanks to all who rocked my workshop all week long including all my new MarketingtheMuse subscribers. Starbucks gift cards are coming to those guest speakers I didn’t take to lunch…and you know who you are.


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