The Willamette Writers Conference is prime for networking. Most guests are authors seeking agents, publishers, and advice. As a publisher, Ooligan Press came on Friday seeking writers (and potentially agents representing Northwest writers). Last year, we met Karelia Stetz-Waters when she pitched her coming-of-age novel set against the backdrop of Ballot Measure 9, the most violent anti-gay political campaign of the 1990s. We fell in love with the manuscript and went through a developmental edit with the author, signing the contract for the book this summer. Did we meet anyone special at WWC 2013? We’ll see. We heard some promising pitches and have to review the manuscripts.
The Friday lunch speaker was Jennifer Lauck, a journalist and nonfiction writer transitioning to novelist. “I have written and published four memoirs. I have written and not published four novels,” as she put it. Her method of “getting it done” when it comes to drafts is to put a sticky note on her computer with the page number she ended on yesterday. She doesn’t allow herself to move away until she writes ten more pages. Then she scratches the old number out and writes that updated amount on the sticky note.
Many writers struggle with beginnings and endings. “Get to the ending so you know what went wrong,” Lauck said. “Write through the confusion. You can’t know the beginning until you get to the end.” To memoirists she advised, “Where in your life did you, on your own steam, make a difference. That’s your heroic moment. That’s your ending.”
The other Ooligan students and I had the luck of sitting at the lunch table with a type of writer that is very valuable to us: a reviewer! We met Cindy Hudson of Mother Daughter Book Club. Since we are a publisher of young adult literature, we’re hoping she will be interested in a couple of our recent and upcoming books. I recommend checking out the thoughtful reviews on her website. If you’re a writer or publisher of books that would appeal to both mothers and daughters, get in touch.
I had the opportunity to attend a few of the conference classes offered on Friday. The highlight for someone in publishing like me was “Every Trick in the Book for Optimizing Your Presence and Sales on Amazon” with William Hertling. I admired his outline, shown below for the launch month of a book. He has some great advice for keeping on track and improving the buzz about a book. It’s good guidance for both authors and book marketers. You can see all the slides from his presentation here.
We’re looking forward to Willamette Writers Conference 2014!