More than 300 writers huddled at classic 8-person rounder tables at the start of the 2017 Agents & Editors Conference hosted by the Writers' League of Texas. The sellout meeting was two afternoons and two mornings of hopeful pitches, two receptions where agents listened for new book concepts, amid hearty hugs and even a squelch of a skeptic on a panel. Writers learned things about the business, as well as more than a few tips about how to create a book that readers want and publishers might buy. Several of our writers from the Workshop were at the conference to take notes and take meetings. Every one of them got requests for samples of their books, so congratulations!
The Andy Ross squelch: At one panel, the speakers all nodded in agreement when the bromide "a good book will find a good home" got trotted out. "I have a different point of view," said agent Andy Ross, to some laughter, which was followed by a retort: "Andy, we have medication for that." Writers came away with the retort in their hopeful pockets when they relayed the exchange. Good books do find good homes, even when agents have to pass on them. Ross said in an interview with the League that for debut fiction, "publishing decisions usually get made based as much on marketing as on literary merit. The best I can do is find authors with talent, telling stories that grab me by the heart." Indie presses, taking good books into the world, were on the minds of many writers who arrived to learn how their beloved stories might become books for sale.
Milo and his Dangerous numbers: A quick report from Publishers Weekly follows up on the claim that the memoir from Milo Yiannopoulos, Dangerous, sold 100,000 copies on Amazon at its launch. Not likely, PW notes. The story is another example of how publishing is unlike most other entertainment businesses. Nobody knows how much any book has sold. There's no Boxoffice Mojo for books.
Structuring using a premise: A thorough article from The Writer about how a premise takes you beyond a situation and into a story. Larry Brooks's craft book Story Engineering handles this well, too.
Print numbers continue to rise: Another Publishers Weekly article said that all categories of books were selling better in 2017 than in 2016. A Dr. Suess favorite continues to lead the pack.
Here's five things Hemingway said we could all do to write better.
Hats off to Octotillo Review for its debut literary journal reading at Malvern Books. Poetry. Fiction. Truth. Great mantra for a journal that includes nonfiction. Kudos to Workshop writers Marilyn Duncan and Flor Salcedo for reading their contributions at Malvern.
Don't tell the kids when they ask, but the concept of bedtime is a social construct. It's also great for reading to them, to get ready to narrate your own audiobook. Or read at a Creation Night at the Workshop.