5 Superb Tips from San Francisco Writers Conference

Pictured above: Patricia V. Davis and myself in San Francisco, outside of Fog City Diner

I took my first trip to San Francisco to speak and attend the San Francisco Writers Conference. It was a fabulous event, and I covered as much as I could on Twitter.

Thanks to the work of Jeanne V. Bowerman (Writer’s Digest’s favorite Twitter pimp), you can download a rough transcript of #sfwc Twitter tips by clicking here: SFWC.doc (195.5 KB)

Here are my favorite 5 tips from presenters that appeared on Twitter:

  1. Philippa Burgess: You need to win the hearts and minds of people before you win any dollars. Philippa gave a terrific (standing-room only) presentation on how authors can brand themselves. This particular tip conveys how important it is to build an audience interested in what you have to say before attempting to sell a book (to editors, agents, or readers).
  2. Alan Rinzler: Early intervention is really critical for a writer to get good feedback (from a professional, not family/friends). This was the most often repeated advice, and longtime editor Rinzler made a passionate and convincing case for it. (So did Patricia Davis, through the metaphor of a three-eyed baby.)
  3. (First tweeted by @Frannydink): Steve Berry, who has now sold 10 million books, was rejected 85 times before he sold first book. Speaks for itself. Later Berry commented that 10 revisions is not enough. More like 60 is what he recommends.
  4. Agent Ted Weinstein: Writers, think of yourself as multimedia empire – as a producer (in charge of your own success). Depending on or waiting for publishers to create an audience or readership for you is likely to end in failure.
  5. Patricia Davis: Critical – Writers shouldn’t randomly blog but blog on material geared toward (book) target audience. I’m just as guilty as the next person when I tell writers vaguely to get a “blog,” without really explaining how or when it is meaningful. Patricia did a great job explaining how a blog can be helpful when you’re writing material that appeals to your core audience (those people who ultimately want to read your books—not editors/agents).

For anyone who attended the conference and has tips or observations to share, please leave in the comments! Or, if you followed along on Twitter, share your favorite Tweets.

Below: My first cable car ride!

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6 thoughts on “5 Superb Tips from San Francisco Writers Conference

  1. Jane Friedman

    Laura – Really appreciate your comment and checking in here, thank you! Your experience speaks to power of audience development.

    Theresa – The best thing I can do is point you to other MG/YA authors who have done this well. Two examples are John Green (sparksflyup.com, look for his YouTube stuff) and Megan McCafferty (look for her retro-blog http://www.meganmccafferty.com).

    You want to create media/interactions/"stuff" that tie into the themes/topics and overall tone of what you write and who you are. What issues do your books address? What kind of experience can you create that’s not defined or limited by a book — and is, in fact, better suited to a blog or a website?

    Don’t be limited in thinking about yourself as someone who writes & publishes book after book after book. What can you do online that would interest the audience you want to reach? Hopefully you understand the things that really engage this age group, or otherwise you wouldn’t be writing for them.

  2. Laura Novak

    I sat next to you at virtual book tour session. You are right on about what these various sessions taught us and how critical Social Media is now to authors. I wanted to tell you then, but we both got pulled away, about how life-altering scribd.com has been for me. I learned about it at LitQuake in SF last fall. In only three months, I now have more than 10,000 subscribers to my page; I have nearly 17,000 reads of my work and I’ve posted the first chapters of my novel, as well as my many NYT’s articles for viewing. Scribd.com is more than social networking. It has been, for me, just the start of understanding how viral a writer’s work can and must be. And I would love to talk with you more about it any time. Thank you for writing this great piece about SFWC. It was an excellent conference. Cheers, Laura in California.


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