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How to Succeed in Today's Publishing Industry (Takeaways from Conference)

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By noon on Saturday, attendees were commenting that they'd already gotten their money's worth. I consider that a big win!

If you missed the event, you can still get some valuable takeaways:

And most remarkably, Meryl Evans sent me a note to help attendees make sense of what to do next! See below. My big thanks to her generosity.

So You Went to the Writer's Digest Conference. What Are You Going to Do Now?
by Meryl Evans

In the Writer's Digest Conference blog, Robert Lee Brewer reported on something he overheard:

So, earlier today, in the hallway, I overheard one writer speaking to another. She said, "I don't have the time to handle all this."

I was not surprised to hear this kind of statement at a conference on publishing and marketing and communicating and podcasting and basically everything we've been going over since Friday. But, of course, I started thinking about how successful writers should be, at least, trying.

Well, after a long pause, she continued speaking to the other (very good listener) writer, "But I have to make the time if I'm serious about making this work."

The writer caught on. Not all of us think about how we're going to make the most of a conference. Or we feel overwhelmed that it paralyzes us preventing us from taking action. We bring home all the notes we took filing them away only to never see them again. Then the least we can hope for is that our brains remembered a few key points while we wrote or typed them and apply them.

Review Your Notes

Take five or ten minutes to look over your notes. You can handle that, right? As you review your notes, pick one to three things you want to use. Post them in your to do list or whatever you use on a regular basis so you can remember and practice. Give yourself a deadline—you're a writer, you can handle it. Check off each item as you do them.

Got 'em all done? Great. Now, go back to your notes to cross them off. Pick one to three more things to try. Repeat.

That wasn't so bad, was it? Turning loads of notes into a couple of doable tasks makes a difference.

Write One Article
You probably walked away from the conference with a few article ideas. Rather than trying to do it all, I pick one topic and write the article within a couple of days after returning home. You can make it a blog entry, an article for your publication, whatever. In writing the article, those ideas will stick with you. Plus, you gain a bonus of sharing that with others.

When you finish the article, revisit the other article ideas and what you can do with them. Rather than feeling spread thin with all your article ideas, you focus on one article at a time while putting the rest away for later. You've captured the ideas on paper or on your laptop. They won't disappear. Well, unless you delete them, lose them or trash them.

Key Points from WD Conference
You can find great tweets from the conference by searching Twitter for WDC09. Here are some highlights worth remembering, captured from tweets and the blog so you don't have to read it all:

  • Christina Katz: Platform is everything you do with your expertise. So many tools are available; must prioritize, maximize your time. Do you see yourself as the producer of your writing career and take 100% responsibility for your success?
  • Jane Friedman: Platform comes first! Book second. Without a strong platform and topic—creating demand—your book will have a difficult time finding its place in the market. Any changes publishers want to make to the book is what they believe will help increase book sales. They basically want what's economically best for your book—and that's ultimately a good thing.
  • Scott Sigler and Seth Harwood: Once you show you can move (sell) books, publishers will take notice. That's why giving away your first book online for free and building up an audience is essential to getting publishers—who have ignored you for years—to wake up and realize your talent and value. "You are the best person to sell your book," says Hardwood.
  • Alice Rosengard: Sees organization as a common problem with nonfiction proposals.
  • David Mathison (Be the Media) keys: Have a direct relationship with your audience. Control your rights. Repurpose your content.
  • Chris Brogan: The best way to get a book published is to not try to get a book published. The whole trick about promoting is to not talk about yourself. Learn to talk about other people. Twitter is not about talking; it's about listening.
  • Agent Miriam Kriss: A lot of "overnight successes" are 10 years in the making.
  • Agent Panel (Jessica Sinsheimer, Regina Brooks and Michelle Humphrey): Difference between freelanced editing and traditional editor is the latter cares, has a vested interest in the book. Professionally edited, professionally typeset, professionally designed are critical for success via POD.
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