ˈvər-chə-wəlˈdā-vəs Serial storyteller, poetry pusher, digital doodler, flâneur.

Writer’s Digest Conference 2012, Saturday

Day #2 of the Writer’s Digest Conference in the chilly, slightly snowy Big Apple… The mondo snow blizzard promised was not delivered, but you wouldn’t know one way or the other inside of this world-unto-itself hotel and conference center. What follows is a mashup, a digital scrapbook. Enjoy! Read the rest of this entry »

Writer’s Digest Conference 2012, Friday

Thrilled to be returning to New York City this year for another round of Writer’s Digest Conference (WDC12). What follows is a loosely curated overview of the data stream generated over the course of the three day conference. If I’ve overlooked a salacious tidbit, please let me know. I’ll add it in ASAP. Thanks. Enjoy! Read the rest of this entry »

Jane Friedman on the Future of Publishing

Christina Katz: Is the future of publishing bleak? Go ahead and tell us. We can take it.

Jane Friedman: The future of paper-book publishing is bleak. Paper books will become talismans, souvenirs, collectors’ items, or something that “paper sniffers” will insist on buying. I don’t buy into all the sentimentalism for paper books, but there will be a cabal of those types—just enough people to ensure that paper books are an enthusiast or niche product, much like vinyl.

The future of writing, reading, and literacy [however] is bright… (Christina Katz ~ The Empowered Writer)

So begins Christina Katz’s insightful interview with Jane Friedman, former publisher of Writer’s Digest and current visiting professor at The University of Cincinnati. The interview complements Friedman’s publication of The Future of Publishing: Enigma Variations, but employs a more pragmatic, dilated look the present and future of the publishing industry. To my knowledge there are very few as informed, lucid and articulate on this subject, and Katz does an excellent job of amplifying the message that Friedman so lightheartedly explores in her new ebook.

View the collected highlights from Jane Friedman’s ebook launch…  

Jane Friedman’s new book is part publishing world science fiction, part 21st century book fugue and part author-agent-publisher slapstick! Released on April Fool’s Day, it delivers the wisdom that only laughter can conjure…

A Lot of Life

Karl Sprague (@karlsprague) just made my day! I met Karl at the Writer’s Digest Conference in New York City last month, and his sunny, upbeat personality made him irresistible from our first handshake. He’s the quintessential poster boy for the Sunshine State. Here’s what he tweeted me this morning:

You pack a lot of life into a 24 hour period, don’t you? U keep us mentally sedentary folks updated on writing / travel / life

Karl Sprague

Wow. I think I’ll print and frame that when I get home from Costa Rica. Bold font. Hung front and center over my desk. Or my kitchen range. No, maybe nailed to a post by my garden. Hmmm. Duct taped to the wishbone of my windsurfer? Or the handlebars of my bike? Maybe I’ll just memorize it, repeat it like a mantra each morning. Or any time my enthusiasm sags…

I’m serious. What a gift! What validation. What encouragement. I wonder if Karl had any notion at all how his quick message would impact me. I’d like to think he did. He’s magnanimous, wouldn’t miss an opportunity to give, encourage, thank. And yet, I’m guessing he didn’t. I’m guessing he typed and sent that tiny little tweet out into the ether without thinking too much about it. That’s also the kind of fellow he is, generous with complements but totally unselfconscious about his generosity. Second nature. The kind of guy who smiles by default, laughs to relax, encourages because it’s his instinct.

Thank you, Karl. I’m not sure I could summarize my life’s ambitions better!

Mentors & Mavericks: Writer’s Digest Conference 2011

On January 21-23 I attended the 2011 Writer’s Digest Conference. I arrived focused on my book, my book pitch and my publishing goals. I left focused on new friends and acquaintances, a community of writers and publishing industry professionals who shared their visions, ambitions, guidance and encouragement. Listen to my wide wandering reflection on this transformation or read audio transcription.

I’ve collected the social media artifacts from those three days into an illuminating if cumbersome archive of the event:

I’ll continue to curate and weave my commentary into this collaborative coverage in the days ahead. Please contact me (@virtualDavis) to recommend blog posts, etc. that I’ve overlooked. Thanks!

The highlight of the Writer’s Digest Conference was the people. I’m referring to both the  presenters and the other attendees. As a writer, I find that it’s all too easy to disconnect — to become isolated — not socially but professionally. And yet, I love to connect and interact. I yearn for feedback and criticism and guidance and encouragement. This is a big reason why I teach, act, blog, flinflan, tweet and tell stories. Writing demands connecting and community. Last weekend’s conference delivered both, engaging me directly with writers, readers, publishing veterans and innovators.

In addition to the curated archives above, I’ll blog on several of the most memorable presentations over the next week or two. I’d like to start today by acknowledging one presenter who profoundly impacted me, Jane Friedman (@janefriedmanThis woman’s a dynamo! Behind those coquettish ringlets and a smile that feels like a bear hug from an old friend, Jane Friedman is all genius. No joke. And not only publishing-smart, but savvy-smart. And generous-smart.

You see, I was Friedman’s student even before attending her “Your Publishing Options” session on Saturday morning. She didn’t know it; she didn’t even know me. But her No Rules blog has been a critical component of my crowdsourced MFA in recent months. Then, a little over a week ago, I attended her “3 Secrets for Selling Your Nonfiction Book Live Webinar“. Ninety minutes of real-time Friedman instructing me how to compose an effective book query. Great class!

She answered questions and disected queries submitted by participants in the webinar. My learning curve went vertical. But the most helpful was yet to come. I’d mentioned to Friedman that I’d be pitching my book at #wdc11, so she revised my bloated book overview into an amuse-bouche to tempt literary agents during the Pitch Slam. And she did so almost immediately despite the fact that she was preparing for her battery of presentations and traveling halfway across the country. She communicated and encouraged me via three separate social media channels. All, without having ever met me!

In short, Friedman had won my gratitude and admiration even before her Saturday morning presentation on traditional publishing, niche presses and self-publishing. Then she proceeded to deliver what was easily the most organized, efficiently delivered and content-rich presentation that I attended all weekend. She observed that all three publishing options are relevant today (“they’re almost all on equal footings now”) and mapped out the pros and cons for each. She instructed us to evaluate how we connect with readers in order to select the publishing channel most compatible with our own strengths. Although the self-publishing route demands the greatest entrepreneurial spirit, Friedman emphasized that all three require writers to actively market and promote their work. Nobody is exempt.

Friedman illuminated the dark nooks and crannies of today’s publishing world while empowering a capacity audience of aspiring writers to chart their own course. She acknowledged that it helps to have a “partner” or mentor in the publishing community, and I realized why she’d already had such a profound impact on me. Her blog and webinar are the closest I’ve come to having a writing mentor since college, half a lifetime ago!

I’ve written since high school; I’ve taught writing; I’ve edited and published online and offline journals; and I’ve even mentored others. But I’ve never sought out an experienced, confident coach to help me become a published author. Why not?

I suppose, like many writers, I’ve identified the writing practice with solitude, with head down focus and perseverance, with forging my own course. I suppose, like many writers, I’ve been stubborn and overconfident that I can (must?) navigate this adventure independently.

But Jane Friedman and Dan Blank and Richard Nash and Patricia V. Davisand Al Katkowsky and a half dozen literary agents and several dozen writers grabbed me, jerked my blinders off and showed me that I’m not alone on this journey. We’re a community full of wise mentors and inspiring mavericks. Writers who opt out of this community are sacrificing the very guides, resources, and opportunities which can accelerate their progress as writers. And they are overlooking the friendship and encouragement of the most compatible colleagues out there!

And so, I return to the Adirondacks, to my desk, to my manuscript. But unlike my writing practice before the Writer’s Digest Conference, I have discovered a new passion, focus, strategy and community. I am now ready to seek out the mentors and mavericks who will shape my adventure. I’m ready to embrace my fellow adventurers, starting with a warm “Thank you!” to everyone I met at the Writer’s Digest Conference and to those of you who followed along via #wdc11. And I am ready and eager to bear hug all of you who follow, support, critique, encourage and teach me via TwitterFacebook, the virtualDavis blog and my Flinflanerie newsletter. Thank you!

Writer’s Digest Conference 2011, Part #3

The Pitch Slam looms ever nearer!

After a parade of supercharged presentations this morning, the Writer’s Digest Conference 2011 has swung into full swing. The conference rooms are packed! Here’s what’s on deck for this afternoon:

  • How to Be an Author in a World Where Everyone Is a Writer: Editor and publisher Richard Nash on the opportunities in post-traditional publishing.
  • 10 Essential Things You Must Know to Craft an Effective Query: The infamous Query Shark, Janet Reid, teaches you how to write a kick-ass query.
  • Effective Strategies for Producing Yourself Online & Growing Readership: Presented by David Carnoy, April Hamilton, and Jane Friedman as moderator.
  • The Art of the Page Turner: Hallie Ephron
  • Pitch Slam (58 Literary Agents)
  • Three Hurdles to Publishing Success No One Tells You About: Phil Sexton, the publisher of Writer’s Digest—and a man with experience across sales, marketing, editorial, AND authorship—draws back the curtain on the inner workings of the publishing industry.

Are you ready for the Pitch Slam?

What follows is a beta mashup from Saturday afternoon’s sessions. I’m curating digital artifacts from Twitter, blogs, etc. to tell the digital story of Writer’s Digest Conference 2011, but I’m sure to miss great content. Please tweet me (@virtualDavis) or contact me directly with links to great tweets, blog posts, videos, etc. so that I can add them. Thanks!

Writer’s Digest Conference 2011, Part #2

The Writer’s Digest Conference 2011 has already exceeded my expectations by a factor of three. At least! If you’re just joining me, check out yesterday’s coverage of day one which included these presentations:

  • The Future of Publishing: Don’t Give Up On Books: Richard Curtis is a sage voice amidst the noise, and a longtime agent.
  • Pitch Perfect: Chuck Sambuchino on pitching a manuscript to agents
  • Branding Yourself: Dan Blank gives us this rare and valuable opportunity for writers to get some of the best wisdom out there on marketing and community building.

On this crisp Saturday morning a strengthening Pitch Slam undercurrent — fueled by Chuck Sambuchino’s presentation yesterday and literary agent Janet Reid’s selachimorphic pitching pointers — is whipping up the waters. But before writers and agents start speed dating this afternoon, the morning is packed with compelling presentations:

As the pre-conference buzz transforms into real-time conference buzz, more and more participants are commenting and covering the event via social media. What follows is a beta mashup from Saturday morning’s sessions. I’m curating digital artifacts from Twitter, blogs, etc. to tell the digital story of Writer’s Digest Conference 2011, but I’m sure to miss great content. Please tweet me (@virtualDavis) or contact me directly with links to great tweets, blog posts, videos, etc. so that I can add them. Thanks!

Writer’s Digest Conference 2011, Part #4

Yesterday afternoon at Writer’s Digest Conference 2011 was a game-changer for most participants, indeed for everyone that I’ve spoken to so far. Top notch presenters packing our heads and To Do lists with critical advice. And then the much anticipated opportunity to pitch our manuscripts to multiple literary agents while the coaching is still fresh. Exhilarating, empowering, humbling, encouraging, exhausting…

It was an intense two hours. Personally, the Pitch Slam offered some of the most important feedback and inspiration in my writing experience. Smart, attentive agents telling me what I can do, must do, will do. A road map. And opportunities. Whether or not agents expressed interest in your manuscript, their feedback was priceless. An opportunity to learn how to proceed.

I had fascinating conversations with other writers last night about what they gained from the experience. Even those who were disappointed not to have received as much interest as they’d hoped were grateful for the guidance and feedback they received. Many others were practically giddy with fresh encouragement and hope kindled by the interest of literary agents.

The positive vibe continued this morning, the final day of Writer’s Digest Conference 2011. Here are the offerings:

  • How to Use Social Media to Get Noticed and Sell Your Work: Dan Blank, Brent Sampson, Kate Rados, Moriah Jovan, and Guy Gonzalez as moderator on a panel on using social media effectively to build your platform
  • Writers and Mobile Apps: The Big Opportunity: Question of the Day creator Al Katkowsky on the mobile app opportunity for writers.
  • Showing & Telling: The old adage, “Show, don’t tell” is wrong. Find out why from an experienced novelist, Laurie Alberts.
  • The Kindle Publishing Workshop: This is a detailed and technical walk-through of how to get your work on the Kindle (without a publisher) presented by April Hamilton.
  • Book or Bestseller: Which Will You Choose?: Patricia V. Davis on working with agent, publishers and booksellers to build your writing career.
  • The Writer’s Compass: Using Story Maps to Build Better Fiction: Nancy Ellen Dodd on story mapping.
  • Revision: Learn How to Love It: Only James Scott Bell could turn a thing that most writers hate into something that you can attack with confidence—and yes, even a bit of love.
  • Successfully Promoting Your Book: Kevin Smokler, Brent Sampson, Kate Rados as moderator present this panel full of personality, wit, and damn good advice.
  • Success Strategies and Systems for Writing & Selling More: The lovely and inspiring (and productive!) Sage Cohen offers 10 ways to exponentially increase the results and rewards of your writing life.
  • Creating a Backstory: How and Why It Can Make or Break Your Novel: Hallie Ephron tells us how to use backstory to make a reader care about a character (rather than slow down the story).
  • Blogging as a Platform and Publicity Machine: Dan Blank on blogging to build your platform.
  • The More Things Change… (Benjamin LeRoy)

What follows is a beta mashup from Sunday morning’s sessions. I’m curating digital artifacts from Twitter, blogs, etc. to tell the digital story of Writer’s Digest Conference 2011, but I’m sure to miss great content. Please tweet me (@virtualDavis) or contact me directly with links to great tweets, blog posts, videos, etc. so that I can add them. Thanks!

Writer’s Digest Conference 2011, Part #1

The Writer’s Digest Conference 2011 (NYC 1/21-23) promised exactly the sort of publishing nuts and bolts I’ve been looking for:

  • Getting Published in the Digital Age: How to get published in the digital age!
  • The Future of Publishing: What is the future of publishing?
  • Platforms and Social Media: Why do writers need a platform and how do they build that strong platform?
  • Perfecting Your Pitch: Learn how to perfect your pitch at the Writer’s Digest pitch slam!
  • Honing Your Craft: Learn how to write a page turner in any genre!

It even offered a speed-dating-esque Pitch Slam for writers to practice manuscript pitching techniques taught in the presentation sessions. Throw in the opportunity to meet other writers and the single best opportunity to crowdsource Rosslyn Redux among a targeted book audience, and I’ve been anticipating the Writer’s Digest Conference the way teenagers anticipate summer vacation.

And I wasn’t alone! The pre-conference buzz grew frenzied in the days leading up to Friday’s opening session. What follows is a beta mashup from Friday’s sessions. I’ve aggregated and curated digital artifacts from Twitter, blogs, etc. to tell the digital story of Writer’s Digest Conference 2011. I hope you enjoy the journey. And I genuinely hope you’ll let me know what I’ve missed so that I can include and preserve it for writers who were unable to attend the conference. Please tweet me (@virtualDavis) or contact me directly if you come across great tweets, blog posts, videos, etc. that I should add. Thanks!

All the #wdc11 graffiti that’s fit to curate! I’m gathering and sorting the most compelling digital artifacts from the 2011 Writer’s Digest Conference taking place in New York City on January 21-23. The data wave is swelling, so I’m sure to miss plenty. Don’t hesitate to bring more goodies to my attention.

All the #wdc11 graffiti that’s fit to curate! I’m gathering and sorting the most compelling digital artifacts from the 2011 Writer’s Digest Conference taking place in New York City on January 21-23. The data wave is swelling, so I’m sure to miss plenty. Don’t hesitate to bring more goodies to my attention.

Write. Book. Pitch. Agent. Right?

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Time to start shopping Rosslyn Redux around to agents.

This is a first time experience for me. New territory. Lots of learning. Risks. Excitement. And I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that there’s a fair dose of anxiety in the mix. Totally out of my comfort zone. (Which is actually a damned exhilarating place to be!)

On Saturday I’ll be participating in the Writer’s Digest Conference Pitch Slam and I’ve been exploring what constitutes a good book pitch to a literary agent. Turns out there’s no one magic formula, but I’ve been receiving lots of helpful advice. Here’s a glimpse at some of the more interesting (and easily shareable) tips. Read the rest of this entry »

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