I went to a seminar today on Strategies for getting published, co-presented by Brian Henry and Ryerson university. Basically, the event was a three-person panel featuring a well-known Canadian literary agent, a publishing director for Doubleday Canada, and the founder of a small Toronto-based publishing house, with Brian moderating.
There was some good stuff, which I’m still in the process of sorting through in my head. Each of the panel had their own introductory and closing remarks, but most of the session was Q&A from the thirty or so of us in the audience. A lot of it was stuff that I felt like I’d already heard before, but there were a few new viewpoints thrown in, and reinforcing the traditional wisdom on things like query letters and book doctors isn’t a bad thing – there’s a lot that I’ve heard once but hasn’t been reinforced, so it doesn’t fit in my head as ‘traditional wisdom.’
One good thing that was mentioned by Mike from Insomniac Press relates to this blog and the reason that I founded it in the first place… nearly a year ago? When’s my anniversary, anyway? Anyway, a few times, Mike mentioned the idea that the ‘net is like a lot of tiny little villages or other communities, and that for a writer of any kind to try to build an online audience for his writing, he needs to find the villages where people who’d want to read his books are already living, move in, and start building good relationships with the neighbors.
That’s the sort of thing that I want to do in my platform building, and though this blog is a good start in that direction, it isn’t the entire process. So, I guess I need to keep an eye out for online communities built by science fiction and fantasy readers, and start thinking of putting new content for readers (as opposed to writers) up on the Kelworth Files.
One other bit that pops to my mind was Marilyn Biderman, the agent, talking about her four-page writer’s agreement – how some agents don’t believe that ‘good fences make good neighbors’ and don’t have authors sign a contract, and that looking at some of the contracts in use she found glaring conceptual problems, including the frequent absent of a ‘sunset clause’ describing exactly what happens when the author and the agent wish to part ways. And it was interesting to hear Lynn Henry talk about the realities of championing an author based on a great query letter, when the book is one that will be a tough sell to the publisher’s marketing department.