Last month it was my pleasure to present a travel writing, marketing and photography workshop at Word on the Lake Writers’ Festival in Salmon Arm.
Writers are (generally) not shy, so being greeted by total strangers armed with questions, enthusiasm, an eclectic mix of story ideas, and a desire to network, was no surprise.
Like all writers’ conferences, unpublished and published authors, poets, dreamers, dramatists were on hand searching for critiques, publishers, agents. and advice
Diana Gabaldon, author of the popular Outlander Scottish historical fiction series, was in town from Arizona. Between presenting workshops and signing books, Gabaldon was quizzed about the Outlander TV series scheduled for US release on August 9, and the June 10 release of her latest blockbuster, Written In My Own Heart’s Blood.
An approachable entertaining headliner, attendees had opportunities to ask about the dynamics driving the author – and her sexy Highland characters.
Gary Geddes, a respected poet, writer and editor, lives on Thetis Island with his wife, novelists and biologist, Ann Erikkson. The breadth of their work enabled writers in those genres opportunities to compare notes, and harvest tips to further works in progress.
C.C. Humphreys, a Salt Spring Island resident, invariably entertains and informs. With a stage background, and an incorrigible sense of humour, this swashbuckling presenter intersperses sage advice with dramatic swordplay.
Salmon Arm novelist Gail Anderson-Dargatz, and Chilean-born Carmen Aguirre demonstrated the scope of writers’ abilities to offer readers local and international drama. Remember when the Pinochet regime dominated the news? “Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter” chronicles Aquirre’s memories of life with revolutionary parents in Chile during that era. Real life drama from a storyteller who survived the tale.
How to approach agents and navigate the publishing industry can be daunting and discouraging. Do you need an agent? When does a writer need an agent, and what’s the secret to choosing one? How do e-publishing and traditional publishing editorial expectations differ?
Carolyn Swayze, W.P. Kinsella’s White Rock literary agent, continues to go from strength-to-strength in a tough market via her own international literary agency. Dispensing candid, practical advice, Swayze gave her audience the low-down on how to realistically proceed, as did Shelagh Jamieson, Director of Publishing and Communications for the Factors Group and managing editor of Mind Publishing.
Howard White, owner of Harbour Publishing, recently bought Douglas & McIntyre. Why? Because, based on statistics, he remains confident that print books are viable and in demand. While not denying the success of e-books, statistics (he says) demonstrate a levelling on the market – a reshaping of new and traditional literary playing fields. Projections that print will be dead by 2020 were, in his estimation, seriously overrated.
A worthwhile discussion for readers and writers.
My own workshop tackled the choppy waters of travel writing, photography, plus how, when, and where, to sell such works. My publishing background shapes my view: offer readers something unique and informative, and expect to be paid for your efforts and expertise.Why should this genre differ from other literary markets?
So, are you a ‘closet writer’ prepared to unleash your magnum opus? An avid bookworm yearning to meeting authors? A writer hunting for an agent? You are in luck!
From community writing and photography groups, to MeetUps (sign up on-line), or conferences such as: The Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts ( Aug. 14-17, 2014)’ , Word on the Lake (May 15 -17, 2015), Vancouver Writers’ Fest ( Oct. 21-26, 2014), Surrey International Writers’ Conference (Oct. 24-26, 2014), or Word on the Lake Writers’ Festival hosted by the Shuswap Association of Writers in Salmon Arm (May 15-17, 2015), British Columbia’s vibrant literary community is ready to embrace you.
Unplug the telly. Reconnect your brain. Plug in to your local writing community. You have a story to tell… and you know it.
Ursula Maxwell-Lewis is a retired editor dedicated to writing, travelling, photography, and reading.