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announcement-smallFor those of you who write in a flash, Lexington’s Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning is holding a flash fiction contest. The deadline is Monday, July 21, so you need to get a move on! The contest will be adjudicated, there is a reading fee, and monetary prizes will be awarded. Submission is via hard copy. For more details, visit http://carnegiecenterlex.org/event/writing-contest-opportunities/.

 

Writers who have lived in Kentucky (either past or present) or who use Kentucky as subject matter should check out Kentucky Monthly‘s 7th annual writing showcase, Penned 2014. Reprints are allowed; electronic submission is preferred. Detailed guidelines are available at http://www.kentuckymonthly.com/magazine/news-contests/literary-contest/.

(Thanks to ECWG member Chris Kelder for alerting us to these great opportunities!)

During the June meeting, ECWG member Michael Walborn shared some of what he learned at a recent writing conference. He has written the following so that those who weren’t at the meeting can also benefit from his experience. Thanks, Michael!

As an aspiring writer, constantly learning, I hungered to find the answers to questions I had not even thought to ask. My solution: Attend a writer’s conference, May 1-4, in Oklahoma City. Embassy Suites was to be the site of a writer takeover — an entire hotel, with the interior courtyard lined with tables for agents, publishers, and editors for writers to sell their wares. The information available on writing was tremendous, the learning experience excellent.

Upon signing up for the conference, one of the best things available was the opportunity for an experienced editor to read my manuscript and present her findings. During the next four days, in any of the five conference rooms writers like me could pick whichever workshop they wanted to attend. Workshops ranged from “How to compete with the big publishers” to “How to conduct a murder,” with times available to pitch your manuscript to agents and publishers. I selected a number of different workshops and targeted my information download for the Indie or Independent (Self) Publishing route.

How to Compete with the Big Publishers (Jerry Simmons) - Publishers operate under the strict premise of running five to ten thousand copies of a given book for the year in order to generate profit. Independent authors, however, are not bound to such a large printing constraints. Any advance that a signed author receives will be held against the copies not sold. In short, you the author have to pay back money for copies that did not sell. Indie authors should take advantage of big publisher weaknesses in the following areas:

  •  Don’t be afraid to give away free stuff: Your books, etc. Develop your audience.
  •  Use regional markets: Smaller newspapers, smaller radio-stations.
  •  Use regional publishers… Stay out of the big markets.
  •  React quickly to business trends – You the indie author can print 50 copies.
  •  Your book cover should be top notch – Use: E-lance.com & Odesk.com.
  •  Don’t forget digital copies/Ebooks – You keep your rights, too.

Choosing to Self-Publish… Now What? (Darlene Shortridge) – I had my manuscript, albeit bled all over in red ink by the editor, but once my masterpiece had been corrected what then? The workshop with Mrs. Shortridge was filled with superb information:

  •  Editing: Get an editor – if not, you’re just journaling.
  •  Marketing: Best weekend to start with your book – Mother’s Day.
  •  Smashwords: Excellent source for marketing your book. Allow them to distribute.
  •  Layout (of your book series): Put the first chapter to your second book at the end of your first book.
  •  Formatting: Digital/Ebook formatting done for free by CreateSpace/Smashwords.
  •  About Author: Be sure to put information about you in your book.
  •  Business Basics: Copyright with Library of Congress $35.00.
  •  Godaddy.com: Reserve the websites to your would-be titles and your name.
  •  Public Speaking: Do not require a fee to talk to groups; simply ask for a book table at the back of the room.

Your Fantastical Science Fiction or Young Adult Setting (Tara Hudson) – Mrs. Hudson’s talent in writing and ability to relate information was unparalleled at this writer’s conference. Her information was all about creating a “Bible” of information on the setting of the fictional world to be utilized:

  •  Create Characters: Know how they look. Know something about them your readers will never know.
  •  Layout the physics of your universe, before-hand.
  •  Real-Settings: If you use real settings; go there!
  •  Every character in your book must have at least one sentence describing them.

Odds ‘N’ Ends: Other useful pieces of information I obtained with no real category:

  •  From the editors – If you get writer’s block, “Kill someone… Kill that character off in your book.”
  •  Draft2Digital.com – Awesome book publishing service. They make 10% profit (You make the rest). They will convert it to digital copy as well.

Now that you have a ton of useful information; get cracking on that manuscript. I hope the information I ran across at the writer’s conference will be useful. Keep in mind many of these writers and experts I met were very approachable and offered a plethora of advice once asked. Consider too, that those who attend a writer’s conference you may spend one-one time with an experienced author or publisher; by inviting them to lunch or dinner, you can glean whatever information you need. This is the perfect time to be around like-minded people whose goal is to create written works and establish networks of writers, agents, and publishers. I would encourage you to take at least one opportunity to attend a writer’s conference.

This Saturday, May 31st, from 9-12:00, ECWG member Evelyn Christensen will be at the Homegrown Authors booth at the Lexington Farmer’s Market on Main Street selling/signing (hopefully) her Kentucky Puzzles and other books. She’d love to see any of you who might there.

Erato Pio-Clementino Inv317

Erato, muse of erotic poetry


By virtue of last year’s mayoral decree, June is officially Lexington Poetry Month. Various events are planned at book stores, coffee shops, libraries, and other venues throughout the month, including open mic nights, public readings, workshops, and a month-long poetry writing challenge.

For more information, visit the Lexington Poetry Month page at Accents Publishing’s website: http://accents-publishing.com/blog/lexington-poetry-month-2014/. You’ll also find links to a calendar of events and a listing of poets who’ve officially signed up to participate in the challenge.

Last year, more than 75 local poets participated and over 1,000 poems were posted. A number of those were collected into a commemorative anthology, Her Limestone Bones, and another anthology is planned for this year.

You’ve got nothing to lose, so make a sacrifice to Calliope, Euterpe, Erato, Thalia, Polyhymnia — whoever your muse may be — and sign up!

Cosplay = costume + play

If you find yourself in Lexington and wondering what to do this Saturday, April 5, consider joining ECWG member Bob McKinley at the first annual Bluegrass Cosplay Con at the Clarion Hotel on Newtown Pike. For information on workshops, vendors, contests, special guests, and more, visit http://bluegrasscosplaycon.com/.

 

Calling all Y/A  fiction writers!

Writer’s Digest is sponsoring a free, agent-judged contest for book-length young adult fiction. What could you win? Exposure to an agent and a critique of your work! Visit http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/15th-free-dear-lucky-agent-contest-young-adult-fiction for details. But hurry: the deadline is April 9. (And thanks to ECWG member Robin Baskette for the tip!)

 

Perhaps it is because of T.S. Eliot’s famous observation (“The Wasteland”) that April has been designated National Poetry Month by the American Academy of Poets. The energy of the very planet is stirred up as the seasons turn from the extremes of one solstice toward that of the other. Whether you write poetry or not, April is full of inspiration in both the natural and online worlds.

Nothing could be more simple than the A to Z Blogging Challenge, even if you don’t blog. Every day except Sundays, you write something inspired by the corresponding letter of alphabet, beginning with A on April 1 (http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/).

Even if you’re not a poet, you can sign up to receive daily writing prompts from WordXWord’s 30/30 Poetry Challenge (http://3030poetry.com/). If you’d rather not have those pesky prompts popping up in your inbox every day, you can resolve instead to visit the Writer’s Digest’s Poem a Day Challenge (http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/2014-april-pad-challenge-guidelines/) for their daily prompts.

Then there’s NaPoWriMo — the poet’s version of NaNoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month and National Novel Writing Month, respectively). Find ideas for taking your writing to the next level at http://www.napowrimo.net/

And for you novelists who were too busy in November to pound out your 50,000 words, the good folks at NaNoWriMo offer a month-long writing experience at Camp NaNoWriMo (https://campnanowrimo.org/sign_in). They also run a second camp session during July, so mark your calendars.

No matter what your genre, crack your fingers, get your tools and supplies lined up, and prepare to get some serious writing done in April!

A couple of blog posts on self-publishing really caught my eye during the last week or so.

Traditional publishing as vanity press

In a recent post (Submit. But don’t say “Uncle.”) on his eponymous blog, Hugh Howey reflects on motivation and some of the demons that drive us as writers. He describes the current (and future) publishing landscape as one shaped by writers and readers together, turning received wisdom about traditional and independent publishing on its head.

Be sure to scroll down through the comments to find Massimo Marino’s vision of the future of POD, where every printed book is a sold book, and the end of the query process, in which literary agents operate like pro sports scouts. (The better and smarter agents are already doing this.)

Professionalism in self-publishing

In a guest post (The Professionals’ Effect) on Catherine Ryan Howard’s blog Catherine, Caffienated, Jean Grainger outlines her own journey to publication. She writes with humor and candor about delusions, pitfalls, and the delicate mix of confidence and humility needed for success. Best of all, she shares her surprising discoveries about the communal nature of self-publishing.

Don’t forget to search through the comments for Stephen Tiano’s observations about self-publishing as a business venture rather than a DIY project. (Images of basement mimeo machines and hand staplers spring to mind.)

The bottom line

Self-publishing is a viable and respectable business model, and authors who self-publish should consider themselves legitimate businesspersons: publishers. They owe it to their business to pay attention to the practices that traditional publishers continue to follow and those that have been abandoned. They owe it to themselves to pay attention to the experience of fellow independent publishers and the wider community of writers and readers. Most importantly, they owe it to their work to approach it with professional respect and integrity.

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