Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Symposium Show and Tell

Last Saturday, fellow Lake Writer Sally Roseveare and I drove to Charlottesville for the Virginia Writers Club Symposium at Piedmont Community College, a lovely place. On the drive up and back, we caught up with what each other had been doing and talked about writing ideas.

My purpose in attending was to learn more about e-publishing. I'm thinking about e-publishing my 2001 self-published novel, Patches on the Same Quilt,  so I wanted to learn about formatting and other e-stuff I need to know. Since two of the three sessions were about e-publishing, I figured I might fill in some gaps in my knowledge. I'll you about it—in a quick summary—and show you a few pictures.

While the first session I attended wasn't about e-publishing, it was a doggone good session. Clifford Garstang spoke about Show AND Tell.

While many think that writers should show rather than tell, Garstang explained how both techniques can work. Referring to the elementary school tradition of "show and tell" sessions,  he passed around a rock and told stories about it. His handout of examples of showing and telling was an effective way to show us what worked and why. He blogged about his session here.

The next session I attended was about about why members of a panel chose the e-book route. While much of the presentation was entertaining, it wasn't what I was looking for. I wanted to know how rather than why. Fortunately, about mid-way through, Brooke McGlothlin (who's sold 8,000 copies of her e-book!) gave some good advice about how she built a platform, which is essential to e-book success. What the session really needed was some internet visuals so the presenters could show us their websites, blogs, sites they referred to, etc. McGlothin and Bill Blume held up their laptops to show us their websites and McGlothin wrote her URL on the board, but an actual Internet presence would have helped immensely. The college has wi-fi, so I can't imagine why it wasn't utilized.

The last session I attended was about how to promote e-books. Monti Sikes's presentation contained much helpful advice, and I was glad she handed out a list of URLs for sites she had mentioned.

 Again, an internet connection to show us the sites she referred to would have been a huge help. Some of the advice she gave during her session is summarized in her Notes Along the Way blog post, "Marketing your e-books and More." A lot of folks were busily jotting notes as she spoke.

The final sessions was Charles J. Shields' keynote address. Shields is best known as the author of Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee and And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life.

A most entertaining speaker, Shields revealed how he researched and wrote both books. Plus, he threw in a bit of humor with the "Ten Commandments for Writers."  

I'm guessing maybe a hundred people attended the symposium, which was primarily geared to aspiring writers. I didn't see many commercially published folks in attendance, but there were a lot of self-pubbed folks there—and they all seemed to have a good time.

I really enjoyed the symposium, but I was a bit disappointed that I hadn't learned what I came to learn. And then I ran into Roanoker Cherie Reich, a prolific blogger who's self-pubbed a bunch of e-books. I asked her a bunch of questions; she answered every one and told me things I needed to know. 

While the symposium didn't offer as many sessions as the two-day Appalachian Heritage Writers Symposium I recently attended, it was still a worthwhile event and I'm glad I went. 

And I even learned a few things.



Blogger CountryDew said...

Sounds very worthwhile.

8:46 AM  
Blogger Monti said...

Hi Becky,

Enjoyed reading your summary of the events you attended. You're right about an internet connection would have been helpful. I fully intended to have a Power Point presentation but spent way too much time researching the subject of e-marketing then ran out of time. In the end, I decided you can research an entire lifetime and still not know enough about book marketing!!! It was good to see you. The conference committee did an outstanding job.

Mary Montague Sikes

6:53 PM  

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