Three days of learning, four tracks to explore, and one novel to perfect— yours.
The Writer’s Digest Novel Writing Conference—an intensive, extended weekend focused solely on the novel—is returning to Southern California this fall! This event is your opportunity to build a better book from the ground up, from the first sentence to the marketing plan. Join Writer’s Digest in Pasadena this October 27–29.
Get What You Need:
Whether you need help with the broad strokes of your novel or guidance for fine tuning your nearly finished manuscript you’ll find sessions offering what you need across multiple tracks. Mix and match sessions among Craft, Character, Genre and Beyond!
Do What You Love:
Fuel up on the creative buzz of being around hundreds of other writers. Make new friends and meaningful connections; Mix, mingle and network at the Halloween-themed Cocktail Reception. Come dressed as your favorite character or literary figure!
Be Inspired by the Best:
So far the speaker roster includes New York Times bestsellers Lisa See and Neal Shusterman among dozens of others! Lock in your best price when you register by October 26. novel.writersdigestconference.com
SDWEG is a promotional sponsor for the conference. SDWEG members will receive a $25 discount by using code SDWEG17 when registering.
Attending the Writer’s Digest Novel Writing Conference is like stepping into the magazine’s pages! Attendees enjoy a long weekend focused solely on their novels and leave inspired, more confident in their abilities and with a greater understanding of the current publishing landscape, including self-publishing opportunities. This event is the chance to build a better book from the ground up and from the first sentence to the marketing plan!
When Is It?
October 27 to 29, 2017, in Pasadena, CA.
Learn from the Experts
Writer’s Digest Novel Writing Conference boasts a lineup of speakers that features New York Times bestselling authors—including Lisa See and Neal Shusterman. They’ll join a host of literary agents and industry experts at this uniquely positioned event—one of the few focused exclusively on the craft and business of novel writing.
Who Attends Writer’s Digest Novel Writing Conference?
Writer’s Digest’s attracts a dedicated group of writers at many different stages of their careers. Some are looking to publish for the first time, others to improve their marketing and promotional plans and sell more copies. Most have been writing for years and they want and expect relevant information to further their careers and are willing to invest in it.
The San Diego Writers and Editors Guild is a sponsoring promoter of the Writer’s Digest Novel Writing Conference. SDWEG members may obtain a $25 discount by entering code SDWEG17 when registering.
A complete lineup of the panels and speakers at the August 26 Festival of Books can be found here. Admission to the event is free, though there is a small charge, $3, to attend the panel discussions. Tickets can be purchased online ahead of time. Of that fee, $1 from each ticket will be donated to the San Diego Council on Literacy. Events in the Children’s Pavilion are free.
Presentations will be held in four locations: Main Hall, McMillin Event Center; Foyer, McMillin Event Center; NTC Command Center, Room 1; and Children’s Pavilion, Legacy Center.
SDWEG members T. Jefferson Parker, Richard Lederer, Corey Lynn Fayman, Steve Breen, and Barrett Clemmenson Powell are among the speakers to be featured at the event. A number of speakers at past Guild programs are also featured in some of the panels.
A map showing the layout of the venues is also available at the same link as the schedule. Scroll down to locate the map.
The event organizers are also looking for volunteers to help as author escorts; speaker or event coordinators; program and venue support; greeter and information booth; children’s pavilion assistants; and support staff for vendors, exhibitors, and sponsors. For more information about these opportunities, see this link.
One of the SDWEG presenters in 2016, Leslie Nack, shares her experiences turning her memoir, Fourteen: A Daughter’s Memoir of Adventure, Sailing, and Survival, into an audiobook. I listened to the audiobook, was impressed with the quality of the recording, and assumed she had used a professional studio to record it. When I asked, Leslie explained she had done it herself (well, much of it) and offered to share what she learned along the way. Thanks, Leslie, for sharing with the Guild.
Being married to a mechanical engineer who loves computer stuff, including animation and video and sound, I thought producing an audiobook would be an easy deal – you know, no biggie. And it would have been if my husband didn’t have a job!
As with everything, Amazon has the market sewn up in the audiobook department. And they have made everything pretty simple. I picked the exclusive with ACX contract (40% royalty payment). The audiobook gets distributed to Audible, iTunes, and Amazon, which has 75% of the audiobook market. Plus the return on sales is higher than having a non-exclusive agreement (25% royalty payment) with ACX. Check out the website for all the details.
My husband did all the research (which he’s stellar at) and found all the things we needed to make a professional recording studio in our house. If you want to take this route, YouTube has videos on how to set up a sound studio in your house in a pantry or small room.
I devoured the ACX website because I knew I was going to read my own book. I have a memoir and it makes more sense to read it yourself. Novels are different. ACX has a list of narrators (which you can listen to ahead of time) and producers if you don’t want to read your own book. I have no idea how much this costs.
I thought my husband would easily be able to record me, and then edit the recordings to take out my breaths and all mouth noises and make it perfect. Turns out those two steps take a long time. My husband’s work got crazy and we had to put the audiobook aside for a time (which turned out to be 6 months).
After months of waiting, and putting it off, I tried to find somebody else to audio engineer my chapters. I wanted my audiobook to come out for my one year anniversary of publishing Fourteen and that deadline was looming.
That’s when I found Sergio. He’s an audio engineer who works in the music industry. He’s done two other audiobooks on the side, and I checked his references. He did a stellar job for me.
He also has a studio where you can record the book if you live in the LA, OC or SD areas. Not sure what he charges for that. To audio engineer my book, he charged $1,400 for 28 chapters and I feel like it was a good deal. It was a lot of work.
Sergio is interested in more work in the audiobook field. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell him I sent you.
So anyway, now that it’s almost been a year, we are finished with my audiobook. I can’t tell you how relived I am and how proud I am to have finished it. If you endeavor to have an audiobook, it won’t take you that long, I’m sure, especially because you can learn from my mistakes.
So if you are somebody, or know somebody, who can deal with the technical side of setting up a studio and recording the book yourself, here are the details.
If you need anything else, or have any questions, let me know. I’m happy to help in any way I can.
Software: Audacity. This is the freeware with a very strong wiki documentation presence. It is a very robust program that has far more recording and editing functionality than we needed. (Remember that for every hour you spend recording, you will spend 2-3 hours editing afterward). It is a Windows program. I do not believe there is an Apple version for it. [Webmaster note: Their website offers versions for Windows as well as partial support for Mac OX (Sierra version) and GNU/Linux.]
Tripod boom mic stand $20 at Amazon or Guitar Center. You want the microphone physically separated from the table the narrator is using to prevent sound transfer. That’s the reason for a boom stand rather than a tabletop stand.
I used an iPad to read from. It is electronically silent and scrolls silently as long as your fingernails don’t tap on the glass. A computer monitor creates some electronic noise, I think. We tried to keep all wires out of the studio enclosure except for the mic cable.
At Monday’s Open Mic Night, SDWEG member Penn Wallace announced that his upcoming class on Thursday, July 27, at San Diego Writers, Ink would cover using your email list. He asked that I post this correction as he misspoke.
This week’s class, July 27, is on Building Your Author Brand. While not the topic he announced, he is sure that many members would still be interested in this topic.
The class on mailing lists is titled Join the Writers Community and Connect with Readers and will be held on August 3. The first part of the class in on how to join the writers’ community and cross market with other authors. The second part of the class is on how to build your mailing list and use it as your most important marketing tool.
When SDWEG member and our April presenter, Penn Wallace, mentioned at one of our Marketing Support Group meetings that his blog followers weren’t interested in reading about his writing process, I asked if he’d be willing to share a description of his writing process with us. This is the first of two posts in this guest blogger series, complete with evidence of Penn’s sense of humor.
My Writing Process
There are as many ways to write a book as there are authors. I have talked to bestselling, traditionally published authors who don’t know the plot or story when they start writing. We call these writers “pantsers” because they write by the seat-of-their-pants.
There are other writers who plot and outline the entire story before they write the first word. We call these people “outliners.”
There are dozens of degrees of each of these categories in between. Whatever works for you is the correct way to write.
Me, I’m an extreme outliner. I come from a software engineering background. During my years designing and building software and web applications for Fortune 500 companies, I learned that I wanted to know all the answers before I started coding. I didn’t like to be hit with surprises mid-project. Our axiom was “It’s cheaper to fix it in the design stage than it is in the build stage.”
The same applies to writing. I’ve known pantsers who found a glaring plot error in their story and ended up ripping out hundreds of pages and starting again. I rarely have such problems.
I bring that software engineering disciple to writing. I want to know the story, the characters, the plot and all of its twists before I start writing. That way, I prevent myself from putting inconsistencies in the story and end up with a cohesive whole.
This is not to say I’m rigid in my writing. Often times a character takes over the story in ways I never imagined and I have to make changes to my outline. When my beta readers read the manuscript and don’t understand something, it usually means I need to add another scene to explain what’s happening. Perhaps, during research on a specific item, I make new discoveries that take me off in a new direction. I go back and modify my outline to accommodate them.
The sample outline I have posted on my website is for my newest novel, The Cartel Strikes Back. If you compare the outline to the book, you will find many differences. I can’t give away the ending, but it occurred to me halfway through the writing process, necessitating making changes further upstream in the book. You may view The Cartel Strikes Back outline here.
After I complete the outline, I sit down to start writing and something magical happens. My mind goes blank. I don’t have to think about what I’m writing or how I’m writing it. The letters and words just flow from my fingers, from my sub-conscious.
At this point, I know the story so well; I don’t have to think about what I’m writing. The words just appear on my computer screen. And know what? I have the same excitement and enthusiasm as a new reader reading the book for the first time.
It’s an exhilarating feeling. I only hope you can achieve this in your writing.
Now we get to the blow-by-blow of my process. Remember: this is how I write. Your method may be something different.
My process begins with a story idea. For The Inside Passage it was the arrest of a terror cell in Canada that were all Canadian-born citizens with college degrees. They planned to blow up Parliament and behead the Prime Minister on live TV. I pondered on why such people would turn against their own country, and a plot was born.
In the new Catrina Flaherty novel, The China Town Murders, the story started with a news article about a Seattle attorney who had been arrested as a serial rapist. He preyed on illegal immigrants because they couldn’t go to the police. A perfect case for Cat.
After I have an idea, I begin the research. This could take several weeks. I need to know why the Canadians turned against their country, why the attorney became a rapist. I was worried I would have the FBI knocking on my door when I was researching The Inside Passage, I spent so much time on jihadist websites.
I copy and paste articles that I find helpful into a Word file so that I can refer to them later.
The beat sheet is a screenwriter’s tool I use to work through the plot of a novel before I start writing the outline. It helps me visualize the story before I get bogged down in details.
The beat sheet concept is adapted from Blake Snyder’s book Save The Cat! If you haven’t read Save The Cat!, get a copy today.*
You can download a sample beat sheet from my novel Bikini Baristashere.
By the time I’ve completed the beat sheet, I have a pretty good handle on how the story will unfold. I also know most of the characters that will appear in the book.
See Part Two for Penn’s process for character development and beyond.
*Editor’s note: I scoured the Chicago Manual of Style to determine if the comma in this sentence is necessary. Couldn’t find it. But I did find a reference on The Punctuation Guide that if a comma is needed after a title that ends with an exclamation point, the comma should be used. Here are examples from The Punctuation Guide:
As part of a title of work
If the exclamation point is part of a title of work or a proper noun, the comma should be retained.
His latest short story, “Don’t Make a Sound!,” is his most suspenseful yet.
After five years in the sales department at Yahoo!, he took a marketing job at Google.
On June 26, Jonathan Maberry spoke to the Guild about crossing genres. In his opinion, a writer should be able to write about anything. He said that although there may not always be a big market for your genre, there is always a market for every subject.
Well-known authors Richard Matheson and Stephen King are just two examples of successful writers who have written everything from sci-fi, horror, fantasy, adult fiction, suspense, thrillers, and more.
You can have more than one genre in a book. Go with the mix you love to write about.
Different genres bring in different income streams. If you have two books in the same genre at the same time they compete with each other.
Jonathan writes eight hours a day. He makes a bullet outline and writes the ending, although he may change it. He does take breaks to write something entirely different. While writing a book he will do research for a new book.
Jonathan suggests bringing characters from your other books into new ones. He’s all for taking creative risks (experimentation) but respecting your audience.
If you write about what makes you excited to write, your passion will show through. Write a story that you would go out of your way to read.
If you write with the same passion you have for reading, you will write a good book.
An SDWEG member is interested in sharing a table at the inaugural San Diego Festival of Books on August 26. For information on what is involved, see this form. If you are interested in sharing a table, send a message to email@example.com.
The Clarion Reading Series began on June 25, but there are still opportunities to participate through the Clarion instructor readings–five evenings with some of the best science fiction and fantasy writers working–presented by Mysterious Galaxy bookstore and Comickaze comics: