Having had relatively little experience with the publishing industry prior to this conference, I feel I walked away well-educated. There are some main points for new writers I gleaned that I'd like to share; some pertain to YA writers, some to romance writers, most to newbies, so if they don't pertain to you, skip to the end, why dontcha?
- BIGGEST SHOCKER: Don't expect to make any money. Ever. Period. Why? If you receive an advance on your manuscript, it's incredibly likely you WON'T earn it back again through your book sales. So that your book WILL sell (and if it doesn't, so long, future publishing deals!), you will be expected to market the heck out of yourself...and use your advance to do it, whether that means hiring a marketing firm to arrange for publicity, paying for your airfare and accommodations at book signings and other venues, or any other myriad marketing-related items. If you want to be published, it should be because you are dying to be published, NOT because you think it'll actually get you anywhere.
- You suck. Badly. You can always get better, but more than likely, you just plain stink. That said, like our Sunday morning keynote speaker told us, a little bit of talent and a lot of drive will get you a whole lot farther than a lot of talent but no dedication. Thank God for that.
- You have about a snowball's chance in hell of actually getting published. It's a really rough world for writing right now, and the economy is killer. And even if you DO get published, refer to #1.
- Self-publishing - particularly for those of us whose writing falls somewhere between YA and Adult, or those who are willing to work really hard at self-promotion (which, refer to #1, you will be expected to do anyway!) - is really not all that bad a way to go. Unless you're darned and determined to be published by a publishing house. In which case, self-publishing is like shooting yourself in the foot. With an uzzi.
And if there was anything, anything at all that I took away from the SDSU Writers' Conference that was of inherent value, it was this: The reminder that we writers write not to make a buck, not because we love to stare at a blank computer screen and torture ourselves, not because are thrilled at the prospect of suffering through another revision, but because we must. Albeit decidedly egotistical, we have something to say that we want the world to hear...an idea to share, a story to tell, characters to bring to life.
I have a story to tell...a story about a girl and her guardian angel, Soulmates separated centuries ago desperate to find one another. A heroine who sees Halflifes and is being hunted by Unholies, and a hero who wants nothing more to become a Fallen angel...to fall for the love of his eternities. I love that story. I love Jude, peculiar as she is, and I am in love with Sam, imperfect as he is.
So I will keep writing.
Thanks, SDSU...I needed that.