This past weekend I attended a Writer’s Conference that drew in agents from the West Coast and New York. It was an exciting time, filled with expectations and an overwhelming amount of information regarding the publishing industry.
I was able to connect with fellow writers, learn their personal histories and discover what motivates them to pound the keyboard day after day. As I progressed through the conference day – visiting, learning, expounding on my writing journey – a common thread among the attendees became evident.
Each of us seemed OBSESSED with the written word. I almost said POSSESSED, and that may well be a more apt description. What makes a writer so persistent in the craft is an intangible need to communicate something of particular importance to him or her. In my case, it’s a mash-up of pharmaceuticals with sinister plots of murder and mayhem.
For all of my adult life, I would often immerse myself into the virtual world of an intriguing mystery or thriller, much like children now escape into the magical world of computer games. So when I began to wind down my career in clinical pharmacy, it seemed only natural to maintain a connection between that world and my favorite pastime by creating novels of Murder, Mayhem and Medicine.
I continually saw that same PASSION among my fellow writers throughout the conference. Each had an unfinished story to tell or a virtual life to share through the ART of writing. Each seemed to have a specific JOURNEY that needed to be fulfilled. The motivations varied from expertise in a specific hobby to the purging of some long-held secret.
For instance, I met Mary who has a particular interest in historical fiction and writes about long-lost cultures along the Rio Grande River, even delving into the ancient use of psychedelic drugs for their recreation.
Then I met an interesting fellow by the name of Roland whose history was so inspirational and heart wrenching that I made it my mission to help him find the perfect agent to work with on his autobiography. When I last saw him, he and that agent were planning strategy to initiate the publishing process for his book. I urge you to take a moment to bounce over to Roland’s website. His journey from a baby being thrown away in a dumpster in a war-torn country to being valedictorian of his graduating class is truly inspiring.
What I found most interesting was the paradigm shift in the way the publishing industry currently views self-publishing and digital-only publishing. This has been evolving over the last several years, but I have never seen such a collaborative atmosphere by agents and publishers alike. The current consensus is that, if you can’t find an appropriate agent for more traditional publishing, by all means indie- or self-publish in whatever medium makes sense at the time. At some later point, or with another manuscript, the opportunity for a “Big Six” contract may happen. Certainly, there are proponents and opponents to that line of thinking, but respect and tolerance for all forms of publishing were evident and the success rate of alternate publishing strategies gets better by the day.
Now the burning question I know many of my writer friends are asking is “What’s the hot topic to write about these days?” The one-word answer is PARANORMAL! If you write thrillers like I do, include something mysterious that can’t be easily explained by science. If you write romance, you might consider including an affectionate zombie character. The list goes on, but you get the idea.
The bottom line is that the publishing industry may be losing some of its identifiable structure (and rules!) but the journey to develop our artistic work is only the beginning. The opportunities to get our craft out there are more numerous than ever before, making the journey from the keyboard to a published work more realistic than ever.
Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!