Last week I was able to attend my first writer’s conference. I have been looking forward to this for months. It didn’t disappoint. I was able to attend the UVU Book Academy. This is the second year that they have been doing this. It was really well put together. Nothing seems to be perfect, but my experience was almost in this category.
There was a key-note speaker – Brandon Mull – of the series Fablehaven, which I am currently finishing the fifth and final book. [Not planned, just how it worked out.] There were a total of 4 workshops and a ton of published authors, publishers, and industry folk there to help. I met a bunch of fellow authors and even reconnected with a few friends who have also made their way to writing.
Since I am a new author, just having finished my first draft of my manuscript, I felt unsure of what to expect. I was surprise and excited that they had broken down the workshops into experience. 1.) Those having a desire to write 2.) Those currently writing, 3.) Those preparing to publish or find a literary agent, and 4.) Those who are published and want something more.
I fell into 2 and 3 and went to workshops designed around those ideas. My first workshop actually lasted 2 hours. It was designed around those preparing to send a query letter. We worked with a publishing company and received a tutorial about the ins-and-outs of query letters. We even had a short exercise to write a query letter and be evaluated. I failed miserably, but I have a good beginning now.
My third workshop was about the editing process, especially the self editing. This was also very helpful because I #amediting currently and that is what I will spend the majority of the next few months doing.
My last workshop was about the dos and don’ts of submitting. This was helpful and more of a reminder though there were several things that I learned.
1.) Covenant Publishing was there and very helpful
2.) Deseret Book was also a large portion of this conference
3.) There were so many LDS published authors that attended
4.) Gifts and prizes [I didn’t win anything….of course]
5.) Good food, especially lunch
Covenant publishing and Deseret Book are for those authors who want to try the route without an agent. They accept a lot of LDS or Latter-Day Saint [also referred to as Mormon] literature. This has a built-in audience and I knew relatively little about this avenue. It sounds fascinating and although I am LDS, I am confident that my book would not meet the standards for LDS printing. But everyone was so helpful.
My “oh-crap” experience
Throughout the conference I was concerned about several things or aspect of my book. The roof seemed to fall on me when I learned that my word count could be a red flag for most agents and publishers. I am currently sitting at 211,000. Epic Fantasy is probably where I am going but for a first time writer, I was told that I was pushing the envelope.
I was then given two options, cut the book like crazy or cut the book in half. I thought about this for hours and had a very tough time, thinking of a spot that could allow for a split into two books. In the end, I have decided to edit, cut and slash anything that needs or could be cut. I think that in the end I will be around 150,000 or at least that is my goal. Entire chapters and more will have to be scraped. I have also thought that some of the info could be moved to book 2 — if I ever get that far.
Overall, great conference and a ton of great advice by more advanced and far more experienced writers. I guess I will have to start planning for next year to attend this conference.