Springmingle 09 - Friday night

Y'all know that little old expression the post office uses? Neither rain, snow, sleet, nor dark of night? Well, that sure applied to Springmingle this last weekend. My first thought Friday morning while taking 13 yo to school was how could Mother Nature do this to me? How dare she? Didn't she know my hair went flat when it rained? But she did it. Rain pouring down in a steady stream all day.

Okay, I can handle that. I do have two umbrellas but where they? Not anywhere I looked. So it was a hooded jacket and praying I didn't look like something my cat attacked when I arrived at the hotel.

After making it through nightmare heavy traffic in downtown Atlanta, I checked in and started to look for the other attendees. If you've never been to a writer's conference, especially at a hotel with a bunch of other conferences going on, let me tell you. We know each other from the start. We're the ones greeting each other loudly. We're the ones walking up to others with our hands held out, saying I'm so and so, who are you? We're the ones talking and laughing about what we do, our latest project, and what our future dreams are. Mostly, we're the ones dressed casually while everyone is in business clothes even on the weekend. What a wonderful job we have. I've heard some folks even write in their pj's. More power to them. No one else is around to make a face or comment if our hair stands on end. Those ripped jeans and an old t-shirt you painted the kitchen in last summer is the latest fashion as far as we're concerned. We can even kick off our shoes or sit on the floor without feeling self-consciousness. Yup, I really did find the best job in the world.

Conference time approached as we swirled and eddied through the introductions. At one point, as I'm talking to someone, a woman pushed past. I bided me time to find out what she wrote, when she told the person at the registration table she was Caitlyn Dlouhy (Atheneum Books NY). One of the editors had arrived. Thank goodness my face didn't turn red because of a major faux pas. She looked like every other writer in the place, and her talks were down to earth and fact filled. She possessed the same passion about what she publishes as the writers do about their work. Mary Kate Castallani (Walker Books for Young Readers NY) and Abigail Samoun (Tricycle Press CA) also were as exciting to listen to. Kathleen Duey possessed an almost manic intensity as she talked about publishing more than 70 books in her career and she's still going strong. Her witty comments gave us more information about how to push our product and find a place in this recession-driven world.

This year's theme 'From Muse to Market' started with a session on marketing ourselves and our work by Shelli Johannes-Wells. She dove right into the necessary elements to let editors know about us after we submit our work for publication.

The first and most important thing is to get your name out there. The web is a necessary tool for this. A website or blog or both is a necessary tool. You have to have those. Blogs should be informative and interesting. Ones talking about your characters are great. Don't put bits of your book in them but use them to define who or what your characters are. It'll help sell the elements of your product. As for your website, she says to do it in five basic pages. The home page, books, bio, blog, and resources. You'll also need an author press kit including a photo and bio. (Okay, I guess I'll have to break a camera lens and have someone take my picture. Scary thought!) You'll want to keep things short and simple. You'll also want to show off your voice in this endeavor.

This is part of your personal brand. It's how you break down defining yourself. Then there's your shadow brand. That's how you come off to others. Are you serious/shy/what? I guess my crit groups will soon answer those questions.

The next step is author branding. This is where you focus on your audience - the editors/agents. Who are you as an author/writer. What are the long-standing connections? As an example, in just a few words, use things like women's fiction with a kick, or frisky, fun, and a bit on the wild side, or humorous off-beat stories set in small town America. Figure out three adjetives that describe you and these will be your personal brand.

Finally, there is book branding. What is your book about? Who is the target audience (not just young adults but what kind of young adults?)? What materials are needed to publish it?

Most importantly, always go for quality never quantity. It's part of defining your workmanship.

About those pesky business cards we hand out to everyone. Yes, they are part of defining our author brand. And don't do the plain black and white thing with them. Use colors. Figure out your color. Use it on your website and on your cards. Use pictures. Clip art. Other stuff like that. It's all part of defining your work. I guess I'm green with a forest around me. Yes, that defines one of the core things about me. Born and raised in the Los Angeles basin, I always yearned for the peaceful green forest. Living in Northwest Georgia, I have found it. Heck, some of it lines my driveway and fills my yard. Most of my Southern Pine trees are more than a hundred years old. Deer, turkey, rabbits, groundhogs, and squirrels call my yard a haven. Nature at its best helps me concentrate on getting past difficult moments. My computer is set up near a window. Instead of trollling the web, I spend my blocked moments staring at the beauty I never take for granted.
Shelli went into so much more but you can read about it and other marketing tips on her blog: http://www.faeriality.blogspot.com/ Yes, she gave permission to link to her. She puts up a special spot every Monday where she interviews an editor or agent or writer about marketing. Definitely a not miss.
The rest of the night was meeting more writers, going through the bookstore to find some great books (I picked up several I couldn't resist), and drinking in the energy.
Tune in here tomorrow for Springmingle 09 - Saturday. It was as fact filled and as much fun as the opener Friday night.


Donna Alice said…
Gee---I really, really, really wish I could have gone.

Setting up a webpage sounds hard but I guess I'll have to bite the bullet soon.