Monday, June 20, 2011

Conference Assimilation: The Electives

When continuing classes were not in session, electives were being held. These were a series of unconnected, one hour classes, about virtually anything related to writing or the publishing industry. Having attended five conferences before this, I’ve sat in on quite a few electives. This year I did so on three.

The first, Wednesday afternoon, was “Building A Winning Marketing Plan” taught by Carla Williams. Carla is with a self-publishing company, Winepress, that does a quality job with the books it publishes. However, Carla threw me for a loop with her statements about how much we should expect to have to spend to market our book. She said if you have 40 hours a week to put into marketing your book, you should only have to spend $5,000 or so on marketing. It spiraled up from there: the less time you had to spend, the more money you should expect to spend on marketing.

I thought, I should just quit right now. Unless God drops thousands of dollars in my lap, I’m never going to have that type of money to spend. I think I didn’t concentrate as well after that. I was probably in the wrong class. What I needed was “Ten no-cost or low-cost things you can do to market your book,” or something like that.

The next elective I attended, Thursday afternoon, was “Writing Great Discussion Guides.” As I’ve been doing a lot of this over the last two years, I thought this would be a good class to attend. It was taught by Sam O’Neal, an editor with, an arm of Christianity Today. Sam gave some excellent tips on how to frame questions, and what type of questions to avoid. He did not, however, include anything on what makes a good small group study. What types of lessons? How long should they be? What about separate class book and leader book? I suppose these will be in a class titled, “Building a small group study from scratch,” or some such title.

Later on Thursday I attended “Meeting the Media,” taught by Mary Byers. She is a magazine editor, and has been in the writing business for a while. This was a worthwhile class, but I felt it was a little off topic per the title. It was more about how to get the media’s attention—that is, how to choose what to write about so that the media will take notice of you. I’m not complaining, for Mary gave us some good information. But I was a bit disappointed.

I did not attend any elective classes on Friday. I had two appointments with agents in the afternoon, my two main appointments, and then I was able to schedule a third, with an editor. I was also wanting to speak with another agent about one of my projects—not that he would represent me for it, but I was advised that he would be able to advise me about submitting it. I could have squeezed in attendance at one or two electives, though I would have had to pop in and out due to my appointments, but I chose to just hang out in Barrows Auditorium and do some journal writing between appointments, as well as discuss things with fellow writers.

So, herein I present my stewardship of my time, as far as electives are concerned. Hopefully I used the hours well, and took something away from them.

1 comment:

Gary said...

Carla's sticker-shock estimate needs a breakout... and an analysis of ROI.