The Writer’s Coffeehouse – SoCal
San Diego’s Newest Writer’s Resource.
I recently had the pleasure to attend a gathering of up-and-coming writers and artists organized by Jonathan Maberry. Dubbed the Writer’s Coffeehouse, this group of dedicated storytellers came together to talk candidly about the joys and frustrations of the craft.
As I was not initially planning on writing a summary, I apologize if some of the topics covered at the meeting are missing from the following description.
After initial introductions and establishing that the coffeehouse meetings will occur on the first Sunday of every month (with the exception of next month due to Easter), Jonathan mediated the group.
- Know your audience:
- Middle grade (8-12 years old) are broken into the younger crowd (Goosebumps at 8-10) and the 10-12 set.
- Young Adult (12-17 years old) again broken up into (12-15) adventure and first romance, and the (15-17) romance, real world issues, and risk-taking.
- New Adult (17 and beyond) Sex, drug use, and more mature real world issues.
- Big advances can hurt first-time authors because they may not sell enough books to earn out the advance. A smaller advance will make the novel look successful to the bean counters and may make a second book deal more likely.
- There is something called a stepped advance where an author’s advance is staggered based on the number of copies sold – something to consider when negotiating a contract.
- Social Media, love it or hate it, is unavoidable. Reddit, Google hangouts, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. It’s a necessity in the publishing recipe.
- Publisher Marketplace is an essential tool for researching agents and their recent deals.
- Publishing is a business. A good business partnership is built on mutual respect and trust. Work on developing a relationship with people from the writing community and with agents/editors.
- Try to build up fellow artists. Give positive feedback and constructive advice. There is more than enough room at the top for everyone. Writers should help fellow writers.
- Cover quotes are great ways to relate to potential readers who may need to have your work vetted by an author they know and like.
- Send out X-Mas cards: Understand and respect all the people who make a published story happen. Remember who they are and how important they are in making your story a success.
- Comic books are another format, and audience, that boost your platform, but the dynamics of publishing are different.
- Pen names – There was a variety of opinions, but the consensus was it is hard enough to get your message out there. Don’t make it harder on yourself. Use your real name. You’re creating a brand with your name: stand behind it.
- When you do send your work out, it should be in Word format.
- Jonathan’s technique for short stories is to write the ending first and work backward.
- Interview, blog, and promote other writers.
- Writer’s block is a fallacy.
- It can mean you’ve taken the wrong path with a story. Back up and start down a different path.
- Try a different angle or perspective/point of view.
- Write a more interesting part of the story and then come back to the place you got bogged down.
- Don’t obsess about writing it well the first time – just write it. Real writing occurs with the edits and revisions.
I’m sure I missed a number of key points, but I was honestly engrossed in the discussion and the pure energy of the meeting and forgot to take detailed notes. Everyone had suggestions, advice, and personal stories to share. I had a wonderful time and hope to attend many more sessions.
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