In the last four weeks I’ve done three workshops, two of them at writer’s conferences. As always, I found it all stimulating. And I sold some of my books—understandably, a number of copies of Flogging the Quill, Crafting a Novel that Sells (usually after the class had happened) and a number of copies of The Vampire Kitty-cat Chronicles; that one brings up a question that I’ll address later on selling actual, physical books versus selling on the Internet.
Workshops by other pros never fail to stimulate
Even though I’ve been at this writing and editing business for some time now, I never fail to come away from the workshops and presentations I get to attend with new insights and notes on things I can do in my WIP.
How about you? If you’re a seasoned pro, do you go to writing workshops? If you do, are they helpful for you?
Teaching workshops is also stimulating. I enjoy them and have fun, and every one sharpens my own understanding of what works and what doesn’t work in fiction, and I apply that to the next workshop and to my editing work. Well, to my writing, too. I’ll admit that it’s also great fun to have one’s views and coaching validated by workshoppers in their comments after the class and in their evaluations.
Presenting a novel is hard
At Wordstock in Portland, I did my first-ever presentation of one of my novels, The Vampire Kitty-cat Chronicles. I had 50 minutes – and an audience of 6 people. I don’t think I did well. I read pieces, and that part was okay—the material is good and I’m a good reader. But what do you say about your own work in between reading? I’ll admit that I haven’t been to many presentations like this, so didn’t have much in the way of role models. And, frankly, most of the time I find readings to fall flat unless the material is excellent.
Do you have any tips for us folks who are new to doing readings? I have one coming up at a bookstore for the same novel, and I’d like to do better.
A book-selling dilemma
At the Wordstock Festival a large hall was filled with booths of publishers and booksellers. I was able to offer my novel and writing book at Broadway Books. Unfortunately, I have been selling The Vampire Kitty-cat Chronicles (several sold at the previous two workshops) and I was only able to bring six copies.
The thing is that there were many hundreds of competing books on display, and yet my little novel had sold four copies before the presentation, and immediately sold out after it (despite my performance), and after my panel discussion another person wanted it but was frustrated. Lesson learned about having plenty of books on hand.
In the flesh, the book attracts people and sells itself. But not so much on the Internet at Amazon and the other vendors.
But why not? The cover art is the same. You can “read inside” on Amazon just as a person can with the actual book in their hands.
It’s a puzzlement. There’s something about the title and book cover that invites picking up, but not clicking on.
What about you? How are you on buying in-the-flesh books versus buying online? What makes the difference if there is one? Do you see differences with your books?
I love going to writer’s conferences and doing workshops—there’s nothing much more fun that talking about writing all day. And I find that writers are just about universally helpful, considerate, and enthusiastic about their work. It’s good to be a part of that community of gregarious loners.
Photo credit: orange zoo.