Writing Seminars and Why I Hate Them

We have all been invited to attend a writing seminar in some form or another. The glitzy brochure in the mailbox offers “secret” advice from Author experts, or “exclusive” consultation with an “award-winning author”, etc. Meanwhile, a quick Google search will reveal that these so-called experts have barely sold 1,000 copies of their self-help book, with no real experience to offer the attendees of their overly expensive conference in a cheap hotel.

So why do people shell out hundreds of dollars for this obvious con? Simply because they aren’t willing to do the hard work themselves. It’s much easier to have an “expert” stand on a stage and give you a step-by-step process to becoming a successful author, even if they’re sharing the most obvious of advice. But because you paid $125 for this ticket, you believe that it is exclusive.

False.

I’m not saying that every single writing seminar is a fraud, but what I am saying is that all the information you need is readily available for FREE. I hate Writing Seminar’s because they are a way for little known author’s to con desperate writers into giving them money in exchange for “wisdom”. I’ve been to several such seminars, and they all repeat the same basic information. But if a $150 seminar is what it takes to get you on your feet, then more power to you. In the meantime, here’s a few articles I’ve found extremely helpful on my journey to the Editor’s desk:

Ten ways to become a Successful Writer:

http://www.streetdirectory.com/travel_guide/16077/writing/ten_ways_to_become_a_successful_writer.html

Be a Happy and Successful Author:

http://www.squidoo.com/happyandsuccessfulauthor

15 Practical Author Tips:

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/a-guide-to-becoming-a-better-writer-15-practical-tips.html

Become an Author: http://www.ehow.com/how_2308324_become-author.html

Finding a Literary Agent: http://www.dailywritingtips.com/how-to-find-a-literary-agent/

There are many, many such articles with wonderful tips on becoming a best-selling author, writer, journalist, etc. The point is, avoid writing seminars at all costs. Save your money, put your research skills to work, and educate yourself on the world of literature.

Spamming until you see Results

So, you’ve finished writing your book, script, graphic novel, etc. Now what? This is where the going gets tough, and if you’re tough, you’ll get going. By this I mean sending your book into the cacophony of literary agencies, publishing houses, editors, etc. At this point in the game, you’ve just spent months or years completing your novel, and you’re ready to move onto the next project, right? Not just yet. You still have to find someone to publish your creation. There are several methods to achieve this sought after goal, and I’ll take you through a few of them.

Step One: Research. Find out what companies books that are similar to yours are being published through. Contact other authors and seek their advice. Many popular writers have a blog, and like to share the journey they took to become an author, so I would suggest starting there. Authors aren’t selfish people, and most would gladly help you the same way they were. Visit the Literary Marketplace (www.literarymarketplace.com) which has a comprehensive list of agencies and publishing companies to send your manuscript to.

Step Two: If you have the funds available, consider hiring a Publicist. They specialize in promotion, and perhaps they can generate more interest in your book than you can. You might be the next J.R.R. Tolkien, but you probably don’t know the first thing about the advertising industry. There are things that agencies look for that might not even realize. Your book might be the best thing since sliced bread, but if you can’t explain it the right way, it will forever remain a document file on your computer.

Step Three: Spam. You spam them until they shut down their website, or change their email address. Ok, so maybe not quite as dramatically as that, but you will want to continue sending your manuscript into the world until you receive a positive response. If an agency turns it down, hopefully they’ll also have given you a few reasons as to why they refused your manuscript. Take this in good spirit, and revisit, revise, and resend your manuscript to them. Don’t place all your bets on one agency or publishing company, however. Send it to them all.

Step Four: While it might not be the dream you’ve always had, smaller publishing houses still offer a good stepping stone for your career as an author. This can be a great first stop on your way to the Bestseller list, as long as you play your cards right. Continue spamming(sending) your manuscript to the agencies, but if you receive a contract from a smaller company, you might want to think about it. Now, this is only after you’ve just about exhausted yourself spamming(sending) your book to as many agencies as you can, with zero positive reception. Small presses will give you everything the larger companies will, just in a smaller dosage. They’ll advertise, promote, and sell your book as best they can, because the future of their business is riding on your success.

In the end, don’t give up. I’ve known authors whose books have taken 5-6 years to publish, and authors who were published in under a year. It’s different for everybody, but if you have a good book, and it’s written, edited, and formatted correctly, chances are high that you will receive a contract for it. Keep spamming(sending) your creation to as many places as you can. Dedication is usually rewarded with success, so don’t quit, no matter what. And remember, spam on, my friends.

Sticky Note

Advice for aspiring Authors

This is a blog post I wrote as a guest for a website dedicate to sharing authors experiences as they foray into the literary world.

“As a new author just barely out of my teen years, my experience from beginning to end of writing my first novel has been anything but traditional for many in the literary field. My first book, titled ‘Inceptum’, first began as an assignment in college, but quickly developed into a passion I wasn’t aware I even had. I’ve learned much along the way, the biggest lesson being that one should never self publish, except as a last effort to see your book in print. If you feel your story is worthy of being read by the public, then seek out a literary agent, or a small publishing company to get you on your feet.

There are thousands of agents across the country, and chances are high that at least one or two will show an interest in your book, provided it has been written and edited professionally. One way to see this through for free is to contact a professor at a nearby University, and ask if they’d be willing to review your book for grammatical errors. Many in the education field would be glad to off their services for free, or even for a small fee.

Another mistake first-time authors make is with scheduling their writing sessions. If you feel that you’re an “inspired writer”, that’s great, but you still need to balance time spent in front of the computer, or you will burn out from overexposure. After I completed my book, I was so sick of reading it that I didn’t even touch it for several months. Make time for yourself during periods when you won’t get distracted by anything, and sit down for at least an hour or more to create your story.

If you’re having trouble finding the inspiration to write, consider sitting back and ask yourself why you’re writing this particular book. What about it inspired you in the first place? Is the story going anywhere, or is it dead in the water? Don’t be afraid to delete a chapter here and there if they aren’t contributing to the overall flow of the book. For me, my story was science fiction in nature, so to find inspiration I would watch my favorite science fiction movies. It really helps to experience things related to your story and look to them for assistance.

The best advice I have ever been given, is to write a story that you will want to read over and over again. It shouldn’t matter if you never sell a single copy of your book. If you are happy with the finished product, then any sales are an added bonus.

In conclusion, I plan on writing many more novels in the future, as well as working on a sequel to my first book, ‘Inceptum’. You can pick it up at www.zackwall.com, or download the Kindle version on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter: @authorzack, and check out the official Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/inceptumbook”