From Start to Finish – This was a three session panel which went over ideas and preparation, then drafting and revision, then ended with publishing and promotion. The panelists were a mix of self-published authors and small press so we got a good cross-section of the process no matter how you want to end up getting into print.
Economics of Super-villainy – This was a lot of fun since the panel talked about the costs, limits, and restrictions you need on super villains within a story. There was discussion about how you can break your universe if you introduce the wrong sort of technology without considering the ramifications.
|Rules for Writing Magic (Howard Tayler moderating, was off to the left)|
Rules for Writing Magic - This was an interesting discussion of magic in books. An author should be able to describe step by step exactly how their magic system works, but should never actually present it that way to the reader. You need to know how it works without boring people with the details.
Publishing in Today’s Market – Publishing today is much different than it used to be. L. E. Modesitt Jr. was there to give the perspective of the traditional publisher, a model he’s been part of for lots of years. We also had self-published and small press folks there describing who owns what part of the process, and how to succeed and what to expect on the path you choose.
Pitching Your Novel – This was a good overview from several small press publishers (some of whom are also authors) on how to prepare to pitch your novel (to a publisher, not into the trash). Conventions are a good option, since many times there are slots you can sign up for to present your pitch, or even to have a publisher give you an individual or group critique. In a personal conversation, the consensus was that you wait for the editor to ask you what your story is about. If they don’t ask, then you can use your conversation with them as a springboard when you send in your pitch via email later. There was also discussion of the difference between a short pitch with one quick emotional hook, and a longer pitch which details your hero, goals, obstacles, and the consequences if they fail.
|Using Magic Talismans panel|
Using Magic Talismans: More than a MacGuffin? – First, a MacGuffin is a plot device in movies which is a focus for choices made, but doesn’t actually do anything itself. A talisman is more a special object with some transformative power. It’s a tool that is used to change something rather than a prop to drive choices.
Michaelbrent Collings on Amazon – Michaelbrent is a lot of fun to listen to. He's the middle person of the picture for Rules for Magic Writing, shown above. He reviewed some of the challenges and pitfalls of working through Amazon when self-publishing. One was how to get into all the right subcategories. You can only specify two categories, but your keyword selection will be used to automatically place you in more specialized slots so it’s important to choose those keywords carefully. Also, if you’re not an expert at HTML formatting, pay someone to do it right.
|Me flanked by authors Scott Taylor and Scott Tarbot with Penny Freeman in the corner|
Mass Book Signing – This was a lot of fun Friday evening. I didn’t have any fantasy or science fiction on hand to sell, but it was a lot of fun to rub shoulders with the Xchyler folks for the evening and talk to lots of people as they wandered around buying books.