Archive for the ‘workshop’ Category

The Weekend Traveler

June 6, 2007

For the next few weeks, I’m turning into a weekend traveler. I’m out on ether Thursday or Friday and back on Sunday. It’s one of those schedules that looked good on paper but as the dates approach, I’m wondering what compelled me to agree months ago and some times well over a year ago. I’m committed to helping new writers and training other professionals.

Tomorrow I’m headed to Amarillo, Texas and the Frontiers in Writing Conference. I met some great folks there several years ago and look forward to seeing them again and making new friends. If you check the link you will see that I’m teaching a couple of workshops. I could have pulled out my old notes and handouts and used them with the group. It’s tempting since it is in a different part of the country from where I’ve taught the information in the past. I’ve attended such workshops where it feels like the speaker has pulled out their shop-worn notes to try on a new audience. As an audience member, I don’t like it so I’m not going to do that to others. Instead, I’ve put some extra effort into reworking my materials and bringing new information. It takes more effort but I believe it will pay off in the long run.

On a completely different topic, from time to time I read the Church of the Customer blog and enjoy their information. I found this post fascinating about how a blogger took a customer service matter and turned it into a PR nightmare for CompUSA.

If these entries about the writing life are some times sparse during June, just remember that I’m a weekend traveler this month–and on the road the next three weekends in a row.

Truth Telling at Conferences

April 7, 2007

Over the years, I’ve attended many conferences. Each conference has a different personal value in my life and distinction. I’ve learned to value the little conversations at these conferences and the short bursts of information–either that I am giving to others or they are giving to me. I learn a great deal from the exchanges.

Some elements of a conference are recorded such as most of the workshops. At Mount Hermon, I gave two workshops. Originally I was scheduled for one then at the last minute several members of the faculty couldn’t come so I substituted for one of them and taught an additional hour. For my additional hour, I taught Straight Talk From The Editor (or Agent), 18 Keys To A Rejection-Proof Submission. If it sounds familiar to you, much of the content is from my Amazon Short with the same title. I updated many of the examples in it and told some different stories yet the overall outline was the same. I brought some examples of submissions from my “strange but true” file which I keep just for these occasions (naturally not including the name of the writer or any way to identify this person). I had a packed room full of listeners and I thought it was well-received.

While the conference recorded the sessions, the audio people at this conference don’t duplicate the talks on the spot and sell them to the participants. Instead, they take orders and mail the product later. I brought my Edirol R-9 digital recorder to the conference and recorded my own sessions. Admittedly it looked a bit strange to have two microphones yet it allowed me to record my own session. Before the end of the day, I had transferred the recorded file to my laptop. Why take that step? Because the Amazon Short contract is an exclusive arrangement for the first six months. I will cross the threshold of this date soon and be positioned to launch another product from my recorded session. It’s a much more proactive step than I’ve taken in the past. Normally I pick up the recording, throw it into a drawer and do nothing with it. I’m learning to use these resources in other formats.

Back to my theme of conversations and truth telling. I asked one popular acquisitions editor at the conference from a large publisher about his work. He told me, “I love to acquire books but it takes such a high threshold to acquire a book. I can rarely find anything here.” I followed up asking what sort of threshold he was talking about. In all honesty, he said, “I need a guaranteed sale of at least 60,000 books through the trade channel (bookstores and chain stores).” Yeah, that’s a pretty high threshold and it would be rare for someone at the writer’s conference to have that sort of idea. Not impossible but rare.

During another conversation, a seasoned author explained her frustration with one of her writing projects. From her experience she knew the book would meet a need, yet she also knew it would be a difficult sell to the traditional publishers. With this author, I encouraged her to try and different course of action. Can she and her co-author tap the Internet market and create a buzz with an Ebook that may or may not become a traditional book product? She felt encouraged about the possibilities and to try it after our conversation.

Several times writers approached me with devotional book projects where they had poured their heart and soul into the proposal and the writing. The writing was built on the anvil of difficult personal experiences. From my view, I told them that it would be challenging to place such a project with a traditional publisher. Why? Because it’s rare for a publisher to take this type of book as a single book product. Instead the publishers are turning more to book packagers for these efforts. I encouraged them to look into approaching the packagers or working with the packagers and their idea. These authors were published in magazines but not books. Their book idea had merit but not in the way they were expecting. I hope they will learn from my hard-earned experience in this area. Yet I know each individual has to decide what they will do with the information and how they will apply it to their writing life.

With the millions of ideas and manuscripts in circulation, there are no easy answers for any of us. The key is to keep working on the storytelling and searching for the right place at the right time.

Apply The Lessons

March 22, 2007

Each of us have some things we do very well and others–well, we simply don’t do them at all. Maybe that’s OK not to do them but maybe you simply aren’t applying the lessons that you’ve been taught. It’s always good from my view to continue to grow, change and learn. It’s the mode that I’m in these days–and I’m determined to stay in this mode.

I’ve come to the understanding that I’ve not been as effective with my teaching for writers as I could be in the future. For many years, I’ve traveled the United States and Canada teaching at various writers’ conferences. It’s a rich experience for me and the opportunity to give back as well as learn from other writers. If you look at my schedule, you will see I’m continuing to travel and teach. In fact, I need to get over to the schedule page and add another conference from the last couple of weeks.

Many of these conferences are set up to record the sessions and sell workshop CDs (and it used to be cassette tapes). It’s a normal practice for the speakers to sign a release then receive a complementary copy of their workshop if they pick it up on the spot after the session. After my workshop, I’ll drop by and get my CD and carry it home. Then I stick it in a drawer and don’t think about it again–until I return from another conference. I haven’t been irresponsible with this material. I have not been proactive and sharing this wealth of information with others. I’m changing and applying some of what I’ve been learning.

At the Mega Book Marketing University in Los Angeles, I acquired some equipment to make some changes. I picked up an Edirol R-09 MP3 recorder, a telephone bridge and Sound Forge Audio Studio. I learned about this material from Mike Stewart, who is known as the Internet Audio Guy. You can follow his link to learn more about creating audio products and watch his demonstration videos.

I’ve been learning how to use the Edirol R-09–which is a complex professional digital recorder with loads of features. In the last couple of days, I managed to record a new introduction to one of my workshops about book proposal creation. Yesterday I used Sound Forge for the first time to make some simple edits to the workshop, then pasted in the new introduction. To my surprise, editing sound was like Mike Stewart had told me–very similar to editing a text file with the same sort of cut and paste functions. With a bit of a learning curve, it worked like the instructions and I managed to edit the audio of my workshop and send it into production. In the coming days, I’ll be telling you (and others) more about Editor Reveals Book Proposal Secrets.

One of the challenges with this project was getting the audio files sent to the production company. They told me about a site called This site was easy to use and accomplished the task to get the large file sent to someone else. It’s a good resource to know about if you need it. I learned the bulk of the techniques to produce audio product from Bob Bly’s Internet Marketing Retirement Plan. This four CD package is loaded with insight. I like the simplicity of the program. Bob out sources the majority of his production. I’m learning to apply the lessons from this material.

Each of us are on this journey to learn more information and apply it to our writing life. If you don’t have an online e-newsletter, I’d suggest you subscribe to my free newsletter and read the free ebook about it. Also read these articles about producing a newsletter. There are many articles to teach you about different aspects of writing through and these entries about the Writing Life. If you are looking for information about a particular publishing topic, use the search engine in the right-hand column of these entries. Then apply the lessons to your own writing life. It’s the course I’m taking and you can do the same.