Saturday, March 06, 2010

ANNUAL SYMPOSIUM OF THE WRITERS' UNION OF CANADA

  

Yesterday's TWUC annual symposium was, as always, excellent and played to a full house of emerging and established writers and authors. Secure Footing in a Changing Literary Landscape brought both scary and exciting news for those who seek publication.

   Betsy Warland, Ross Laird, and Debra Windsor (TWUC's Exec. Director) delivered the ten presentations with humour, knowledge and skill. The information came at us thick and fast, almost all of which was smack up to date and some of which was provocative. The handouts arrived on a thumb-drive, one for every registrant, so caused minimal destruction of trees. This idea was a huge hit.

   Over the next couple of weeks, I shall be blogging the details of what I learned but here are some highlights:
  • Even published authors are finding it challenging to get their latest mss published
  • Mid-list authors are the hardest hit by the downturn
  • All mss must be polished to a high gloss before submission or will be rejected
  • Publishers are only publishing books that are guaranteed to sell well
  • Advances have dropped 50%
  • Publishers are so short-staffed their communications with prospective authors have nose-dived
  • Aspiring and published authors need a substantial platform, which must include a strong web presence
  • Column inches for reviews have reduced by 40%
  • Now is the time to get your rights back for out-of-print books and self-publish them electronically to sell on your website
  • Be afraid of obscurity and fear NOT the piracy of your work - get it out there!
  • Creative nonfiction is the hot ticket
   Ross Laird focused on building an author's online platform (presence) for nearly half the day. First, he did a straw poll of the attendees regarding websites, blogs, and use of social media, which showed that far too few writers employ them to advantage. Then he demonstrated how the Web 2.0 can increase a writer's chances of getting pubbed, grow book sales, and how easy it is to get on board.

   I have a lot to process before I post again and a few items to put into practice, but watch for more in the coming days and weeks.

Question: As a serious writer, do you have a website in your own name? e.g. www.julieferguson.ca. A blog?