Writing and Publishing on the Edge

Another weekend, another writing conference! This last one was Get Publishing’s Edge of Print event, and it was a heavy-hitter of sessions, panels, and pitch camps, plus lots of time to network.

The day opened with a keynote from Minister Faust (aka Malcolm Azania, aka Captain E-Town) called “Honing Your Edge.” As his bio says:

“Internationally-acclaimed, award-winning Edmonton author Minister Faust is a risk-taker. Through his trademarked mix of the comic and profound, he will reveal how he’s built and advanced his edge in style, in content, in research, in social networking, in multimedia, and in recognising the Next Big Thing, including his just-announced decision to leave Big-6 publishing, and, like J.A. Konrath …. go indie.”

Here are some of the nuggets from his talk (or at least what I wrote down between gulping coffee at 9 a.m. on a Saturday!):

  • Audacity. Writers must stop worrying what people will think of them or their work. Just go for it and remember that there’s really no such thing as good and bad art, just what you like and don’t like (despite what awards juries and literary canon-makers might tell you).
  • Accountability. Take on no more than you can handle, and identify distractions. Then remove them however you can. This includes Facebook, Twitter, and other ‘necessary’ tools.
  • Rethink everything: your attitudes, assumptions, and expectations. Also, go where the fear is and you will unveil your most remarkable work.
  • On crafting voice: eavesdrop and immitate people in your writing – immitation eventually (hopefully) leads to appreciation of distinct ways of speaking, accents, etc.
  • Leverage your skills. Do skill swaps with friends and colleagues!
  • Go Indie by avoiding publishers completely and publishing your own e-books. You’ll retain editorial control, can choose (and change) your own cover art and blurb length, and revise your book umpteen times. You’ve got to make sure you reduce barriers for readers to access and purchase your books; price them competitively; and deliver them instantaneously. You could also consider print-on-demand for those who want a hard copy.
  • Be on the technological edge of promotion. Do book trailers, 3-D book covers, and create downloadable wallpapers of your book.

Minister Faust certainly gave some good food for thought to go alongside the croissants and fruit, but it sparked the beginning of an interesting debate that permeated the other sessions. Is social media an exciting part of the author’s toolkit or a time suck? Are publishers important players or increasingly unnecessary? Are e-books and self-publishing the way to go, or a way to pump a whole lot of literary crap out into the world?

Over the next few days I’ll write up the rest of my notes and ponder these questions…

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