I just got back from the SC Book Festival and I loved being there. I’ve been attending for many years, but it was a blast to come back as a featured author. The SC Book Festival features authors across many many genres, and I often attend sessions where the presenters write in genres completely different from mine, because that is sometimes where I learn the most.
After teaching a workshop on Friday to a great group of aspiring authors, I had the opportunity to meet and attend presentations with lots of other authors. I thought a one-or-two sentence round-up of what I learned from these successful writers might be entertaining and enlightening.
Ron Rash: When he did a reading, I couldn’t help noticing that he tended to end most sentences with a heavy word, so his prose has a definite rhythm. I wonder if this is intentional, or just something that came naturally to him after years of working as a poet.
Miranda Parker: Shared her road to publication, which included taking an online course from the Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club, where she was the only female, the only African American, and the only christian in the group. She also told about how her writer’s group collected chapters of her novel and sent them to a publisher without telling her. Their act resulted in a three book deal for Miranda!
Zane: Bestselling author and high-powered publisher Zane entertained us with a great story about hiding her identity from her parents for five years because of the sensuous nature of her books. Her books made her a millionaire long before she quit her day job! When asked what she likes to read most she surprised me by saying, “self-help books.”
Richard Paul Evans: Super smart and business savvy, Richard was nice enough to share some tips on building an audience with a few of us, one of them being to add a mailing list to our websites. His books are wildly successful, having sold over 15 million copies, so I will be taking that advice!
Amy Carol Reeves: Amy and I were on a panel together! She described how she used her PhD in nineteenth century literature to craft a book on Jack the Ripper. She also discussed the advantages of having an agent who is involved in the revision process.
I met many other great people including book sellers, book lovers, and industry professionals. One thing I took away from the conference, that I hope the aspiring writers did too, was that most of these successful authors mentioned using craft-based books, and taking classes before getting their manuscripts ready for publication. Book festivals like the SC Book Festival are usually free, and a great way to learn from other authors!