Monday, April 05, 2010


My Reasons for Wanting to Win a Scholarship to Attend the Backspace Writers Conference

Recently I interviewed one of my childhood heroes for a magazine pitch. It was a thrill to visit his art studio and see decades of his work on display. He started his artist's career when a friend suggested he move from real estate development into another field. Needing some educational backing, he worked to receive his MFA.

He taught during his graduate studies, incorporating his business background and instructing his students on how to manage a career in art. The school's administration balked. He related to me that the administration told him artists need to create and not to worry about the business aspects of art. He left academia, but not before befriending many of the students he had helped.

Since that interview, I've wondered where I would be if I could have learned about the business aspects of publishing from someone like him. Echoing in my brain are inspiring and creative words from many of my MFA professors. Unfortunately, few words come to mind about navigating the business aspects of the publishing world.

Novel ideas continue to percolate in my brain. However, income-producing writing assignments hold my daily focus. For me, the day-to-day joys of writing are to learn something new each day, to converse with someone who also loves books, and to know that I can apply my backspace key liberally. But my long-term goal is to earn a living as a novelist and a writer.

While trying to publish my first novel, finding an agent has become discouraging and, regretfully, has taken a backseat. After initially enthusiastic responses from agents, I've had my novel rejected numerous times and other proposals have failed to engage anyone’s interest.

I am turning to conferences to help find caring communities to help move my agent search into the front seat while filling the gaps in my knowledge of the business of writing. In addition, I hope to find a group that can help me learn and grow as a writer, enabling me to exchange my skills as I gain experience.

With the Backspace Writers Conference, which covers craft and navigating the tricky terrain of the publishing world, I’ve found the right outlet to support my growth as a writer. By incorporating the practice of writers helping writers, Backspace’s founders have recognized the importance of building a community among writers. (As have the creators of Women On Writing!)

One of the many things that appeals to me about Backspace is the opportunity to connect with people in the publishing world and to discuss writing without the pressure to pitch. Backspace will allow me to learn what I need to present my best work and publish. This conference gives me an opportunity to speak with publishing world pros, to learn from them and to find a common ground and positive direction.

I would like to attend the Backspace Writers Conference and its Agent-Author Seminar because it is the next step in my education in the business of writing while meeting a great community of supportive publishing people.

What about you? Is there a conference you would like to attend and why?

Elizabeth King Humphrey is a writer and creativity coach. When she is not researching and trying to win scholarships to writers' conferences, Elizabeth contributes to AOL's ParentDish and she blogs at The Write Elizabeth, delving into creativity in everyday places.

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Friday, January 23, 2009


Getting People to Your Writing Events

Publicizing a writer's event is something that is on my mind these days as I work as the publicity chair for the 94th Annual Missouri Writers' Guild conference, held in Cape Girardeau on April 3, 4, and 5. I am excited to be involved with this project as we are going to have some WONDERUL speakers, including WOW!'s very own editors--Angela Mackintosh and Annette Fix--as well as TV Writer Lee Goldberg, Simon and Schuster editor Kate Angelella, and Pulitizer Prize nominee Harvey Stanbrough.

It's also on my mind because as I become more involved with social networking, blogging, listservs, and email newsletters, I see several events such as book signings, writing classes, workshops, and conferences advertised every day. On Facebook, I am invited to several different events, and I wish I could attend them all but distance, time, and expense play a factor in my being able to attend.

So, how do you make your event stand out above the rest? How do you get more than just your family to your book signing? This is something I've been thinking about a lot lately, and so far I've come up with only a couple answers. I'm hoping some of you, Muffin readers, will have some more ideas.

Here's what I think:

1. You must offer something in return to your attendees for their time and money. One of my writing friends, Alice McGinty, who writes for children, often offers a craft and refreshments at her book signings. Her craft goes along with her books and makes people want to bring their children for an hour or two of entertainment by a children's author.

At the Missouri Writers' Guild Conference in Cape Girardeau, we are offering attendees, for the price of admission, at least one face-to-face meeting with an agent or editor. So, not only do conference attendees get a weekend of writing workshops and networking opportunities, they also get a chance to meet with a professional that they might not normally meet. Many authors have gotten published this way.

2. Another way to make your event stand out is for YOU to attend others' events. It's kind of like that old saying, "If I scratch your back, then you'll scratch mine." Be as supportive as you can of others' careers. You obviously can't attend everything that comes your way, but you can email friends about opportunities or include listings on your blog and so on.

3. And finally network, network, network. If people know you and respect you, they are more likely to attend something you are recommending.

Please share any other ideas you have!

Happy publicizing!

Margo Dill
Read These Books and Use Them (blog)

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