My first event of 2023 was the Apple City Book Fair in Jackson, OH. The event was hosted by Monday Creek Book Publishing (Nelsonville, OH) and the Jackson City Library (Jackson, OH).
When I worked in association management, spring was the beginning of "convention season." Warm weather and the oncoming flexibility of summer break for students had everyone working hard to organize and promote these events. It's no different for authors who participate in various fairs, conventions, conferences, festivals, etc.
A huge amount of work goes on behind the scenes to organize and manage fairs, festivals, conference, and conventions. Even a small event entails coordination with property managers, banquet personnel, program directors, speakers, and more. Small events may be effectively and efficiently managed by one or two people, but larger events with more than a couple of hundred attendees expected really need a team of people.
Because I've been the organizer behind the scenes, I understand the magnitude of work required. That's also why I don't organize events anymore. I appreciate the work they put into making these events happen.
Every event has multiple goals with one all-important ambition: to make money. An event must at least break even, although making a profit is better. Events have many, many expenses. Property must be rented. Equipment (audiovisual equipment, tables, chairs, podiums, microphones, etc.) must be rented. Food must be purchased. Speakers must be paid. Programs and marketing materials must be designed and printed (which costs money, too). And the organizer (and staff) must be paid. Event organizers try to defay costs by having in-house personnel write and design programs and marketing collateral, relying on social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to promote the event, relying on volunteer speakers and staff, engaging food vendors instead of providing meals, and more.
When I organized annual conferences, a small conference with upwards of 200 to 250 people easily racked up expenses in excess of $30,000 before staff were paid. And staff worked hard. I remember being on the job by 6:00 AM to ensure all meeting rooms and banquet services were properly set up and working until 11:00 PM without a break. After two or three days of that, my brain would turn into applesauce. Exhaustion does that, you know.
I understand the rigors involved in organization and managing events, which is why I tend to be forgiving of event staff when things don't go quite to plan. There are a lot of moving parts to track. I'll still be upset or annoyed, but I balance that with the understanding that comes from experience. The event organizer always has a chance to remedy the error, and I may be willing to compromise.
That happened recently. An event in which I am a registered vendor not only changed venues, it also dropped me from the vendor list. If I hadn't had the urge to check on hotel accommodations, I would not have discovered that until I arrived at the wrong location and tried to check in. The organizer neglected to notify me of the change in venue or the reassignment of my vendor space.
I was not pleased. However, I contacted the organizer with evidence of my paid registration fee and confirmation of my vendor space. That same day, the organizer apologized and corrected the error. He made it right. I'm satisfied. Now all I've got to do is help promote the event (like every other vendor is supposed to do) and hope that I will at least recoup my expenses.
Event participation requires a lot of time and effort from the vendor, too. This may be difficult for authors, many of whom are introverts (like me). Selling does not come naturally to us. I'm always physically, emotionally, and mentally drained by the end of any event. My expenses cover not just the registration fee, but travel (fuel, hotel accommodations, meals), inventory, and other accoutrements (tables, chairs, table cloths, business cards, signage, etc.). I don't factor the cost of my time into the expenses, because that would just hurt.
Being an author is like any business endeavor: profit is needed to remain in business. While an author has more than one goal in event participation, books sales remains critically important to an author's ability to continue to participate. Some authors work in concert with others. I attend most events with my best friend who's an artist. Not only do we sell my books, but we sell our paintings. My sister-in-law will be participating in a few events with me this year, too. She makes chain mail jewelry. A variety of items attracts a variety of attendees. We can help one another by promoting our different wares, watching over the booth when one of us needs a break, etc. Sometimes, it's my hobby (painting) that enables me to break even or make a profit at an event.
If you're an author, especially a self-published or indie author, and you need some good advice about participating in events as vendor, I highly recommend Working the Table: An Indie Author's Guide to Conventions by Lee French and Jeffrey Cook. I bought their book years ago and it's been a great help!
If you want to see where I'll be this year, go to my EVENTS page. If you'll be attending any of these events and wish to buy books (and make sure that the titles you want are available), then use the pre-order form to reserve your copies. No payment is required to reserve copies of books; however, any books not claimed and purchased during the event will be put back in regular inventory for sale later.
Over the past week, I've encountered several posts in various groups by people asking how to start writing their books. They range from "How to I write a novel?" to "I don't know what to write; can you help me?"
The flippant answer is: "Once upon a time ..."
For people who have little to no experience writing books but have a story idea and want to produce the Great American Novel, there's no one sure way to do this that does not involve the following:
Just about everyone learns the basics of writing in school; however, that doesn't mean everyone is good at it. (I took advanced algebra way back when and—trust me—I am not good at math.) One way to improve your mastery of the craft of writing is to analyze your favorite authors' work. What about their writing appeals to you? Note their sentence structure, the language they use, and how they use it. Then emulate their writing. Do that enough and you'll develop your own style and voice. It also helps to understand the conventions of good grammar so that you understand the structure and mechanics of language. When you have that comprehension, you can then break those language conventions to great effect because you know when, how, and why you're doing do.
A lot of first-time authors also flounder when they finish their drafts and realize their stories are not nearly as perfect as they'd hoped. In fact, the truism is that your first draft will be garbage. Get used to it.
The first draft is meant for the writer's eyes only. It's not to be shared. The purpose of the first draft is to get the story down. The second draft is for developing and refining the story: integrating those disparate parts into a cohesive whole. This means filling in those polt holes, weaving together subplots, tying up loose ends, and finessing the language. When you've done that, it's time to work on a third draft.
Every story begins with an idea. That idea may be a "what if" type of scenario, an entire scene that ignites the urge to write, or something else. The truth is an idea is not valuable in itself. Ideas are plentiful and worthless: development of ideas takes time, effort, and skill. That's where the value lies.
The second type of aspiring author who doesn't even have an idea isn't ready to write a story. What such people want is to have written a story. If you want the title of "author" and don't have the skill, inclination, or motivation to do the actual writing, then consider hiring a ghostwriter.
Let's say you love westerns. You've watched those movies with Clint Eastwood, James Garner, John Wayne, and John Ford and you've read the books by Louis L'Amour and Zane Grey and you just love them. You want to be the author of a western. This is where AI can help you.
Enter some names that appeal to you and would be appropriate for the era. Include some character traits to add depth. Enter some plot points you want to hit: a stampede, a gunfight, a saloon brawl, a cattle drive, a stagecoach journey, a train robbery, etc. AI content generators will help you come up with a story summary or synopsis that you can adapt into an outline. Or hire a ghostwriter who will adapt the synopsis into an outline, then write an original story for you.
The "idea" is yours; the output is yours, too, because ghostwriting is work-for-hire and you will own it. The benefit of hiring a ghostwriter is that you don't have to spend countless hours (or years) mastering the craft of writing, and the ghostwriter (who has that well-developed expertise) will write the story better than you can.
Hen House Publishing specializes in fiction ghostwriting, particularly in the genres of fantasy, romance, and westerns. If you have a manuscript that's ready to progress in the publishing journey, Hen House Publishing offers substantive editing, proofreading, and book design services. Put 30-plus years of experience to work for your book.
#ghostwriting #henhousepublishing #storywriting #fictionwriting #greatamericannovel
When it comes to publishing, especially for authors who self-publish, it's important to hire the right people for the right tasks. Sure, you can do it all yourself, but is that really smart?
I have likened publishing to construction. A general contractor hires subcontractors in various specialties to do expertly what he cannot. These specialties include disparate skills in plaster, masonry, wiring, plumbing, tile, security, computer networks, etc. Just like the general contractor, the author cannot expect to be an expert at all the specialties that go into producing a top quality book: editing, proofreading, book design, cover design, marketing. OK, that last isn't really a part of book production, but it is critical to book sales.
For those authors who need some extra help, it pays to know the right kind of people to hire someone prepared to do the work as expected. It's not always a good match.
Case in point, a writer in a Facebook writing group hired a developmental editor to teach her how to master "show, don't tell." This person provided the editor with pages of her manuscript which was only in the second draft stage. The editor provided a developmental edit and returned some unkind comments, but did not provide the requested instruction.
I commented that it was possible the editor may have misunderstood the parameters of the gig. (We never got the editor's side of the story.) I also stated that editors generally don't teach. And the conversation blew up. Someone defending the original poster (OP) immediately argued that editors do teach and are, because people learn from them, teachers. I disagreed. The commentator stated that I obviously did not understand what she meant. I did; I simply disagreed with her definition of the word "teach."
The commentator stated that her definition formed the socially accepted meaning of the word "teach" and that I had extremely narrow and literal interpretations terminology. I used the Merriam-Webster definition (Merriam-Webster is the CMOS' acknowledged and preferred reference for definitions) and reiterated that editors generally don't teach as in they generally don't hire themselves out to provide instruction. The commentator told me I was stupid and deliberately confusing the issue.
I disagree with that. But then, I would. Of course. As for my narrow and literal interpretation of words, that's an occupational hazard. As a writer and an editor, I need to know the precise and correct meaning(s) of the words used to ensure they are used in the proper manner or, if not, then their meaning is understood. I did not succeed in the run of that exchange.
I agreed with the commentator on a couple of points and attempted to respond to her comments in a rational and dispassionate manner. The OP hopped into the conversation and stated she'd never hire me as an editor because I don't teach, but I'd probably be good as a proofreader which she doesn't need because she's already really good at grammar. (I think I dodged a potential bullet there.) Then she noted that I apparently believe that no editor teaches.
No, that was not what I stated. She missed the operative word: generally. I even highlighted that word as key. I also explained that I welcome questions from my clients if they don't understand the edits made to their documents. I don't consider that teaching; I consider that explanation. The author chooses whether to agree with the explanation and/or accept the edit. The author chooses whether to learn. However, my objective is not to instruct, but to foment understanding. I'm an editor, not an instructor. I don't have that kind of patience.
Once again, there appears to be an issue of reading for comprehenion. So, I'll try to make this clear:
I'm not going to argue as to who was right or wrong. I will admit to having once again unwisely embroiled myself into a lose-lose exchange with someone who doesn't care to learn when I actually am engaged in instruction. Perhaps, I, too, need to read for comprehension.
LISTEN TO A PODCAST!
Rose Cushing, the host of Speaking of Writing, interviewed Karen Smith (aka Holly Bargo). Follow the hyperlink to Rose's PODCAST.