Podcast: The Right First Steps to Getting Published

William Notte, featured speaker at the BWW 2015 auction

William Notte, featured speaker at the BWW 2015 auction

In this podcast, we hear from William Notte. Notte spent seven years as the acquisitions editor for a publishing house. During this time he reviewed (and rejected) thousands of book proposals. His presentation will walk you through the process of pitching your book (fiction or nonfiction) and point out common mistakes even experienced writers make that could lead to a book’s rejection. You’ll learn why you shouldn’t get too excited about your idea for your book’s cover, what words you should avoid in your pitch letter, and how self-publishing primes you for traditional publishing.

Enjoy, and remember, you can subscribe to the BWW podcast with iTunes. Just search for “Burlington Writers Workshop” and you’ll see that familiar old green logo.

The World Needs Carnival Barkers, Too

At the risk of giving too much attention to a certain Huffington Post article, I really must comment on a few ideas its author shares.

The premise of the article is that you must not, under any circumstances, publish several books in a single year—that you must take your time and publish less frequently, because that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you create art.

It’s directed at self-published authors, who are allegedly being told that publishing often (up to four times a year) is a good idea.

Frankly, I don’t know if publishing so often is a good idea for you. Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t. It’s not a good idea for me personally because I simply don’t feel comfortable writing that quickly. It ain’t my style. (Also, I have a full-time job.) But depending on your goals and your abilities as a writer, it could be a perfect approach for you. I don’t know you, my dear writer friend, so I won’t presume to know what’s good for you.

That’s why I object to the author’s blanket prohibition on publishing often as a legitimate career path. She writes:

“No matter what experts tell you, no matter what trends, conventional wisdom, social media chatter or your friends in the Facebook writers group insist upon, do NOT write four books a year. I mean it. Don’t.”

I don’t dispute that writing quickly could result in crappy prose or poetry, as the author maintains. In fact, I agree that writing too quickly is likely (though not guaranteed) to make your writing suck.

But I object to the author’s assumption that self-published authors don’t care about quality. Every single self-published author I’ve met—even the ones who choose to publish multiple titles in a year—has cared deeply about quality. The author of the article assumes that the self-published author prioritizes quantity over quality because quantity is mentioned first in Bowker’s advice to them. Based on my knowledge of self-published authors, I can only assume that quantity is mentioned first because the need to write high-quality stuff is such an obvious given that it need not be mentioned.

(For what it’s worth, Bowker sells ISBNs, so they have an incentive to tell self-published writers to publish often. It’s unclear to me how prevalent the “publish often” approach truly is, and the article does not shed light on it any meaningful, data-driven way.)

So to the author of this article, I say: Perhaps tending to your own garden would be the best approach.

Here’s why:

If you throw out edicts like, “Don’t publish four times a year,” you’re telling those writers who want to publish frequently that their approach is wrong, and there is no possible way you could know that it’s wrong if you don’t know what a given writer wants to achieve.

In your “clarification,” you write that your article isn’t a suggestion that there’s just “one way” to do things. You may believe that there are many ways to be a writer, but you are saying pretty clearly that this particular way is wrong. And that’s where you’re wrong.

Maybe it’s because I’m now living in the “Live Free or Die” state, but I feel like writers should be left to write and publish or not publish as they please, without unwarranted criticism from other members of the writing community. Such criticism creates an atmosphere of self-doubt, and self-doubt can crush a writer’s productivity. The article is the opposite of supportive, and writers need support from their peers to thrive, even if that support comes by creating an atmosphere that welcomes all comers.

So if you disapprove of someone publishing four times annually, here’s what you can and should do about it:

Nothing.

Nothing—because it doesn’t affect you if someone puts four lousy books on Amazon in a given year or over the course of a decade. Maybe those prolific and hasty folks will further damage the bad reputation that self-published books have. But maybe not. I believe discerning readers will know the difference between well- and poorly-written books and ignore the word on the street about self-publishing as a practice.

On The Bookshelf at New Hampshire Public Radio, I give self-published books and traditionally published books equal consideration. I can see through the nonsense. The quantity of books in the marketplace doesn’t make my job harder, nor does it diminish me as a writer. So it’s not for me, or anyone, to say how often self-published authors should release new work.

The truth is that not many years ago some people at elite institutions and in the publishing world issued similar commands about self-publishing in general. They argued that self-published authors wouldn’t have access to the same editorial guidance, savvy marketing professionals, or design specialists who know how to make a book a thing of beauty. And they were wrong—both in their assessment of the self-publishing world and their decision to issue “advice” when they had no authority to do so.

There are lots of different kinds of writers out there. There are writers like Donna Tartt and Anthony Doerr who each take about a decade to write their novels. There are writers like Stephen King who write at least one each year. And there are some who pump them out every three months. It’s how they work. And there’s not a damned thing wrong with that.

The author of the article writes: “You are a professional author working [on] your book your way. Be an artist, don’t be a carnival barker. Be a wordsmith, not a bean-counter. Be patient, not hysterical. Transact wisely, but don’t lose your soul in the process.” (Italics original, but I added the “on” because, well, it seems like someone was writing/editing too quickly.)

I really don’t understand what “your way” means in this context. After all, the article is slamming the very people who make it their way to write and publish often. “Your way” must mean the slower pace the author herself prefers, though I hesitate to say for sure what it means. But I digress.

Carnival Barker at the Vermont State Fair, 1941

Carnival Barker at the Vermont State Fair, 1941

In my view, it takes all kinds of writers to serve the diverse reading public. Some readers like the work of the so-called “artists.” Others like the work of “carnival barkers.” Some like both. In fact, lots of readers devour the carnival barker books while waiting for the artists to get around to publishing their latest opus. One could argue that carnival barkers keep readers in the habit of reading while they wait for their favorite “artist” to produce something new.

So carnival barkers should keep barking at their own pace, and ignore the call from artist-types to slow down. Such calls are reminiscent of that especially wonderful kind of vegetarian—the kind that has chosen not to eat meat and tells everyone else at the dinner table that they too should go veg. What’s more annoying than that?

So hurry hurry hurry, step right up, ladies and gents, because there’s something fun underneath that circus tent, and fortunately for you, there are lots and lots of tents.

How To Get Published in Literary Magazines: Reflections on Michelle Watters’ Workshop

by Liz Cantrell

Michelle Watters, assistant poetry editor for Mud Season Review

Michelle Watters, assistant poetry editor for Mud Season Review

Publishing one’s work in literary magazines and journals is a daunting process. Fear of rejection, information overload, and lack of organization can prevent any writer from pursuing publication.

The BWW is fortunate to have regular members who have successfully published their work—including Michelle Watters, assistant poetry editor for Mud Season Review—who hosted a recent workshop to advise writers on the submission process.

Continue reading

Opportunities and Announcements: Week of January 26, 2015

From left to right: Peter Biello, Megan Mayhew Bergman, Dede Cummings, Zach Despart, Suzanne Kingsbury, and Kerrin McCadden.

From left to right: Peter Biello, Megan Mayhew Bergman, Dede Cummings, Zach Despart, Suzanne Kingsbury, and Kerrin McCadden.

This week, we hosted a panel discussion called “Five Writers on Writing and Money.” Panelists Megan Mayhew Bergman, Dede Cummings, Zach Despart, Suzanne Kingsbury, and Kerrin McCadden shared their thoughts on a variety of writing/money-related issues, such as taxes, grants, conferences, MFA programs, and finding the balance between work and writing.

One of the big takeaways of the evening, for me, was: guard your writing time. Kerrin McCadden described her ten-hour writing sessions at an airport as a way to protect herself from interruptions. It’s good advice. As you know, life gets in the way of writing. We ought to protect those writing hours from whatever else may intrude.

We’ve produced a podcast of the event, so if you couldn’t make it, you can still benefit from the wisdom these five writers shared.

Now, here are this week’s opportunities and announcements.

Opportunities

The BWW is assembling a team, led by Laban Hill, to reach out and tell the stories of new Americans in Chittenden County. This team would engage the local immigrant population in a variety of ways, to be determined by the volunteers on the team. Our goal is to attract people who may not naturally find us and empower local immigrants through first-person storytelling. Contact us if you’re interested in helping out.

Poem City in Montpelier and Randolph is happening in April, and you can send your submissions here.

Announcements

Jerry Johnson will be giving a reading with Reeve Lindberg on Saturday, February 7th from 3-6 p.m. at Star Cat Books in Bradford, Vermont. Learn more here.

Author and teacher Stephen Kiernan and New York Times book reviewer Christopher Lehmann-Haupt will speak at the League of Vermont Writers’ annual meeting on January 31st at 8:30 a.m. More information is available here.

Sponsors

Thanks to the Marble House Project for sponsoring the BWW this month. You can learn more about the Marble House Project here.

Opportunities and Announcements: Week of July 7, 2014

The financial advisory committee met last week and, among other things, we’ve decided that Cathy Beaudoin will be our volunteer accountant. Cathy is an Assistant Professor at The University of Vermont School of Business. She’s taken the records I’ve been keeping and whipped them into professional shape. If you’d like to receive a copy of the balance sheet, please sign up for our email list.I’ll send it later this week.

Here are the opportunities and announcements for this week. Continue reading

Five Reasons You Should Submit To Mud Season Review

MSR-logo-rectangleThe Burlington Writers Workshop launched Mud Season Review a few weeks ago. It’s a literary journal run by BWW writers, featuring fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and art. So far we’ve received a ton of submissions, which is great. We’re looking forward to receiving more before our first deadline, August 1st.

Here are a few reasons why you, intrepid writer, should submit to Mud Season Review.

1. Mud Season celebrates you. MSR will feature your fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and art for a whole month. Plus you’ll also be interviewed about your work.

2. It’s an honor to publish in MSR. Given the quantity and quality of submissions we’ve received so far, it’s likely that we’ll have an acceptance rate of less than one percent. That means whatever we publish is going to be top-notch work.

3. If you need feedback, MSR can help. It’s run by members of a writing workshop, which means writers who need helpful feedback to receive it. For $12, an editor will provide you with a thoughtful response to your work. The editor will address what’s working well and what’s not working well and identify opportunities for growth and development.

4. It’s free to submit your work. So why not?

5. We’ll throw a party for you. On September 20th, we’ll launch our first digital issue at Hotel Vermont. We want you to be there, but if you can’t make it, we’ll still celebrate the work you’ve done. Perhaps, if you use Skype, you could join us by webcam!

If you have questions about Mud Season Review, contact the editors. They’ll be happy to answer your questions.

Good luck!

Want To Meet An Agent?

HemlvwOur fiscal sponsor, the League of Vermont Writers, is hosting “Writers Meet Agents” on Saturday, July 19th from 8:30 a.m – 4:30 p.m. at the Hampton Inn Burlington. With seven literary agents taking part, the “Writers Meet Agents” event is a great way to expand your writing network with professionals and peers.

Agents appreciate writers who take the time to learn the ropes and meet them at events. Even without a book project ready to pitch, writers who meet agents at conferences gain a foot in the door for future queries.

Of particular interest to BWW members, in addition to the agents (of course), is my session on giving and receiving feedback, both in a workshop setting and one-on-one with friends and colleagues. As regular workshoppers, we’re always giving feedback. After doing workshops with the BWW for five years, and spending an additional six years six years of academic workshops, I’ve learned quite about about what works well and what works less well in giving and receiving responses, and I’m happy the League of Vermont Writers has given me this forum to share what I’ve learned with you.

Additional programming that includes round table discussions with agents and presentations by YA author Jo Knowles and NYC super agent Katharine Sands. There are more agents coming and more programs scheduled, so I invite you to check out the details here.

Opportunities and Announcements: Week of May 12, 2014

The staff of Mud Season Review has been chosen. Those folks will get together soon to figure out some work-flow details and I’m really looking forward to seeing what they come up with. Even though the masthead positions have been chosen, you’ll still be able to get involved. If you have ideas, especially for the logo design, please contact us to share your thoughts/design ideas.

Here are the opportunities and announcements this week. Continue reading

Publishing Your Work: Panelists Answer More of Your Questions

The panelists from “Publishing Your Work: When, How, Why” agreed to answer you follow-up questions. Here are their answers.

Q. How would one get started with publishing poetry?

jessicaswifteldridge

Jessica Swift Eldridge

Jessica Swift Eldridge: Look into Poets and Writers and Publisher’s Marketplace. Ask questions on social media about how others got started. Find information about your favorite poets and how they got their starts.

Dede Cummings: Join Poets & Writers. Submit to small journals and local publications/contests. Attend workshops.

Q. How can you judge if your manuscript has a chance at winning a contest? Do you need individual poems published in particular places? Do you need to feel a kinship with the judge’s poetry, or with the poetry published by the journal sponsoring the contest?

Jessica Swift Eldridge: I don’t know that you can judge whether you have a chance of winning, outside of: ensuring that your work is the best it can (it’s been edited and beta read); ensuring that the manuscript actually coincides with the guidelines of the contest; and you feel confident putting your work “out there.” I suspect that it would be important for the poet to feel like their poetry is a good fit for whatever publication/contest they’re submitting to. Without that connection, it may feel like your work doesn’t belong where you’re submitting. I see nothing wrong with submitting to any contest you think you might have a chance of winning and/or gaining recognition from.

DedeThumbnailbyJeffWoodward

Dede Cummings

Dede Cummings: Check out what types of poems they are publishing. If you are a nature poet, look at Orion. If political, look at Kenyon Review. It is extremely competitive. As I mentioned, my work somehow made its way to Connotation Press. Very small but nurturing publisher. I love them.

Q: If a poetry contest wants to know your plan for promoting your book should they publish it, what is a good plan?

Jessica Swift Eldridge: Marketing plans can be very difficult to create without a marketing background, so I am not giving anything other than my opinion here. Many publishers are looking for and asking about the writer’s social media platforms. How many Facebook fans do you have? How many Twitter followers? Do you blog? How many visitors do you get? I think a solid marketing plan includes an explanation of how the author is going to effectively utilize social media to gain/maintain buzz. Many publishers now want to ensure that the writer is already marketing themselves and their work. What are you doing to establish/develop a social media presence? If you’re not, what will you do?

Being available for and willing to participate in speaking engagements and/or readings is another component of a marketing plan. But remember, the publisher is asking what the author will do. Do you have connections with libraries/book stores/speaker’s bureaus? Are you willing to establish and/or set up these speaking opportunities? Do you have already have potential opportunities in the works?

Dede Cummings: Tell them you will work tirelessly to promote—readings, media, schools, libraries, PR—present your own marketing plan and PR plan. Secure some in advance, locally, if you can. I have one poet I am publishing (Leland Kinsey of the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont) who is scheduling his own statewide tour in April when his book comes out. He is a force!

Q: Should someone who has not published a book of poetry submit only to “first/second book” contests, or consider others as well?

Dede Cummings: I am not a fan of spending tons of money to submit. I look for contests for first book, smaller magazines. Build a resume that way. Last year, I submitted to the Vermont Poetry Broadside Series and came in second place—that can go on my resume now! Small and steady is Dede’s advice, though submit to the occasional magazine or journal—why not? Getting a form letter is a bummer, but getting a personal note is the bom! (Almost better than getting a publishing deal…almost!)

Question for Jessica Swift Eldridge: Is the level of control vastly different working with your own company versus working as an employee of a publishing house? Do you feel like your editorial services go to more artistic work than in the larger publishing world?

JSE: One of the benefits of having created my own company is that I get to choose the projects I work on, rather than being told by a publisher or an editorial director what I’ll be editing. I work with numerous authors and writers who are intentionally pursuing and/or are continuing to self-publish. As a result of this, I get the opportunity to work with some incredible writers who are extraordinarily talented, but their work may not be considered “mainstream” enough for the traditional publishing world, though there is still a market for it. By working closely with the writer, I get to be very artistic in terms of establishing structure for the manuscript (a very creative process), working on cover design ideas, and looking at other areas of publishing, like interior design. By working with independent clients, my work often becomes about the author’s/writer’s voice and tone in their work, rather than simply ensuring that a manuscript conforms to a “house standard.” This is NOT to say that I didn’t get to be creative when I worked in-house, I just prefer the freedom and flexibility I have now, and the relationships I develop with my clients are much closer than what I was able to develop when I worked in-house.

Q for JSE: What does an editor get paid?

JSE: Editorial and design rates vary depending on numerous factors, including: the provider’s experience, type of service, length of manuscript, etc. For more information and to get a GENERAL idea of rates, visit http://www.the-efa.org/res/rates.php.

Q for JSE: As an editor, what drives you crazy?

JSE: Great question. Nothing really makes me crazy. But there is one thing that I commonly encounter that does get to me—writers feeling insecure about themselves and their creations, to the point where they start to have doubt. For example, I’ve been told, “Oh, my manuscript is so bad, you probably don’t even want to look at it,” and “I’m sure it’s full of errors so don’t bother reading it if you don’t want to.” Writing is extraordinarily personal; I understand that. And passing your work off to someone who is going to read it and critique it is incredibly scary. I understand that, too. But I want to tell writers to have confidence in themselves. The goal of working with an editor is to learn and grow in your writing. So be proud of what you’ve created. Approach sharing it with others with an attitude of excitement. After all, you wouldn’t tell someone your child is ugly, so why tell someone your manuscript “baby” is terrible. Go forth and write! It’s a process. An exciting one.

Jan Elizabeth Watson

Jan Elizabeth Watson

Question for Jan Elizabeth Watson: What has your experience in publishing shown you about the world of published authors? Do you hope to one day publish with a major publishing house or do you plan to continue to publish independently?

Jan Elizabeth Watson: My second novel, What Has Become of You, is actually going to be published by Dutton, and imprint of Penguin/Random House, which is now the largest publisher in the world. The publication date is May 1st, 2014. Although there are many merits to independent publishing, I have to say that I have already had a more satisfactory and gratifying experience working with the larger house. I certainly feel more validated and more equipped to consider big-ticket items that I thought might not be possible—paying off my graduate student loan debt and buying my own home, for example.

As for what my experience in publishing has shown me about the world of published authors, I have clearly seen that there are many talented writers who go unpublished due to the restrictions of the current market and the limited budgets at most publishing houses today. This is not a reason to despair, but it does mean that the writer who seeks publication must be especially resilient.

Q for JEW: How influential was your MFA program in shaping your writing style?

JEW: My style didn’t alter much at all, and I noticed right away that I was writing in a distinctly different style from most of my fellow workshoppers, who were writing clipped, postmodern stories. My influences come mostly from early English novels and contemporary writers like A.S. Byatt and William Trevor. I have a natural tendency toward expansiveness, and I learned some good editing habits in the MFA program; I learned the difficult lesson of having to sometimes trim back one’s voluptuous prose in order to keep narrative momentum. I suppose I developed more precision in my writing also, though I think a lot of this has also stemmed from my teaching experience, post-MFA.

Q for JEW: What value do MFA programs have?

JEW: What value MFA programs have depends entirely on the individual who is considering one. I don’t believe that MFA programs are for everyone, and by no means do I think they predict career success as a writer. In my own particular case, I pursued an MFA because I loved the workshop experience. I loved the little electric buzz that goes around the conference table during an especially productive workshop session; it was like a drug! I knew, also, that I wanted to teach writing at the college level so that I could help others experience this same sensation. My MFA enabled me to do that.

Jon Clinch

Jon Clinch

Question for Jon Clinch: Was your decision to move to your own imprint a financial decision or a personal one? Did you think you could produce work that is more profitable on your own label, or did you make the move because you felt you couldn’t do the work your own way with a major publication?

Jon Clinch: I’d had such a good experience with my pen-name project, WHAT CAME AFTER, that I thought I’d give it a shot. Additionally, I was disappointed in how KINGS OF THE EARTH had been handled by my publisher. Although it was Oprah’s number one book for the summer, it wasn’t available in stores until a couple of months later — by which time it had fallen out of the public consciousness.

Q for JC: How and why did you change agents? How did you address the question of why you were leaving your old agent?

JC: My first agent wanted to control my word-by-word output, in a way that proved both unhelpful and unnecessary. His ear for what I was doing — and thus, most likely, his set of contacts for selling my work — was all wrong. As for addressing the question, let’s just say that it didn’t come as any surprise to him.

Q for JC: How does being on top of the Amazon list translate into dollars? Is it worth aspiring to?

JC: Selling more books, at least as long as you’re really selling them and not just giving them away for a few pennies, is always to be aspired to.

Q for JC: Why use a pen name?

JC: WHAT CAME AFTER wasn’t in keeping with the brand identity I’d established for myself with FINN and KINGS OF THE EARTH. Plus, by using a pen name I was able to keep the self-publishing experiment clean.

Q for JC: How did the experience of publishing The Thief of Auschwitz compare to publishing your other literary novels traditionally?

Q: It was just as nerve-wracking. As for the financial end, I’d say THIEF has earned as much as or more than an average literary novel with a big house. It has not served me as well as FINN and KINGS, which got outsized advances.

Question for Dede Cummings: Does designing books for major publications versus independent publications vary drastically? Do you feel more in control of the artistic direction, or more able to work with the writer, when designing a book through an independent publication? Do corporate publishing houses impose stricter limitations and guidelines, or is there a broader scope in which to operate with the benefit of stronger financial backing?

Designing books for major publications and smaller ones does differ, but not dramatically. Major houses, like Random House, have superb sales teams that really dictate the cover design choice. I have always liked doing interior design for the freedom it allowed me. I can interpret and synthesize the author’s work without a sales team breathing down my neck. Smaller presses are often distributed by a larger publisher; for example, Random House publishing services distributes Shambhala, one of my clients. People don’t realize that the larger distributors have their own sales team, and they also dictate a lot of cover designs and book titles. A real indie press, like Green Writers Press (my own), offer a degree of author control and cooperation not found with the bigger houses, or secondary publishing houses. With that autonomy offered by a truly independent press comes a lack of financial advance and broad marketing for a new book. A large advance has to be paid back to the publisher before the author can get royalties—often the author will not receive royalties unless the book is a huge seller. It is a personal decision with whether to go large or small—financially, it makes sense to get the large advance and sacrifice the autonomy of design and control. However, some writers want to control the project and the birth of their book is more important than the money. A good balance is a writer working with the editor and the marketing/PR team at the publishing house in collaboration. The marketing/distribution sales team knows the business very well, and should be respected for that. It is a very delicate line, a balance. If more than one book offer is on the table, it is a good idea for agent and writer to meet with the editor, and really sit down to discuss how the book will be produced, and more importantly, sold.

Small presses, generally, do not have money for five- and six-figure advances. They just don’t have the capital for this. A nice advance from a small publisher is somewhere around $15,000. The larger houses can offer six figures if they really want something, and they still do that, though not so much as in the past. I recently negotiated a deal for $35,000 and we were very pleased. Another thing, the payments for the advance come in increments not in one lump sum.

Agents receive 15% of the authors advance, royalties, and other rights, like foreign rights and film rights and sales on the secondary market. Some writers offer a 20% royalty to motivate the agent to make a sale. Sub-agents on secondary sales usually earn 5%.

Q for DC: How do you see digital publishing influencing both small and large publishing
houses?

DC: Big time! Go digital, but respect print, too. Digital isn’t growing like it was initially. A lot of people want to relax with print, not a screen.

Q for DC: What advice do you have for getting short stories published?

DC: As with poetry, Jan said read the acknowledgements pages: write down the journals and look them all up. Start small and build up.

Click here to download the podcast of the panel discussion.

How Many Literary Journals Does The World Need?

litjournalsAt least one more. Since BWW members indicated in the BWW 2014 Survey that we’d like to create one, it’s probably wise to think about the benefits of and reasons for doing so. Here are the top four reasons (there are more, of course, but I’ll keep this short).

Experience. What’s it like to put a literary journal together? What can we learn from the submissions we receive, even if we don’t print them? How can we make use of and improve our editing and graphic design skills? This is a learning opportunity for any writer in Vermont. Isn’t that exciting?

There’s lots of great literature out there looking for a home. I’ve heard of some literary journals receiving hundreds of submissions every month. Clearly not every story/essay/poem can find an audience in the existing stock of journals. This new project will expose more readers to new/different writers.

It’s fun. Maybe this is just a bit of geeking out on my part, but I think this kind of thing is enjoyable.

We’re special. Many print literary journals are attached to universities or small presses. We’re not. Anyone can join this workshop. Thus, anyone can be involved in some aspect of its creation and promotion.

Of course, there is the question of money, so here’s the deal: We need 25 workshop members to set up monthly dues by clicking here. Monthly optional dues are $12/month.

Anyone can make monthly donations or one-time contributions of any amount by clicking here.

Making automatic monthly contributions is better, and here’s why: smaller donations over time will be easier to manage. Also, fundraising research shows that giving monthly ensures continued support. If we want 2015 to be similar to 2014, giving monthly is the way to go.

Of course, giving once helps a lot, too!

Once BWW member funding reaches the 25 contributor mark, I’ll begin looking for corporate support/grant funding for this. Anyone who makes automatic monthly contributions of $12/month or more gets a copy of the journal we print and The Best of the Burlington Writers Workshop 2014, which is coming out in April.

Once we’ve got the funding for this in place, we’ll start to talk about the second priority on our list: finding a permanent location for the BWW Writing Center. But that’s for another day.

Questions? Contact me.

Publishing Your Work: Debrief and Podcast

From Left to Right: Peter Biello, Jon Clinch, Dede Cummings, Jessica Swift Eldridge, and Jan Elizabeth Watson.

From Left to Right: Peter Biello, Jon Clinch, Dede Cummings, Jessica Swift Eldridge, and Jan Elizabeth Watson.

Last Saturday’s panel discussion on publishing was a huge success. Authors Jon Clinch and Jan Elizabeth Watson, agent and publisher Dede Cummings, and editor Jessica Swift Eldridge gave fantastic advice to writers.

“I’ve attended others like this through my MFA program and at the AWP conference, but the one on Saturday was by far the best,” said Annemarie Lavalette, who studies at Goddard.

“Excellent choice of panelists,” said Cardy Raper. “I found my head nodding at much of which they had to say.”

In the podcast, you’ll hear every word that caused such head-nodding. Each panelist shared the story of her/his journey to publication, or the stories of some clients. You’ll also hear some helpful nuggets of information on finding, keeping, and firing agents; what not to say when querying publishers; and why you absolutely must keep trying to get your work out there.

Here’s the podcast for your listening pleasure.

You may also want to subscribe to our podcast on iTunes. Just open iTunes and search for “Burlington Writers Workshop.”

We had more questions than we could answer in a reasonable amount of time. Fortunately the panelists agreed to respond to all your questions, so I’ll send them questions soon and post their responses when they’re all available.

Thanks to VPR for providing space for this and Hotel Vermont for providing some rooms for folks traveling from far away.

We’re also taking suggestions on what our next panel discussion should cover. What’s your idea? Send it to us here.

Publishing Your Work: How, When, Why?

How do you know when your work is ready for publication? And, if it’s ready, how do you go about publishing it? When is the right time for you? And perhaps most importantly, with a continually shrinking pool of potential readers, why bother publishing at all?

These are some of the many questions facing writers today. To help you answer them, we’ve assembled a diverse panel of folks with experience and insight. Join us on Saturday, November 16th at 5:30 at this location for a look at the publishing world and various ways to (and reasons why you should) launch your work into the world.

We’ve got an impressive line-up of presenters. In alphabetical order, they are:

jonclinchJon Clinch: Born and raised in the remote heart of upstate New York, Jon Clinch has been an English teacher, a metalworker, a folksinger, an illustrator, a typeface designer, a housepainter, a copywriter, and an advertising executive. His first novel, Finn—the secret history of Huckleberry Finn’s father—was named an American Library Association Notable Book and was chosen as one of the year’s best by the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and the Christian Science Monitor. His second novel, Kings of the Earth—a powerful tale of life, death, and family in rural America, based on a true story—was named a best book of the year by the Washington Post and led the 2010 Summer Reading List at O, The Oprah Magazine. In 2013 he surprised the publishing industry by releasing a new novel, The Thief of Auschwitz, on his own imprint. Jon lives with his wife, Wendy—founder of TheSkiDiva.com, the internet’s premier site for women who ski—in the Green Mountains of Vermont.

DedeThumbnailbyJeffWoodwardDede Cummings: Green Writers Press publisher and literary agent Dede Cummings went to Middlebury College back in the late 1970s.  In 1991, she received an award to study with Hayden Carruth at the Bennington Writers’ Workshop. Dede has had her poetry published in Mademoiselle magazine and ConnotationPress.com. She is at work on a collection of her poetry, along with her day job in publishing. Throughout the 1980s, Dede worked in publishing at Little, Brown & Company, rising to Senior Book Designer. When the company was bought by Time/Warner and moved to New York, Dede headed north with her husband and young son to return to Vermont and start freelancing as a designer. She has designed many award-winning books by such authors as Thomas Pynchon, Mary Oliver, William Shirer, Andre Dubus, and is a five-time winner of the new England Book Award, including 2 additional awards for “best in show” for Sorochintzy Fair by Nikolai Gogol, and World Alone/Mundo a Solas by Nobel Prize Winner, Vincente Alexandro. Dede is a public radio commentator for Vermont Public Radio, and she lives next to an apple orchard on a dirt road in West Brattleboro, Vermont with her family.

jessicaswifteldridgeJessica Swift Eldridge: Jessica earneda degree in English literature from Smith College and has been in the publishing industry for close to a decade. Working in-house for a publishing company, she spent her time absorbing all aspects of the traditional publishing world. When she left to branch out on her own, she was the managing editor of three imprints. In 2008, Swift Ink Editorial Services, was born. Since being self-employed, she has provided editorial services for clients—both nationally and internationally—whose manuscripts have gone on to become award-winning, bestselling books. You can follow her on Twitter @SwiftInkEditor.

jan_elizabeth_watson-300x239Jan Elizabeth Watson: Jan received her BFA from the University of Maine at Farmington and her MFA from Columbia University. She has taught college writing throughout Maine. Her critically acclaimed first novel, Asta in the Wings, was published in 2009. Her second novel, What Has Become of You, will be published worldwide by Dutton in the spring of 2014.

To help compensate the authors for their time and cover the cost of the food and beverages, we’ll ask for a $10 donation. All BWW events are free and there is no requirement to donate, so no pressure. Come and enjoy yourself, learn something about the publishing world, ask questions, and maybe even pick up a book by one of the authors. See you then!