Sleuthfest: Part 5
Charlaine Harris began her keynote speech by giving an entertaining description of her typical day and all the requests she fields. She discussed how her writing schedule has changed and how the publishing industry has altered in the past ten years. It’s a challenge to agents and publishers as contract negotiations have changed forever. The traditional model may be going the way of the dinosaurs. The difference between traditionally published books in the bookstore and self-published e-books is editing. And to conclude, “All books benefit from editing.”
Indie editors are on the rise. Some are professional; others take advantage of newbie authors. So while e-books are here to stay, they bring along a lot of baggage. Regarding TV/film sales: Be prepared to concede certain rights or walk away from the deal. Charlaine says that when people meet an author, right away they demand to know if you’ve sold to TV or the movies. Writers are in the entertainment industry. We want to deliver our books to readers anyway we can, even if it’s an e-book carried in your purse. Her advice to aspiring authors: “Read, read, read. Put your butt in the chair and write.”
Does Your Muse Need A Makeover?
Lisa Unger, Peter Abrahams, and Julie Kramer, with Elaine Viets moderating.
Lisa began by stating how her first publisher turned down her option book, but she was lucky that another publishing house picked it up. Peter reinvented himself as a YA author. And then he wrote a first-person story from a dog’s viewpoint. His agent suggested he take on a pen name when he started writing with broader humor within the crime fiction genre. Julie’s work got darker over time. She’d already been orphaned by her first publisher. Afraid her current publisher was about to cancel the series, she killed off a significant character. It shook the series up. Peter advises authors to “Have the story come out of you rather than following the latest trend. Find that unique part of you and blow it up.” Lisa says, “Have respect for your own voice.” And Julie wished that she’d changed from journalism to writing fiction a lot sooner.
We discussed how we keep our characters real in the midst of absurdity, like dead bodies popping up everywhere in amateur sleuth stories. We talked about the daily news as a source of tales stranger than fiction, and how we might use humor to involve our sleuth in “over the top” situations or as a behavior to mask uncertainty. Grounding the stories are the sleuth’s personal relationships.
Saturday evening, we enjoyed the Sleuthfest cocktail party with appetizing hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar. This gave attendees the opportunity to mingle with editors and agents in a social setting. Following was bestselling author Heather Graham’s dinner party at Disney’s House of Blues. The food was amazing and the entertainment—with Heather as vocalist and MWA members in the band—was lively. People danced and chatted and it was great fun. Many thanks to Heather for her generosity in sponsoring this event!
Michael Meeske, Kathleen Pickering, Nancy Cohen, Traci Hall
You can view my Sleuthfest 2012 Photo Album on my Facebook Author Page. Please “Like” the page while you’re there!
Sunday morning wrap sessions and a discussion with the keynote speakers ended the conference, but I skipped out to go to the Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City.
Coming Tuesday: Guest Blogger and Mystery Author Camille Minichino