I'm here at the 5th annual Midwest Writer's Festival and have had an incredible opportunity to be up close and personal with some amazing writers; some first time novelists and some with multiple titles to their name.
As I looked at the list of authors planning to attend a few names popped out that I wanted to be sure and meet. One of those writers was Daniel Wallace who might be best known for his book turned into a movie, the Big Fish. His newest novel is entitled Mr. Sebastian and the Negro Magician.
I had the opportunity to spend a little time with Daniel following the author dinner and found him to be charming, personable, a loving family man and very gracious. In fact, all of the authors were accessible and enjoyed answering questions and encouraging those of us writer-wannabees in our craft.
One consistent message communicated throughout the conference was the idea that being a writer of fiction (or non-fiction for that matter) requires the ability to think like a business person. You can't just sit with your laptop or pen and pad and be creative, you have to think about the economics of your masterpiece and pre-plan your marketing efforts even before pitching your book idea to an agent.
You have to be prepared to clearly define your audience and describe how you intend to entice them to purchase your product. You have to be prepared to describe the perfect marketing plan and come prepared to actively participate in the marketing efforts. You have to prepared to describe what your NEXT book will be.
You even need a tag line that describes your brand.
For some reason I thought that writing the Great American Novel was more about plot lines and character development and yet it sounds to me just like the same exercise as owning your own business.
If you start out as a romance writer – jumping ship to write a thriller is too much of a reach for your audience and could be doomed to fail.
Hearing these lessons from over 30 authors throughout the day helped me modify my pitch as I prepared to pitch two book ideas to a panel of agents yesterday afternoon.
The result? Great advice, encouraging comments, laughter in all the right places and a list of next step items a mile long.
It's been an incredible adventure. Oh, and just in case you wondered…Daniel's new book Mr. Sebastian and the Negro, is a page turner!
Deborah Chaddock Brown