Write to the Top!

Packed with agent pitches, workshops, speakers, critique feedback, panels, networking opportunities, and an abundance of add-ons, the sold out 23rd annual Writers’ Institute at UW-Madison was educational, inspirational, and just plain fun!

Between concurrent sessions and speaking myself, I had windows of opportunity to attend a few sessions. Here are two nuggets of gold from each session I attended:

The Writer’s LifeJohn Vorhaus
“Practice makes perfect progress.”
“As a writer, our job is to close the gap between where the work is, and where it needs to be.”

Agent Panel – John Bolger, Joelle Delbourgo, Linda Konner, Laurie McClean, Andy Ross, and Gordon Warnock
“Literary agents manage people’s expectations—you have to be realistic.”

Ask a literary agent who has expressed interest in you:
Who are your favorite clients?
What are the last three books you sold?
What impressed you about my writing?
How invested are you going to be in my literary growth?

The Play is the ThingBrendan Sullivan
We respond to ideas in two ways:
“Yes, but” is negative and down pulling
“Yes, and” is positive and uplifting

“The most creative people on the planet are children between the ages of 3-7. They ask ‘Why?’ all the time. Get back to asking why.”

Anatomy of a Book TrailerSusan Reetz
Similar to a movie preview, a book trailer is a 30-second to 3-minute video teaser for a book. It’s designed to generate buzz and interest. It can also be used to promote your work to agents and publishers.

A book trailer is a marketing tool you promote on your website, YouTube, Vimeo, Goodreads, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn—everywhere!

The Writer’s Magical Publicity Tour Brian Christian and Jim Pappandrea
Once you’re book is published—Congratulations!—you’re now on the marketing team of your publisher.

“My antidote to nerves is preparation. Know your topic.” – Jim Pappandrea
“Think about nerves as energy, harness it and put it to good use.” – Brian Christian

Secrets of Famous Prolific WritersAngela Voras-Hills
“You will never find the time to write. You have to make the time to write.”
“A schedule helps you [and your friends and family] take your writing seriously.”

Creative Bypasses & Detours for Better DrivingBrendan Sullivan
“Inspiration is a matter of observation.”
“There’s more than one right answer, but there’s only one best answer. To find it you have to look at them all.

Publishing in the Post-Paper WorldJohn Vorhaus
“The publishing world as we’ve known it is changing. We can no longer count on publishers to distribute, market, and promote our work. These responsibilities now fall squarely in the writer’s lap.”

“We are digital immigrants. Our children are digital natives.”

Whether you’re an aspiring or seasoned writer, I hope you’ll consider attending next year’s Writers’ Institute at UW-Madison. You can join their mailing list here.

Not just for writers—when was the last time you showed your creative work to someone else?

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
— Laurie Buchanan

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© 2012 Laurie Buchanan– All Rights Reserved

54 thoughts on “Write to the Top!

  1. Hi,
    Wow, looks and sounds like a fantastic time was had by all, it certainly looked packed, I couldn’t imagine getting up in front of all those people and speaking. 🙂

    I thought “We are digital immigrants. Our children are digital natives.” by John Vorhaus was very clever and very true.

    I also liked “Think about nerves as energy, harness it and put it to good use.” – Brian Christian
    Both very good quotes.

  2. It looks like it was an amazing conference. I had an image of you writing down these wonderful quotes to share with us. I want to remember the “Yes, and” possibility. It’s so much sweeter than the “Yes, but”. Thank you, Laurie. Couldn’t wait to hear some of your experiences.

  3. I’m saving this post! Very helpful in my writing and my quest to find the ‘right’ agent for my book – The Right Man. Thank you for sharing what you learned at the writing conference. Wonderful!

    • Roughwighting1 – In an effort to help writers just like you — people who are looking for a literary agent — I put links to each of the agents right in the body of the post. If you find one that is looking for your genre, follow their submission guidelines and send your manuscript.

      • Oh, so glad you mentioned this. Loved looking at the agents’ websites. I’ve met three of them at the Women’s National Book Association “meet the agents’ in San Francisco. These agents work hard! Thanks much.

  4. Hi Laurie! This post is jam-packed with yummy, rich thoughts/quotes to spread on journal’s toast this morning! LOVE it! Thank you for sharing – and for suggesting others attend this conference. Haven’t been to one in years. They are definitely super-charging!
    Hugs,
    SuZen

  5. Hello to all my new BFFs from the Writers Institute. Remember, if I can be of further service to you, my doors — and facebook page and twitter feed — are always open. -jv

    • John – Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. You were directly responsible for most of my laughter at the Writers’ Institute this year. Stellar presentations – thank you!

  6. Laurie, Thank you for the extremely detail summary of your experience at the Writer’s Institute. I appreciated all the time you took to share the programs and links to the presenters. You synopsis and comments offered so helpful “aha’s”! I loved your pre-workshop messages and am delighted to know you found your experience most worthwhile. However, I am missing the information about your panel participation. I hope you will be sharing that information soon. Your post brought back many lovely memories of my years at the Writer’s Institute. I enjoyed sharing your visit to the Conference, Madison, Lake Mendota, the Lowell Center and writers’ programs! I am sure Paden Plume is eager to apply all the “Green Brain Knowledge” you acquired at the Institute. Hurrah!

  7. Sounds like you did indeed enjoy yourself Laurie. Thank you for this “pot of gold” post. . . lots of GREAT opportunity to investigate your wealth of literary treasure!!

  8. I can tell you truly had an amazing time at this conference and I thank you profusely for sharing the tidbits your gleaned.

    Yes I think everyone has to sell whatever they are doing these days themselves….I learned that from the book review – THE ART OF THE SALE

    • Patricia – Regardless if an author is traditionally published or Indy published (independent/self-published), if an author doesn’t promote him/herself, the sales will remain with pretty much family and friends.

  9. It sounds like your weekend was filled with insights and helpful tips. Thank you so much for sharing what you learned with the rest of us!

  10. Laurie — it sounds as if you had an absolutely splendiferous time. Without a doubt, there are a few people who wrote down your words of wisdom and are now sharing them with their friends back home. I love the treasure trove of inspiration you brought back with you. Now, to answer the question you asked, I am now a part of a team of writers who will be writing blog entries for Loyola University. As soon as one of mine appears, I will let you know!

  11. Thanks for sharing, Laurie! I didn’t have a chance to go to as many panels as I’d have liked– this is a nice sampling of what I missed!

  12. Pingback: You Get More than You Give | Spiritual Blueprint: The Blog

  13. Ah what a time you have capture Laurie. I think it is so true in many areas about representing our own creative works – it is becoming more and more a direct world between the those creating and those wanting to experience these creations.

    • Terrill – “Direct world” is a great way to phrase it. And it’s made easier and easier with technology. You’re a perfect example. You showcase a piece of your artwork on your blog and it’s seen and purchased by someone on another continent. It’s mind boggling!

  14. Laurie, you are a Light unto our feet, I would have never known to ask those questions, or what to expect from the answers! I will definitly file this one away in the off chance that some should ever inquire. As it is, I do live by my creative wits, only using a differnt medium, pottery and plants, cut flowers and silk flower keep my creative pot on the hob with out boiling over. Thanks for such useful information!

  15. Oh my I am running as fast as I can to catch up! Even blogs don’t stand still!

    There is some wondrous advise here from the pro’s that you for sharing such words of wisdom.
    “Inspiration is a matter of observation.”
    Many of these can be use to shine light as a creative tool!

    I am glad that you had a wondrous time!

    • Jeff – The quote that you highlighted (inspiration is a matter of observation) resonated with me too. As a matter of act, while in Madison I browsed in a metaphysical-type store named Shakti. While there, I found a lovely Celtic type pendant which I purchased. It has three intertwined knots that made me think: OBSERVATION sparks INSPIRATION, and inspiration sparks CREATIVITY.

  16. Vorhaus was spectacular! A healer once taught me that only practice WITH FEEDBACK makes perfect. (If I teach myself the cello without a skillful mentor to guide me to improve, chances are I will never sound like YoYoMa.)

    So wonderful to meet you, too, Laurie, and to be inspired by your blogging success! 🙂

    • Daria – So good to see you here at Speaking from the Heart. Thank you for leaving a comment. It was a pleasure to meet you at the Writers’ Institute. I love what you shared about “Practice WITH FEEDBACK makes perfect. Excellent point!

  17. Laurie, I’m sure you have already pulled out your yellow-covered notebook (the one you keep in the top drawer by your living room night table) and listed this in the chapter section devoted to ‘the most memorable professional experiences of my life” and rightly so. I remember last year’s conference yielded similarly enriching results, but it just seems that this year they all have gone one better. I love all those applicable quotes especially the one from John Vorhaus that address “Publishing in the post-paper world.” This makes good writing that much more difficult to negotiate, and it establishes a fine line that can and will only be crossed by those on a mission.

    • Sam – “This makes good writing that much more difficult to negotiate…” You’re right! I wish you could have actually seen/heard John Vorhaus’ presentation – and while the delivery was very funny, the topics definitely struck deep chords.

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