September’s Third Thursday Wrap Up, Behind the Publishing House Curtain”

By Lexi Smith

September’s Third Thursday program took us “Behind the Publishing House Curtain” with two booksellers and a publicist. Gillian Redfearn is a Key Account Manager for MacMillian Publishing, Gianna La Morte is a Sales Manager at UT Press, and Colleen Devine Ellis is the Publicity Manager at UT Press.

What did we find behind the curtain? Not a new car or a man pretending to be a wizard. We found inspiration and advice to help your book along the yellow brick road to publication.

You probably won’t encounter flying monkeys or talking trees (unless you’re in Marfa with Gianna) as you work to get your book in print. But, you can learn from Dorothy and friends about what it takes to reach your destination. Put on your Oz-colored glasses as we distill the conversation with Gillian, Gianna and Colleen into four things you’ll need as you work towards publishing your book.

Brains – It obviously takes a certain amount of brain power to write a book. Then it takes more to rewrite your book. Additionally, you have to figure out how to navigate all the different components of becoming (and being!) a published author. Avail yourself to the rich resources available in the Austin writing community. For example, tonight’s panel was an excellent opportunity to access professionals in the book industry and learn from their experiences.

Heart – Don’t give up on your dream of writing. Books mentioned tonight took from 3-10 years to write. Your book may take more or less time. Then you’re off to find a publisher. Once accepted for publication, it can take from 18 months to 2 years to publish. Becoming a published writer is not for the faint of heart.

Courage – Do you want your book to sell? If so, marketing your book will become a part-time job. Technology can make it easier than it used to be, but it can still be a daunting task. Though social media options (blogging, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) may overwhelm you, don’t be afraid to try them.

Need help? For inspiration, check out Liz and Gianna’s Adventures in Bookland blog. For instruction, sign-up for the ongoing Tuesday Night Tech Talks at the WLT and learn the nuts and bolts of technology for authors. You can also join us on Thursday, October 20th for “An Author’s Guide to PR & Marketing.”

Our panel also encouraged us to be bold, without being a jerk, in asking for things from your publicist, agent or editor. Let them know your expectations. You may not get what you want, but you can ask.

Friends – The Munchkins, Glenda, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman and the Cowardly Lion all helped Dorothy get to the Wizard. Likewise, you’ll need a team of people to help with your book. Family, friends, critique groups, editors, agents, book sellers and publicists can all help. Again, the WLT can help with many of these connections.

When Dorothy woke from her Technicolor dream, she found her ordinary world filled with people who loved her. As dreams of publishing your book are challenged by the stark reality of what that takes, remember that your friends, brains, heart and courage can help you reach your Emerald City.

Resources Mentioned

Self-Publishing Options

CreateSpace.com is part of Amazon.com.

Classes, Conferences and Workshops

October 8, AustinSCBWI, “Storytelling in the Digital Age”

November 12th, AustinSCBWI, “Write What You Think You Can’t”

Ongoing – “Silver Voices in Ink” from Badgerdog.org – Writing course for senior citizens with ongoing classes around Austin.

Writers’ League Agents Conference

Lexie Smith is a WLT member who enjoys connecting people with information through LexicalLight.com, BloggingForWriters.com and 64mascots.com. A University of Texas graduate, she taught middle school English and, until recently, homeschooled her children. She lives in Round Rock with her husband, five kids and two rescued Boxers.

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