Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta enlightened participants and alumni of Jody Lynn Nye‘s Writer’s Intensive Workshop, discussing craft and publishing on Friday afternoon. Authors, publishers, editors, motivators, Anderson and Moesta run WordFire Press and have produced the Superstars writing seminars.
The dynamic duo began with the progression from casual to professional writing. Anderson said that writing short stories used to be the thing to do, then the writer would get an agent (or be approached by one) and a publishing contract. But this paradigm seldom works in today’s market and people now must find what you write.
Moesta recommended building a platform, including options of blogs, publicity, and charity work with blurb opportunities. She asked, do you have a group of people you regularly communicate with? Turn it into a platform. They cautioned against taking on a public political persona and stated that you should build your reputation as a writer and keep politics off social media pages. Blogs also may not help, although they work for some. Although Anderson likes Facebook, he compared it to writing a mini blog. If you write, he said, you should get paid.
Anderson discussed attending conventions, as he is doing now, and noted that was how both Jim Butcher and Sherrilyn Kenyon started. Kenyon, who has had 28 New York Times bestsellers, has been an incredible friend to Dragon Con.
Noting that the regular progression from newbie to published author has now all changed, they advised networking with other authors as a source of possible anthology invites. They also suggested building a cohort of supporters as a base for future core fans.
Anderson said that he was not sure if he still recommended getting an agent as Baen and many other publishers take slush (unsolicited manuscripts). He suggested to approach editors at cons. This can earn brownie points when you submit assuming you act appropriately (and bathe regularly). Even with this advantage, however, it can still take years to get published. But getting into even a smaller pile may help to reduce the wait until making print.
Anderson agreed with Nye that you should write your next book while waiting, but not write the next book in a series until you have sold the first book as you may be wasting time. instead, write something totally different.
In response to a question about using different pen names. Anderson said it can work, but Moesta warned, don’t expect your identity to remain secret. If you have a thousand dedicated fans who will buy your book, that is enough to put you on the radar and be successful. Remember, you are building a brand. But, change your name if your last book tanked. Anderson added regarding his genre adventures that he has been regenerated so many times, “I’m basically Doctor Who as a writer.”
They singled out Nye as WordFire Press’s best-selling author and discussed their start in publishing author backlists, first their own books that had gone out of print and then the backlists of other authors who came to them. Their top sellers are the works of Frank Herbert (Dune) and Allen Drury (Advise and Consent).