I spent this last weekend in Colorado Springs at the Superstars Writing Seminar, put on by Kevin J Anderson and his lovely wife, Rebecca Moesta. I met the pair at Dragon*Con in Atlanta, where I was involved in a writing workshop prior to the regular convention programs. During their presentation they pitched the seminar, intended for people who already know how to write, but in need of some training in the business aspects of being a writer. At the time I really had no intention of attending this year. In correspondence Kevin again suggested the seminar, and I decided to take a chance and fly out to Colorado (after having not been on a commercial airplane for over 22 years). It was one of the best choices I could have made in my third year as a self-published author.
Most people have heard of Kevin J Anderson, maybe the most prolific science fiction and fantasy writer of modern times. He and his wife, both writers, editors and publishers, live in the area, and have made the seminar, which used to be a traveling road show, into a home based operation. They do a wonderful job of paying it forward to starting writers. The program of the seminar was set over three eight hour days, and covered many aspects of the business of writing, from productivity to pricing to motivation. There were bestselling authors, editors, an agent, and the marketing director of Kobo. I sat on one panel, dealing with Indie authors, my first ever. Let me just say I ate it up, and can’t wait to sit on more.
One of the highlights of the seminar was the Drawing Out the Dragons presentation by Author/Artist James Owen, in which he told the story of his trials and tribulations in becoming a success in the business, as well as driving forth the message that we make our own choices. Kevin gave a presentation of increasing productivity, while Eric Flint taught us the ins and outs of publishing contracts. At other times I was able to talk with many of the faculty. Lunch with Rebecca and Scott Boone, a trip to the Garden of the Gods with Kevin (almost my undoing), speaking with David Farland at the mixer, an hour in a chair after the first day talking with James Owen, the Friday night dinner sitting with Eric Flint (more on that in a future blog), and several conversations with Mark Lefebre of Kobo. There were many opportunities for networking and friend building despite the busy schedule. Author Brandon Sanderson also attended on Saturday, but was not really there long enough for me to get any personal time. I found, just as I had at Dragon*Con, that most of these famous authors were first and foremost very good people, willing to take the time to give advice to the newby.
There was a lot of information. Not overwhelming, but a great deal to digest. I know it will help me in my endeavors to keep building a fan base and a career. But to me the best part of the seminar was networking. Talking with Kevin, James and Mark. Lunch with Rebecca and Scott Boone, the attorney who presented on Copyright and Trademark. Dinner with Eric Flint, during which I learned a great deal about Baen Books as a company to work for. But to this writer, the best part was talking with other writers who had the same dream. Presenting the synopsis of one of my books, then listening to their really cool idea in return. People who got it. I made a lot of new friends, and am looking forward to seeing them gain success in the future.
I enjoyed the seminar so much I signed up for next year’s event on Saturday night. It may have some of the same presentations, but, with the rapid changes ongoing in publishing, there are sure to be new gems. And it will be a chance again to network, to reacquaint with friends while making new ones. Is this seminar for everyone? Not really. I wouldn’t recommend it for someone who is just dabbling around with a story here or there, with no real commitment to becoming a professional. For the person with the desire to go to the next level, I can’t think of a better investment. If you’re serious about your career, maybe I’ll see you there.