(Number 1 of 3 posts in response to attending the Creative Nonfiction writing conference in Pittsburgh, PA, May 23-25, 2014)
Well, here I am in a hotel room in Pittsburgh trying to process all the information I received today at the Creative Nonfiction Conference. After a 9-hour drive yesterday and 5 hours of informational input today, my brain was ready for a nap!
Questions arose, but being the introvert I am, I needed time to think through it all. During a break two editors/presenters were standing right next to me and I couldn’t even think of what it was I needed to know. Duh.
But, after some processing time (and some scrummy Indian curry), I can share my main take-aways from today (some of which is surmised and not necessarily exactly what was said), and again, I will only discuss traditional publishing (but I will say that the info I heard today has confirmed my intuition that I should go the traditional route):
1. Submit to literary journals and magazines (print and online) to:
a) practice your craft
b) gain readership and develop a writing resume
c) develop relationships with editors (especially those of small presses who will, in general, work closely with you and offer encouragement, guidance, and “membership” in a community of writers.
Note: Essays/short stories can be published first and still possibly be included in a full-length work at a later date. Inclusion in an anthology is also an option.
2. “Creative Nonfiction is where it’s at!” — Lee Gutkind. BUT the subject of the nonfiction is most important.
What is it ABOUT? It can’t be just about you. No matter the brilliance of the writing, if the subject isn’t going to appeal/resonate with an audience (or editor/agent first), it will not get published.
3. Having an agent or not depends on your goals
It is imperative to have an agent if trying for a big press (and always have them negotiate the finances), not necessary if choosing a small/independent press. (But maoke sure you interview the editor to determine that the relationship and amount of promotion they will do will work for you.)
5. Develop your platform and brand through:
a) your own blog or submitting to other blogging sites (Huffpost, etc.)
b) Twitter — tweet other (good) writers’ work, there is a reciprocity that occurs online
c) online writing communities, and other outlets such as Goodreads, Buzzfeed, Medium, etc.
Editors notice this visibility.
But — and I’m pretty sure I mentioned this before — above all: YOUR PASSION IS YOUR BRAND AND PLATFORM!