Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Top 10 Takeaway Quotes From Superstars Writing Seminars 2013

Last week I had the great fortune of attending the 2013 Superstars Writing Seminars in Colorado Springs as a guest speaker.

With a core faculty of bestselling authors such as Kevin J. Anderson, Rebecca Moesta, Eric Flint, David Farland and Brandon Sanderson, the annual seminar series also brings in guest instructors such as Tracy Hickman, Joan Johnston, James A. Owen and Jim Minz.  The three days of sessions are meant to be a one-stop shop for creating a successful business plan in the commercial fiction industry and the ideal place to hone your existing knowledge base, or begin a brand new trajectory in your writing career.

Closing Q&A Panel Session: Mark Leslie, Kevin J. Anderson, Rebecca Moesta, James A. Owen, Eric Flint, Tracy Hickman

I was there to share a bit of insight with the writers about Kobo, Kobo Writing Life, eBooks, DIY, digital and self-publishing. So in a sense, I was there to teach. But the huge benefit, besides meeting so many wonderful and talented writers, was that I was able to absorb some great information from some of the world's best writers in science-fiction, fantasy, horror, thrillers and romance.

Thus, I present, from the notes I jotted during sessions I watched as well as ones I participated in, my top ten takeaways from Superstars Writing Seminars. Rather than dig into the details of each of the quotes below, I'll do my best to leave my own interpretation and how these apply to me as a writer out of it (since I'm sure everyone will get something personal out of each - ie, interpret each into something useful for their own unique purposes)

Mark Leslie Lefebvre (hey, that's ME), talking about eBooks, Indy Publishing & Kobo Writing Life

1) "Every book cover is a small billboard." Jim Minz (Senior Editor at Baen Books) channeling Tom Doherty with respect to an author's branding presence.

2) "The integrity of the story comes first. Egos come second." Tracy Hickman in reference to the process of editing and re-writing when collaborating with another writer.

3) "Sure, I can do that." Kevin J. Anderson's answer to accepting the right opportunities that led to his diverse and wide experience in writing that went behind his universes that he had created (such as his X-Files, Star Wars, Dune, and Rush tie-in novels)

4) "It's about collaboration, not competition." Rebecca Moesta, talking about the importance of communities of writers supporting each other as allies, not in competition with one another.

5) "Never sacrifice the thing you want most for the thing you want most right now." James A. Owen discussing the importance of keeping your long term goals in mind and doing things deliberately.

6) "Writing is a creative performance where the experience takes place completely outside the creator." Tracy Hickman quoting his wife, author Laura Hickman.

7) "You need to view yourself as a professional, and act like one." Rebecca Moesta, referencing the importance of professional behavior in all of one's activities, whether it is in submitting your material to publishers or appearing at bookstores, conventions and conferences.

8) "As a rule, a new author's first novel will lose money for a publisher." Eric Flint outlining the business side of publishing and the split between how publishers divide their operating costs into three main buckets of writers:  Lead writers, mid-list writers and new writers.

9)  "The written word does not live unless it is read." Tracy Hickman, who, with James A. Owen, referenced Samuel Johnson's quote that a writer only begins a book; a reader finishes it.

10) "Use every minute." Kevin J. Anderson explaining that while writers might prefer large blocks of uninterrupted time for writing, that isn't always possible and a luxury that most people don't have. Thus, the discipline of taking advantage of every free moment to make progress, however small, on your in progress book project, is critical -- every sentence you compose is a sentence closer to finishing that writing project.

Moses Siregar III, Evan Braun, Mark Leslie, Jen Greyson, Melissa Douthit, Eric Kent Edstrom

It was tough to cut the things I learned at Superstars Writing Seminars down to 10 points -- because all three days were jam-packed with an incredible amount of valuable information and insightful inspiritation. so it's very likely I'll have to write another post focusing in on one or more additional aspects of the sessions that inspired me as a writer.

NOTE: Revising this post to add links to other great summaries of the Superstars Writing Seminars 2013

Terry Odell - Series of recap posts about SWS


Nathan Dodge said...

Mark, a great summary! You may or may not have noticed that I was sitting on the front row and typing madly over the entire three days. I ended up with over 30 pages of notes, most fairly cryptic, but containing ALL the points you mentioned, so clearly I agree with you!

Don't sell yourself short--you contributed a lot of good info and convined me to look at Kobo Writing Life for the first time.

Thanks for being there, and thanks for your observations. I will look to more in the future!

Nathan Dodge, SSWS veteran, 2012, 2013 (the guy on the left end [your left when on the podium] of the front row).

Nathan Dodge said...

See above

Mark Leslie said...

LOL - thanks, Nathan. I'm quite pleased to know you enjoying my contributions and are taking a look at Kobo Writing Life.

Also glad to see we were on the same page. And yes, I noticed your aggressive typing - just no idea you filled so many pages.

So much great information was shared; a well-invested 3 days.

Terry Odell said...

I was sitting in the back, also taking furious notes, many of which I'm sharing on my own blog posts. Thanks to Kobo's generosity, I was able to attend on a scholarship.

Coming from an entirely different fiction genre from most of the speakers/attendees, it was eye opening to see where we're "the same but different."

Terry's Place

Mark Leslie said...

Thanks, Terry. It was a pleasure to meet you. I thought I should also post a link to your great series of follow-ups on the Superstars Writing Seminars.