At the end of November I attended WriteCon in Zurich. It’s an informal conference that happens every year in Zurich which allows writers to connect and provides a number of workshops throughout the day. I’ve been meaning to attend for at least the last two years but something has always cropped up so I haven’t been able to go. I was determined to go this year.
And go I did! The first workshop that I attended was led by Jason Donald, who has published two novels and is now working in screen writing. The aim of the workshop was how to edit your work and freshen up pieces in your second draft. The ticket price was worth it for this workshop alone. I learnt a lot of new things and interesting ways to look at things I have written in a new light. I wanted to rush straight home and look at what I had written the day before with a red pen in my hand to amend parts that I had been struggling with.
The advice was so practical and completely made sense to me. I also gained confidence from talking to Jason about the feeling that I have that my writing doesn’t ‘fit’ into a specific genre and about how I have started writing a book but have abandoned it to write a collection of short stories. He had exactly the same feelings and his first book started off as a collection of short stories which he eventually wrote together when he realised that there was an underlying theme to all of the stories. Perhaps I am on the right path after all…
After the lunch break I went to a workshop called “Pathways to Publishing”. I anticipated this would be a general discussion about how to decide between self-publishing and a traditional publishing route and what the pros and cons of both was. It turned out it was mainly a discussion about traditional publishing. As I am not yet in a position to look for an agent or approach a publishing house directly, it wasn’t very relevant to me. Even so it was interesting because I learnt how little an author earns per book that is sold and I also learnt that authors get paid every time a book of theirs is taken out of a library (which helped my guilty conscious when I borrow books rather than buying them).
I was surprised how many people had a negative impression of novels that are self-published. Many famous authors self-published their work, like Virginia Woolf, Mark Twain and Stephen King. So long as the book is well-written I don’t see the problem with it. I think self-published novels get a bad press when they haven’t been edited properly and people have self-published just to say that they have had a book published. I am still trying to decide what I think is best to do but I need to write the book first!
All in all, I’m glad I went. I met some more writers and learnt some things that I have already been able to use in my writing processes. Hopefully, it won’t be too long before I have finished my collection of short stories and I can get on the pathway to publishing them.