Mysteries, thrillls and chills . . . one story at a time.
Today was chock full of information. My mind is just spinning with ideas. The entire conference is divided into topics that cover writing craft, marketing and publishing. Last year, I attended mostly crafting workshops. This year, I have been attracted to workshops that offer information about the publishing industry. Kind of tells you where I am in the process, doesn’t it? So let’s get started.
The first workshop I attended this morning was “How to Write a Killer Synopsis“. This was a panel discussion of various agents. As the title suggests, they had intended to share information about their expectations for synopses but questions from the audience kept the discussion on the construction of query letters. The speakers gave the audience what they wanted.
The agents were in agreement that a query letter should be written in such a way to make them want to read your book. It should read and entice, sort of like the back jacket blurb. In one to two paragraphs, provide the story arc of novel. It should include the word count, target market audience, genre and be no more than one and a half pages. Consider writing in third person, present tense.
Ultimately, the query letter is a business document. You should consider it in the same vein as an application for a job. It should be professional and business like. Save the creativity for the synopsis and manuscript.
They also offered up a few Don’ts:
I next attended “Surveillance: Who Has the Eyeball?” This was presented by private investigator, Sheila Stephens, who is also a former DEA agent (more here). She brought lots of toys and gadgets. She also explained the law, including state and federal regulations for using said toys.
This was a fun workshop and gave me lots of food for thought for things to include in my novel. But the most significant thing I took away was a heightened awareness of just how intrusive and subversive Big Brother has actually become.
The highlight of the day was the keynote speaker Jeffrey Deaver. During the first hour, he spoke generally about writing and catching the audience up on his very busy schedule.
Some interesting facts about Mr. Deaver:
Jeffrey Deaver was fascinating to listen to; he has a very business-like approach to his career, both in terms of his chosen genre, thrillers, and his approach to producing a 150,000 word publishable novel once a year. He told story using a wry wit, often with a deadpan delivery that kept the audience in stitches. But he was also deadly serious about writing and his passion for the craft and the business rang through clearly the entire time he spoke. As I watched him patiently sign books and speak a word to everyone who came up to him, I had an impression of kindness and an open gracious spirit. It was greatly at odds with the bloody ways he tends to dispatch people in his books. His latest book The Burning Wire hits the shelves at the end of the month.
The workshops ended with another panel discussion “A Publishing Odyssey – An Insider’s Look into the Future of Publishing.” This panel was made up of two writers, including Jeffrey Deaver, agents, editors/publishers, a representative of the National Writer’s Union, a book distributor and two booksellers, one independent, the other part of a national chain. They tracked the course and answered questions along the way about the journey a writer takes from initially approaching an agent for representation through getting a book onto the bookshelves. It gave an excellent overview of the process and hopefully helped to reset certain expectations, particularly, the role of the agent.
Well, that was it for the day. The conference wraps up tomorrow afternoon. The schedule promises to just as informative as today has been.
Tune in tomorrow for the recap.