AWP DAY 1: Bookfair Mania, Alternative Routes to Publishing, & Annie Proulx's Why Writer's Write

Buffy McKay, Martha Amore, and Vered Mares at the Cirque Booth, AWP
the end of day one at AWP and I’m enjoying a delicious glass of Cabernet in the
lobby, trying to figure out how I’m going to intelligently discuss the
conference. To just tell you that the Cab is delicious is simply a “direct
abstract statement”, which is a fancy way to say telling versus showing. I
learned that in Creating Emotional Depth: Tools and Inspiration from Various
Genres. It’s often the least effective method of conveying emotion, but it does
have its place. I’ll also tell you this: I’m exhausted, happy, and

only attended two sessions Thursday, mainly because of the book fair. Rows upon
rows of exhibits, small presses, larger presses, MFA programs, books piled high.
I’d barely walk past one display when another beckoned, freebie pens, candy,
bookmarks, flyers, even a haiku poem written just for me. (It’s got a cuss word
in it so I’m not gonna repeat it here.)

Your Foot in The Door, Alternatives to Traditional Children’s Book Contracts
was a practical panel discussion on the many alternative routes to working and
getting published as a writer. There are several sessions at this
conference about getting your work published in both new and traditional forms,
but it’s not often that you hear practical advice on the different ways that
you can actually be employed writing. Each of the authors on the panel has
published traditional print books, and several got their start through
alternative channels.

Diaz discussed writing books on commission, a popular format for serialized
children’s fiction wherein a book packager will create an outline of their idea
that includes characters, setting, and a plot structure and then hires a writer
to flesh it all out into a book. This type of writing may be frowned upon as
hack work, but Diaz says that it helped to fill in the gaps and she did have the flexibility to be creative with the story and add her own ideas. Another panel member, Kekla Magoon, got her start as a writer
working for school and library publication companies producing nonfiction middle
school texts. She joined the Editorial Freelancers Association to get job
postings. Eventually she moved out of that work, published her own novels and
even works as a ghostwriter. Children’s writer and former teacher Mindy
Hardwick discussed the ins and outs of Digital Publishing an e-book. Digital
publishing can be a successful format for genre novels and series, first time
authors, books with a small audience, and novellas. She recommends asking
yourself the following questions: 1. What is the right way to publish this
story? 2. How will this path help your career right now? 3. Who is your
audience and where are they? And 4. What is your goal for your story?

the writers on the panel recommend having writing samples ready to submit,
published or not. In some cases, samples were so good, publishers asked for
whole stories which led to independent book deals.

Proulx delivered her keynote speech last night. She began with the basic
question of why do writers write? Her written speech started with the very beginnings
of writing, simple lists or marks made as inventory for goods at a market, and
then progressed through the ages from the printing press to today’s e-book
revolution. She recounted many writers and their works, reminded us not to sell
out to capitalist interests, pointed out the irony that while American readers
were in decline, the number of writers seemed to be increasing, and provided no
easy answers. At one point she checked the time and attempted to shorten
her speech but the crowd implored her to go on.

will be Alaskans at AWP day for me, with several events featuring writers from
the north.

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