Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Key Writer Publications & Organizations

Writers write, but they also read, and they also join groups. The three key publications for those who want to be published authors and know what’s happening in the book industry are these:

  • Publishers Weekly
  • The Writer
  • Writers Digest

Below are 16 professional organizations worth exploring, depending on the type of writing that you do:

Writers Guild of America-East

Writers Guild of America-West

National Writers Union

National Writers Association

The Authors Guild

Association of American Publishers

Bio Science Writers

American Screenwriters Association

American Crime Writers League

American Musical Writers Association

American Society of Journalists & Authors

PEN American Center

Society of American Business Editors and Writers

Freelancers Union

Education Writers Association

National League of American Pen Women

International Thriller Writers

Interview With Thrillerfest Executive Director Kimberley Howe 

1.      Kimberley, what is planned for the upcoming ThrillerFest? We have a variety of events under the ThrillerFest umbrella:

CraftFest is one of our most popular events as it offers a rare opportunity to learn the craft of writing from NYT bestselling authors.  Last year, Ken Follett taught a class called How Thrillers Work, and this year we have a stellar line-up of teachers including Lee Child, David Morrell, Catherine Coulter, Steve Berry, Michael Palmer, Gayle Lynds, Lisa Gardner, and many others.

AgentFest offers aspiring authors the opportunity to pitch top agents in a speed-dating format.  Last year, we had over 60 agents at the event, and eight authors signed with their dream agent as a result.  To read more success stories, please visit www.thrillerfest.com and click AgentFest and Success!

ThrillerFest kicks off Thursday evening with our Opening Cocktail Party.  Our special guests this year include 2012 ThrillerMaster Jack Higgins, 2011 ThrillerMaster R.L. Stine, Lee Child, Catherine Coulter, John Sandford, Ann Rule, Richard North Patterson, and Karin Slaughter. Along with our spotlight guests, we are also pleased to present former FBI agent and counterterrorism expert David Major who will be sharing his experiences from The White House.  Panels will cover everything from marketing to writing to personal tales from your favorite authors.

2.      How did the event get started originally? A small group of thriller authors started talking about the need for an organization—after all, writers lead solitary lives, and the opportunity for camaraderie was quite appealing.  Bestselling authors Gayle Lynds and David Morrell became the co-founders of the International Thriller Writers, and the rest is history. A year and half later we had our first annual meeting—ThrillerFest. This year will be ThrillerFest VII. We hold ThrillerFest in NYC every year because this dynamic venue offers added value to our attendees.  Top agents, publishers, editors, and publicists can walk down the street and join us for panels, workshops, and parties. We do everything we can to provide phenomenal programming for everyone who loves a thrill.

3.      As the executive director, what do you do? I work with D.P. Lyle, MD, the VP of National Events and 2012 CraftFest Director, to make sure everything runs smoothly—working with the hotel, organizing the programming, handling the nuts and bolts of the conference.  We’re most proud of the fact that ThrillerFest has an incredibly welcoming atmosphere.  Fans, aspiring writers, bestselling authors, and industry professionals mingle at the panels, cocktail parties, and the banquet.  The conference has often been referred to as a summer camp for writers because of its relaxed, warm ambiance.  Come join us!

4.      Where do you see book publishing heading? The myriad changes in publishing make this an exciting time to be part of the publishing industry.  Authors can decide to go the traditional publishing route or they can self-publish.  POD, eBooks, print books, audio books—the choices are plentiful.  The key shift is the increased pressure for authors to write like Ken Follett and market like Steve Jobs.  Authors can no longer hide away in remote cabins and write.  They need to take an active role in promoting their brand, especially in the social networking sphere.

5.      What are the rewards and challenges of writing in the thriller genre? The thriller genre offers an international toy box of pleasures with the parameters of the genre broadening every day, including everything from international locales, supernatural beings, and bioterrorism.  Thrillers often top the NYT Bestseller list, as they are incredibly popular.  The challenge for authors is to stand out you need to have a fresh voice and a unique idea.  After AgentFest, the agents who heard countless pitches from aspiring authors remarked on how many people had stories about Islamic terrorists.  Yes, this is a hot spot in the news, but to capture the attention of agents and editors, you must offer something different that makes them sit up and take notice.

6.      Any advice for struggling writers? I would recommend a multi-pronged approach to improve your chances of success.  First, learn the craft by reading how-to-write books and attending writing schools like CraftFest.  Hone your craft so your story will shine through without any distractions.  Second, study the art of storytelling through resources like Joseph Campbell’s studies of the hero’s journey and Michael Hauge’s storytelling advice.   Third, network with other authors and industry professionals to take your writing to the next level.  Connecting with others also offers support as you continue on your journey towards publication.  Most of all, never give up.  Perseverance is the key factor for success.

Interview With Publishers Weekly Advertising Director Ted Olczak

1.      Ted, what is the state of advertising for PW and the publishing industry? Brian, I feel this is the Golden Age for publishing.  There are more titles, and more books being published in the United States and around the globe than ever before.  According to the most recent Bowker Study, over 350,000 new titles from the traditional publishing houses, and if you include those self-published titles that have ISBN numbers, we expect over 3 million in the coming year! Emerging markets are hungry for content, and our publishers are interested in selling rights worldwide.  We help advertisers though the network of Show Dailies at London, BEA and Frankfurt.  PW also has a partnership with www.Pubmatch.com, which is essentially a rights database where publishers worldwide can post available rights and can connect directly about buying and selling rights from each other Our website www.publishersweekly.com went from 200k to 600k monthly visitors (over a million of page views every month) over the past 2 years.   This ebullient market, along with our seemingly expanded marketing tools and programs, ranging from eBlasts to webcasts, made for a successful year, and this year we’ll continue to grow advertising in the double digits.

2.      Which is more effective: ads in the print magazine or online? Overall, you know this is a marketing ‘mix’ to generate sales, and comes down to communicating the right message to the target market. Online ads are easier to track as the reporting is extremely sophisticated, letting clients know exactly how much exposure and how many clicks that are redirected from the ad to their desired website.   Print ads buy you mindshare, and your ‘call to action’ will produce results.  Print ads have the advantage of both space and time, which is not always afforded in the online world.  Tracking here is a bit more nebulous due to how clients track (for example, saying “How did you hear about us? will produce a different answer to “Where did you get my phone number today?”).

3.      What makes for a good ad? Simply, the best ads have a clear message and offer.   For my online ads, I tell clients to be brief, and enticing (Do the explaining on the landing page where the click thru direct it).  In our print ads, we encourage many of the Trade items: price, page count, ISBN, distributor, special offers, etc.

4.      Where do you see book publishing heading? Book publishing will continue to evolve as our reading habits grow and change.  More technology will allow us better access and pricing to what we really want to read.  Those who sell and lend books need to understand their changing customers’ consumption and develop ways to meet it.   This topic is a blog unto itself.

5.      Reflecting back on your experience almost 20 years ago with PW and now, how has your role in selling advertising changed? It’s no longer just the magazine, and it’s no longer just the Big Publishers.  I am definitely helping the independent publisher connect with KEY book buyers like they have never done before, and helping the large publishers rethink, explain and reposition on how they target market using the new marketing tools. 

6.      If the vast majority of new books are not being published by traditional publishers, how do you reach the new self-published authors and Indie publishers? PW’s brand is huge in the trade, but we have to do quite a bit of marketing ourselves; as we attend self-publishing conferences and target other related lists to reach out to the self-published author.  Many do come across our website.  We designed PW Select, it’s a fantastic program for them. PW also works closely with many of the Independent Publishers associations, from IBPA to PubWest.  I’m always amazed how much great publishing is out there.

7.      Should one advertise an e-book any differently than a printed one? Yes.  I just started taking ads for e-books, as most of them have been directed at the consumer, and the library buying has been controlled by a few companies.  We are still in the ‘trial’ stages of how to properly market an e-book, but they have different benefits and markets.  Publishers need to grow the marketplace through availability and pricing very much like Oscar Dystell did with mass market paperbacks during the mid 20th century.  eBooks are still a fraction of the marketplace, but must be part of any publishers business model.    

8.      Do you have any special deals or plans for Book Expo? Contact me at tolczak@publishersweekly.com or 212.377.5709.  We have great number of different ‘packages’ for independent publishers based on need.   PW is the Official Trade Show Daily at BookExpo America, and will have additional distribution on the show’s buses and at select hotels here in Manhattan.  Reach out today to see how I can help.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

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