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The 2 most interesting questions I heard at the Writers Digest Conference West

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of speaking at the Writer’s Digest West Conference in Hollywood. I did a presentation titled, 7 Secrets of Successful Self Published Authors and was a panel member in the session Self Publishing in the Real World – What to Expect, What to Do, and How to Do It. I always enjoy these opportunities because I am able to bring clarity to writers and authors who can be overwhelmed and confused by all the changes taking place. Plus, I get to hear what authors are currently thinking. That is why I especially enjoy the Q&A period.

From conference to conference, I hear a lot of the same questions, but every once and a while, someone asks a question I have not heard before or asks it in a manner  that frames the issue in a different way.  At this conference,I heard two questions which I not heard expressed previously.

The first question was from an author who had a book about to go live and she asked in a somewhat exasperated tone, “What am I missing?” The reason for her question was she had been reading and preparing to launch her book and was a bit overwhelmed by all she had to do. It left her doubting whether she had missed something. Was there something she was not doing that would cause her book to be a dud?. I found the question fascinating because it illustrates the challenges many authors are facing today.

As I have shared in this blog, there are four paths to publishing today. One of them is what I call the General Contractor path, which means an author can hire a number of independent contractors to do the work of getting the book into the market.  That is the path this author was pursuing, and as her question suggested, it can be overwhelming.

The chart shows the tasks needed to get a book into the market,and as you can see there is a lot to do. That is why some authors prefer a publishing package or traditional publishing path.  In a few days, I will be releasing a white paper that provides greater detail about these publishing paths, but her question was very timely.

The second question that caught my attention was offered by a gentleman who had given his manuscript to eight different editors or agents asking for opinions. All eight gave a different critique and the range of responses were all over the map. His question was, “How do I know which editor is right?”

He was clearly frustrated, but again, this question illustrates one of the challenges  authors are experiencing as changes are taking place in publishing.  That is why I did a post a few months ago asking Alan Rinzler advice on selecting an editor.  He offered six tips on finding an editor that you can read by clicking here. I think you will find it helpful.

Drawing from Alan’s suggestion, I told the author he should make sure he is taking advice from an editor that knows his genre and also one that offers suggestions that still allow the book to be written with his voice.  I think it helped him narrow down the editors he would follow up with, but it does point out that too many opinions are not as helpful as one qualified critique.

Perhaps you have some questions about your publishing options. If so, feel free to use the comment feature to send them my way. I will do my best to answer them for you and help you chose the best path to becoming a published author.


2 thoughts on “The 2 most interesting questions I heard at the Writers Digest Conference West

  1. I was there for the second question and it hit home with me. I have been lucky to have some great beta readers whose opinion I trust. However, two of them gave me conflicting feedback on one section of my WIP. One said they loved the section, one said, “I think that section should go.” Guess I have to go with my gut on it!

    • keithogorek says:

      I agree on your comment. Good editors are able to improve the work without losing the author’s voice. That is a rare,but valuable skill.

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