Last weekend I attended the 2007 LDStorymakers Writers Conference in Provo, UT. I went as a presenter, a boot camp instructor, the writing contest chair, and representing my editing company. I think it was one of the best organized conferences I have attended. Thanks to the conference organizers (Julie Wright, Josi Kilpack, and BJ Rowley), every minute was put to good use. The speakers were wonderful and the workshops were great. Brandon Sanderson came and spoke to our group (he's the next big thing in Fantasy)--even though I don't read much fantasy, let alone write it (or even really understand it all)--I came away more motivated. This guy wrote 6 books before he got one accepted by Tor. He gave some great advice that I'd like to pass on. The following are not direct quotes:
1. Learn the business side of publishing. In other words, go to writers conferences and meet those agents and editors. Get to know the people who are behind the desks and making the decisions.
2. Write every day (well, 6 days a week). He writes 10 pages a day.
I don't know if he really told us to write that much, but that's what he does. He was so passionate and determined to write every day that he found a job that would let him write while he worked. He signed on for night duty at a local hotel and he wrote every night for 5 hours.
3. It took him 4 years of publishing to finally make enough money to turn writing into a full-time career.
Some of us might think that all we need is one book deal, then we're set. But Sanderson made it clear that it's a growing process. He has several books under contract (like 10). So his plate is full.
Another thing I found interesting was that Brandon kept sending each new manuscript to the same agent--because that agent was encouraging and gave him great feedback. So when Brandon got Tor to pick up one of his books, he called that agent. Of course that agent was ready to represent that book. Something is better than nothing. And the editor at Tor who picked up the book? He was someone who Brandon met at a . . . writer's conference--and the editor sat on the book for 18 months before he read it and called Brandon back.
So if you want to be a published author you must have the following three virtues:
3. And Several Manuscripts Ready
And by the way, next year Annette Lyon and I are the conference directors . . . so get ready to rock and roll.