I belong to a local writing group that meets most months. We have lunch and talk about our writing, our books, and the publishing business at large (as well as other things). We get loud, we have fun and we share a lot of experience with each other. I’m convinced that our new world of publishing is distinguished by more cooperation between authors and a healthy exchange of information. So, I had an idea to extend the circle a bit – since everyone was excited about the idea, we did it.
Last Saturday, we hosted Writers Making Connections. The idea was to get a bigger group of writers together to network. We had lunch and talked – about our writing, our books and the publishing business at large. It turned out that most of us in attendance were indie-publishing at least part of our lists, or thinking about diving into that. We also invited freelance editors and brought promo materials from the service providers we use. We brought our own swag, too, and filled a table with the promo materials. We kept the cost low - the $15 registration fee covered the buffet lunch and the use of the room. The idea was that we would break even, not make a profit.
The plan was to keep everything as low-maintenance as possible, because we’re all busy writers. We each took a job. I wrote an invitation and after we agreed on it, sent it out to industry people and listserves. Everyone spread the word through their own networks. Melanie Card was the contact person for registration and replied to each person with info about registering and paying. Jane Kent arranged for the venue and the lunch, and collected the money to pay the bill. Jessica E. Subject sent confirmation messages to registrants after their payment etc. was received, giving them the details of the event location. a.c. Mason made the signs, telling people how to find the room, and Susan Douglas did nametags on lanyards in advance of the event.
Saturday morning, we got up to fresh snow. Ugh! Even so, we had 24 attendees, including 3 freelance editors, 1 blogger and Christina Potter from KOBO Writing Life. Most of the authors write romance, erotica or young adult fiction – because that’s what most of us write, those were the people we knew. There were also fantasy and mystery writers. People came from all around Stratford, even from as far as Sarnia, Toronto and Ottawa. We drank all the coffee (twice) and ate most of the food on the buffet, and talked until we were hoarse.
The best part for me was that the exchange of information was very generous. The matchmaking was wonderful: “Oh, you’re writing such-and-such. You really need to look at this website, and I’ll email you contact info for a reviewer. You should also go introduce yourself to that person over there.” I LOVE that helpful aspect of our new publishing world. It’s great karma for all of us.
My one concern was that the room didn’t have the acoustics to graciously handle all our conversation – it became very, very loud in there! I came home exhausted, with a pocketful of new ideas and business cards.
That was when I remembered that my camera was in my purse.
If you attended, thank you very much for doing so. I hope you had as good of a time as I did, and found it a useful (and fun) way to spend an afternoon. Thanks also to Melanie, Jessica, Susan, Mason and Jane for making the details run so smoothly.
We’re going to host this event again next fall. If you were one of the attendees on Saturday, you’ll be the first to know. If you weren’t one of the attendees on Saturday, you might want to join us next time. (The Nanaimo bars were particularly good.) We’ve also created a Facebook page for the event—it’s still pretty bare-bones but if you’d like to keep an eye on plans as they shape up (or if you just think it’s a good idea) please come on by and LIKE us.