Category Archives: Superstars Writing Seminars

Superstars Week, Day 2: Top Benefits of the Superstars Seminar

Today, Day Two of Superstars Week, three more Fictorians share some of the top benefits the Superstars Writing Seminar provided to us.

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Frank Morin: Superstars was a landmark event in my writing career. I came to Superstars thinking I knew what it meant to be a writer. I left knowing what it takes to succeed.

The presenters shared so much knowledge in such a short time, it’s hard to understand until you’re there. Of all the brilliant advice, here’s what I found most useful:

1. Volume matters, particularly in today’s market. One book per year is minimum. No longer can a writer slave over a manuscript for years before it’s ready for release. Just like everything else in our world, the pace is faster than ever. Competition is fierce and readers’ attention spans are short. They have too many other options available. They won’t wait for years. Kevin J Anderson said early in his career, he was querying with over 30 separate pieces simultaneously.

2. Contracts. This is business. Publishers, and even some agents, are not your friends. The only person who is really looking out for your interests is you. Learn about contracts, ask questions, and don’t sign anything you don’t fully understand.

3. The economics of publishing. We got a glimpse at the economics involved from both the authors and publishers points of view. It was eye opening. I had never realized publishers generally lose money on an author’s first book. A publisher is making an investment, hoping to reap a return on that investment through future books by that author as their fan base grows. That helped explain why most new authors get very little for a first novel. Understanding how the industry works allows us to approach it as professionals, with correct expectations.

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Ann Cooney: Superstars was wonderful because now I’m able to manage my career with confidence and approach it with professionalism rather than naive timidity.

Superstars showed me where the bar sits to be a professional writer. For example, if you’re serious about writing, WRITE! A novel a year is the minimum output. So, that first year after Superstars I wrote two novels to complete the trilogy I had started. Last year I researched and wrote another novel. This year, my new research complete, I expect to complete one, possibly two novels for a series. So now when I talk to publishers and editors, I have a product line which show I’m serious because I have more than a one-time dream I’m selling.

Before Superstars I found the idea of talking with anyone in the industry intimidating because I felt so naive. And I was. Now, with some understanding how things operate, it’s easier talk to publishers, editors and successful authors in a time when the industry is changing so much.

When I saw how much the superstar authors give back to the writing community I was inspired to do more than I had been. I’m a short story contest judge. I’m editing an anthology. I help other aspiring writers and support writing groups. The neat thing is that the more I give, the more I learn and grow and my network of resources and contacts are always expanding.

In short, the greatest thing about Superstars is that I have great role models who have not only inspired me but have shared what it takes to make it in this industry. And for that, I’ll always be grateful. Thanks!

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Jason Michelsen: I can’t recommend the Superstars Writing Seminar enough. Even after going through two different writing programs at the undergrad and graduate levels in college, there were so many things left untaught during my education about the business side of the industry. I suppose it is a school’s job merely to teach its students how to write better, but, as I learned at the
seminar, there is so much more to being a writer than just writing.

For one thing, we never discussed contracts in school, and if you ever want to get paid as a writer, knowing about contracts is important. The lecture by Eric Flint on contracts was invaluable. Granted, there are a lot of writers out there who may not read their contracts carefully and leave all negotiating up to their agents, but I for one want to know exactly what’s in my contract should I ever be lucky enough to get published through traditional means.

Getting published through traditional means typically requires an agent, something else that was never discussed when I was in school but is covered at length during this seminar. It’s true that just about every author has their own unique story about how they acquired their agent, but the Superstars Writing Seminar prepares you for what you need to do when you’re ready to go to market with your finished manuscript.

Knowing a little about the market doesn’t hurt either. Okay, knowing a lot about the market is ideal: what kinds of books are selling, what publishing houses publish the types of books you write, what you might expect to make as a mid-list author or national bestseller, etc.

Sure, discussing salary might be jumping the gun a bit for most seminar attendees, but that’s the beauty of the Superstars Writing Seminar. Not only do you get access to a wealth of knowledge about the publishing industry, you also get access to some of the most prolific writers producing speculative fiction today. So if you go, hang out with the authors during breaks, ask them questions, network and make connections with your fellow attendees. You’ll be glad you did!

See you in April at Superstars!

Superstars Week, Day 1: Changed Trajectories

Evan Braun: Back in the winter of 2010, I was absolutely nowhere. I thought of myself as a “writer,” but I was stalled with several unfinished projects and low ambition. The publishing world seemed impenetrable. I didn’t belong to any writing groups. I didn’t have a critique partner. Really, I had almost no writer friends at all, and I had never thought to venture to a convention or seminar.

And then I saw a post on Brandon Sanderson’s blog about an upcoming seminar he was teaching at: Superstars Writing Seminar. I had been following Brandon’s progress for some time, mostly due to his Wheel of Time connection, and I respected him as a writer. The other writers represented were no less respectable: Kevin J. Anderson, David Farland, Eric Flint, and Rebecca Moesta. The promise was that this seminar was different than all the others, that it would emphasize the business of writing over the craft of writing. Craft is important beyond measure, no question about it, but the business end of things is where so many up-and-comers trip and fall.

I’m from central Canada and the conference was in Pasadena, so attending was no small investment, and yet I made a split-second decision to take a gamble, hoping this would enliven my flagging writing career.

It did, and without hesitation I can chalk up most, if not all, of my growth since, both as a writer and as a professional, to that split-second decision. Not only have I finished writing several novels since then, but I’ve mapped out a half-dozen others and even published one with a small press.

The third annual Superstars Writing Seminar is coming up this April 30-May 2 in Las Vegas, and to help promote that event, several contributors here at the Fictorian Era decided to band together and do a week of posts about our Superstars experiences. You see, the Fictorian Era only exists because of Superstars. All of us came together at that fateful 2010 seminar. So, to pay homage to the event that brought us together and changed our collective course as writers, we ask you to consider Superstars.

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Colette Vernon: I attended the 2010 Superstars Seminar in Pasadena. It exceeded all my expectations. Throughout the entire seminar, Kevin, Brandon, Dave, Rebecca, and Eric made themselves available for questions and sincerely did all they could to help us publishing wannabes. They didn’t run to their hotel rooms as I’ve noticed many other well-known writers do during conventions, but spent their time with us.

They brought in unexpected guest speakers, from Joni Labaqui with Writers of the Future to famous Hollywood script writers. Their presentations helped us understand the possibilities available through writing contests and film. They were as open, easy to talk to, and available for discussion as the writers hosting the seminar.

In the two blocks to the Authors Dinner and back I learned more than from any convention I’ve ever attended. One of the authors took time to discuss a recent partial request I’d received from an agent. He asked me questions about my manuscript and the agent, helping me analyze the situation for myself in order to make important decisions. On the way back, he answered specific craft questions, basically giving a twenty-minute, mini-writing class to our group. I believe the tips given in those few minutes jumped my writing ability to the next level.

Of course, I have to mention the connections I’ve made with my fellow Fictorians. Our friendships continued beyond the seminar into the eventual creation of this blog. Many of us have started getting our feet wet in the publishing world. I doubt I would have been remotely prepared for that experience without my attendance at Superstars. With the recent changes in publishing, I’m looking forward to learning more, and asking questions I wouldn’t have thought of two years ago, at the 2012 Las Vegas Superstars.

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Matt Jones: I’ve been going to conventions for years. I’ve been to countless panels talking about every topic under the sun. Some have been interesting, others not so much. Sometimes they would touch on the chosen topic just to drastically change course and start discussing something off the wall, never to return to the original topic. These panels helped give me confidence to write, knowing that if these people could do it, why couldn’t I?

And then I attended the Superstars Writing Seminar, and I was treated to something completely different. At Superstars, you’re treated not as a wannabe writer, but as a professional who is ready to be an author. Instead of questioning your ability to come up with a story or an original thought on your own, they prepare you to take your manuscripts and get them published. It was an entirely new direction for me. It taught me how to deal with agents and publishers, the pros and cons of each. It even touched on self-publishing.

You’re taught the secrets of pitching your work, choosing the best agent, and getting the best deals on the contract. Best of all, they make you feel like you’re not just another author who is begging for scraps, hoping someone who walks by takes pity on you. You’re an author, and the world is waiting for your novel. Superstars is there to show you how to give it to them.

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From now until Wednesday, come back to read more about the seminar and the specific ways it has helped each of us Fictorians-and, more importantly, how it can help you-take your fledgling career to the next level. Starting on Thursday, we’ll be hearing from a couple of the Superstars themselves in a pair of Q&A guest posts. You won’t want to miss what they have to say.