Chanticleer Authors Conference 2018 Recap #CAC18

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Conferences are weird, in the best way. I’ve been to a handful of different writers’ conferences now, both as a fiction writer and through work. I show up nervous, feeling out of place, but ready to learn. And I leave tired, completely mentally and physically spent, but not quite ready to go. Despite having a fistful of business cards left that I haven’t handed out, I always seem to make a few connections with great people and learn some stuff along the way.

Here are my top five takeaways from each of the sessions I attended at the Chanticleer Authors Conference in Bellingham, WA, a couple weekends ago.

Building a World One Book at a Time with Ann Charles and Diane Garland

  • Keep track of ALL details somewhere, like in OneNote. Define rules for your world that don’t change. Readers will notice inconsistencies!
  • Describe the world in my (your) voice. It should look, sound, taste, smell, and feel like a Rebekah Bryan (your) world.
  • You want fans to get excited about aspects of the setting so that they notice things in the real world and think of your book.
  • Having characters swear differently is a good way to differentiate between them and define an author voice.
  • Each book in a series has to feel different and have a different theme.

Bonus: there’s a town in Arizona called Threeway. I had to keep myself from laughing. I am mature…

Tips for Commanding Attention in a Crowded Room, panel with Sara Dahmen, Janet Oakley, Janet Shawgo, and Joan Acklin
(or as I called it, FASHUN)

  • When you stand out, booksellers will recognize that you can do more. They can plan an event around you if you show them something original.
  • If you have characters that do something, do it, and take pictures. Live your book, if you can.
  • There’s no such thing as too over the top.
  • Even if you’re not going all out, incorporate elements of your brand. Create a go-to look that you’re known for. Be consistent.
  • Have swag and props that are unique to you.

Using Sound and Sight to Revise Your Work with Craig Anderson

  • Use a program like Balabolka (text-to-speech program) to read your manuscript back to you.
  • Turn your manuscript into an .mp3 to edit on the go.
  • Download different voices, for a price, if you want one appropriate to your story. For example, a child for children’s books, different accents, etc.
  • Listening to your book in a different way using a different voice could also help you catch mistakes you missed before.
  • Not recommended for creating audiobooks, but the technology could get there in the future.

Lunch Keynote with Ann Charles
I didn’t take notes during this one, but my main takeaways were that Ann Charles was an answer on Jeopardy! How cool is that? And that everyone’s journey is different. It was a really good speech, and I mostly just wanted to sit back and enjoy.

How to Create a Book Trailer on a Budget with Dawn Groves

  • Video content at the top of a website could lift ratings in Google.
  • Trailers should be under a minute long. Ideally 30 seconds for nonfiction.
  • The trailer should contain images with text bursts and music behind it. Around nine “bursts” for a minute-long video. Don’t use voiceovers unless you have someone skilled to do the voice work for you.
  • See what other people in your genre are doing and use their videos as a starting point for what yours should include.
  • You can use programs as simple as PowerPoint or as powerful as Adobe Premiere.

Bonus: To avoid copyright issues, consider using local musicians (with their permission) who may be excited for the exposure!

How to Create Diehard Fans through Relationship Marketing with Ann Charles

  • Relationship marketing creates long-term readers and word-of-mouth marketing. You should get to know your fans. Market to what they want. Provide an experience for them.
  • Remember the little stuff to genuinely connect with fans.
  • Readers like to feel that they are a part of a club. Consider naming a group or club after something related to your book.
  • When creating promotional items, think of something readers will put up somewhere (magnets, window clings, etc.), not something they’ll dispose of (candy) or squirrel away (maybe bookmarks).
  • Understand that reviews are helpful, but some readers may not feel comfortable doing them. Encourage them to tell a friend about your book or request it at their local library instead.

Manuscript Overview (MOV), editorial panel with Craig Anderson, Sara Dahmen, Lawrence Verigin, John Yarrow, and Vijay Lakshman
I must say, after this session, I totally did want to cough up the $$$ to get an MOV from Chanticleer. While the nearly $500 price tag is absolutely a big investment, many professional developmental editors will ask for at least double that for comparable services.

  • An MOV is a deep-dive into the arc of the story, including continuity, character, and plot issues. It does not include line edits, grammar, etc.
  • Put aside your ego. Usually the editor is right.
  • At the end of the day, the MOVs are suggestions. The author still gets the final say.
  • Find someone who’s familiar and comfortable with your genre.
  • When should you consider getting an MOV? When the book is done but you’re too close to see the problem areas. When you get to the point of “pushing pixels.”

So would I recommend this conference to a friend? ABSOLUTELY! My husband encouraged me to submit something for next year, and I’d love to go back, but we’ll see. Stay tuned for my Awards Banquet recap tomorrow!