The recent National Writers Union 8th Annual conference was a rousing success. Held at NWU headquarters in midtown Manhattan, the event brought to mind the African proverb, “Doing one’s best drives away regret.”
The theme was “The Writer’s Key to Success,” and NWU Conference Organizing Committee members, Chapter ’87, labored to create a seminar where attendees would have no “regrets” about making future missteps in their professional writing careers.
After conferees ate breakfast, steering committee co-chairs Tim Sheard and Raymond Nat Turner addressed the assembly with appreciative welcomes and then, as the room rumbled with activity, folks got down to business. There were nine sessions presented by experts who offered advice on writing, publishing, and promotion.
In the workshop, “Branding Yourself for the New York Minute,” Lee Christine Roman, treasurer of the Chapter ’81 steering committee, shared her expertise: “You want to be recognized for your product: You, your writing, your literature, books, and topics of expertise,” she explained to attendees. She advised them to secure their icon on their email signature, professional cards, letterhead, documents, and even flyers, adding: “Create a promotional trailer if you are releasing a book.”
Libraries are scribes’ greatest pals, said Hal Grossman, a librarian at Hunter College. He advocated writers maintain a local library card so they can access hundreds of databases, some from home. If one is an alumni of an area college or meets the requirements to use their facilities, that’s another valuable resource. A library adventure, Grossman advocated, is also a way both to pry yourself from the lonesome confines of a home office and to reinvigorate your projects.
After lunch, Randy Kearse, author of the bestseller Changin’ Your Game Plan, presented an inspiring talk that was the highlight of the day. After serving a 30-year sentence, he’s become a high profile, self-published writer who’s sold more than 80,000 books. He’s been featured in the New York Times and appeared on Stephen Colbert’s The Late Show. He haunts subways with armsful of his work, moving books like hot-buttered popcorn at a baseball game.
“Sell your books where people are gathered, not at events where book are being sold… There’s too much competition. I’m not paying a $500 fee to display my books,” he said. With his innovative marketing approach, he stands outside of meetings, concerts, conferences, sporting events and has, by chance, connected with people who have invited him to speak at various affairs. He enjoys the interaction of selling his book to individuals because, beyond the initial sales, it creates relationships.
“Always carry your book with you even when you are not out vending it,” he advised. His talk went over well, and as he concluded he was inundated with questions.
At the Practice Pitches for Every Type of Writer, Katharine Sands was more popular than an R & B star headlining at the Apollo. An agent at the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency, she’s brokered substantial book contracts for numerous authors. Sands focused on satisfactorily completing an agent’s author questionnaire to increase one’s potential for success. The questionnaire gives the agent and publisher insight into methods to promote, sell, advertise, and raise the profile of an interesting book idea.
She counseled writers to provide relevant information to an agent about their background, credentials, honors, citations, education, expertise, vocation, victories over life challenges, marriage, divorce, inspirations that drove the writing of the book—all those juicy bits of backstory relevant to the proposed book.
During that session, NWU member Peter Benjamin also presented critical data that writers can use to empower their queries to potential publishers.
Other spirited presentations included:
- Planning a Successful Book Launch by Izzy Charles and Ron Howell
- Finding Your Legal Grounds by Amy Lehman and Alberto Roldan
- Self-publishing Innovation by Kinga Jentetics
As the event came to an end, a number of participants shared how much they’d gotten out of it.
“I didn’t know anything about marketing, pitching your ideas, and so on. I was in awe,” said B.A. Eddie, the Christian author of When You See The Light
Kudos to the NWU Conference Organizing Committee, Chapter ’87, which included Peter Benjamin, Mary Biehl, M.A. Dennis, Alexander Faiz, Tom Gogan, Larry Goldbetter, Gregg Morris, Mreya Perez, Lee Christine Roman, Yusef Salaam, Timothy Sheard, Raymond Nat Turner, and Diane Ward.