WonderCon 2018 Day Two

Spent most of my second day at WonderCon in the Writers Coffeehouse. Caught a few writing panels after.

Notes below!

Writers Coffeehouse

  • hosted by the writer Peter Clines
  • rule one: there’s always exceptions
  • five myths about publishing
    • all traditional publishers are doomed: nope, 2013 was the best year ever for penguin publishing, gave everyone a $5,000 christmas bonus; trad pubs have been around for centuries and aren’t going away
    • trad pubs will not work with new authors: nope, people go straight to big five publishers all the time; there are big pubs that don’t require an agent (for example, tor)
    • trad publishers are going to make you change your book: out of 200 writers he knows (to varying degrees), has only heard of one author forced to change, and that’s because they picked up his book as part of five book set and they didn’t really want it; you’ll always get notes from the editor sure but that’s part of their job and a lot of it is right, and you don’t have to take them
    • trad publishers will take all your money and never give anything: uh, nope, the advance they pay you is yours, even if it doesn’t earn out; and nothing in return? nope, they give you a story editor, a copyeditor, interior layouts, designer, cover designer, publicist (yes, for every book), even have a regional bookseller whose job is to sell books to bookstores; that’s six people you get working on your book that you’d have to hire yourself
    • trad publishers will make you give the advance back if it doesn’t sell: oh so ridiculously untrue; no one has to give it back for the book underselling; they do ask for it back for breach of contract, like the book isn’t done two years past it’s due date, or they signed a contract for four books but only wrote three
  • self-publishing myths
    • self-pub is faster and easier than trad pub: sort of true, in that you can go home tonight and push a book out, but that’s a quick way to produce crap; if you want to produce a good product, you basically have to take on all the jobs of a publisher yourself, which takes time away from your writing
    • self-pub means more money to the writer: self pubbing is sort of like opening your own restaurant vs being a chef in someone else’s restaurant; you can do what you want but you’re on the hook for all the expenses as well, probably have to shell out for someone else to do a lot of the work that you can’t do yourself; get a bigger cut of the pie but it’s a smaller pie from fewer sales
    • there’s a stigma to be self-published: this used to be true, but epublishing has changed everything, agents and editors alike are reading self-pub books looking for new stuff; clines’ agent has talked to him about doing some self-publishing as a viable path for some work
    • trad pub will never touch you if you self-publish: nope, just ask andy weir or hugh hawley, both of whom were self-pubbed before their books got picked up by trad publishers; trad publishers are even starting to view self-publishing as the minor leagues
    • odds of success are better: hard to dispel, because success is so hard to measure; there are people that make good money self-publishing, but there’s so many people that get into it to release garbage; just looking at the money, most writers come out agead with a traditional publisher; to use an analogy, most people strike out with self-publishing but it’s really easy to hit a single or a double, very hard to hit a home run
  • tips for anyone:
    • have the best manuscript you can; don’t take your first draft and try to shop it around
    • learn to spell! don’t just accept what your spellchecker gives you
    • billy wilder: if you have a problem with your third act, you probably have a problem with your first act; clines thinks that’s true of careers as well
    • follow the guidelines: don’t send your horror novel to hallmark; don’t violate the expectations of your genre, like trying to sell a 250,000-word romance novel
    • don’t assume you’re the exception: yeah, they’re always there, but don’t assume that’s going to be you
    • develop empathy: if you can’t see things from other people’s perspective, you’re going to have a short career; need to be able to see how publishers and readers are going to see it; his grandparents recently died, and they never read any of his books
    • top tip: SLOW DOWN: take your time, don’t rush to get somethig out to market, you’ll have better success taking the time you need to send out a better product
  • screenwriters that aren’t represented: going through screenwriting contests is a great way to get noticed
    • nicholl fellowship
    • screenwriting expo
  • fact: when he met her, clines’ girlfriend made a living winning screenwriting contests

Comics Tag Teams: Writing and Drawing Action

  • mark waid
  • mariko tamaki
  • matthew rosenberg
  • dan jurgens
  • kelley jones
  • gail simone
  • what as an artist would you want to tell writers about their scripts?
    • just give me a few sentences and let me go
  • mariko: always tries to have a skype call with the artist so you can establish a relationship of trust; it’s always like a first date, little awkward, but you’ve got to figure out how best to work together
  • gail: prefers writing full script, marvel style ends up taking too long for her; still lets artist suggest changes, but likes to control the action since it’s such a great way to show character
  • comedy takes space, to give it the right timing, put the pauses in
  • gail: asks artist what they like to draw, and what they hate, so she can tailor her writing to that
  • ever changed your script for the art?
    • mariko: yeah, totally, all the time
    • matthew: for the collaboration, yeah, you rewrite once you see the art, always

Full-Time Creative Work on a Part-Time Schedule

  • mario martinez: co-founder of tomato tv
  • topher davila: started out graphic design, then animated pilots, then almost sold show to disney, etc
  • james frye: theconguy.com
  • dr rina balzinger: dean of a college in socal, quitting to take charge of a music school in LA
  • gene trembo: manager of krypton radio, reaches 165 countries, transmedia company starting to look at publishing books, and starting animated webseries called mighty aprodite
  • gene: don’t wait for permission to be creative, life’s too short
  • gene: don’t say “i want to be a writer,” say “i’m a writer” describe yourself as the artist you want to be to other people
  • james: orient your life so it points towards your goals; change where you are, who you hang out with, so you point in that way; except for spiritual and health pursuits
  • case in point: if you want to write for tv, or be in entertainment, you have to move to LA
  • topher: anyone you meet could be an opportunity; don’t close yourself off from tripping into other stuff, he started illustration found he’s good at management and he enjoys it, it’s rare in creative people so he can translate between business and art sides
  • mario: use what you know in your writing; approaches character building analytically because he was a historian for years
  • ron coleman, phd: specialty is regenerative medicine: turning skin cells into stem cells, working with sd zoo to bring back southern white rhino; also writes comic called kevin the drunk jedi
  • ron: always have cards with you that you can pass out to people; give them out to everyone
  • when you get a card, write down on the back where/when met and what you talked about
  • need illustrators? check creative marketplace online, and the comics creatirs conference in long beach in the spring
  • scheduling? always leave time for 2 minor disasters. at least one will happen
Ron Toland @mindbat