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Richard Hugo House: Finding Your Readers in the 21st Century

I hope you’ll mark your calendars for this event. I’ll be participating on panels and in workshops on Saturday, May 22, 2010.  It promises to be one of the best literary conferences in the Pacific Northwest in 2010!

From the Richard Hugo House website:

Finding Your Readers in the 21st Century

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”
                                              —A Tale of Two Cities

Charles Dickens was describing the era of the French Revolution, but he might as well have been discussing the state of modern-day publishing.  Bookstores are going out of business; publishing houses are laying off staff, and everyone keeps predicting the imminent death of The Book.

Meanwhile, writers soldier on, putting one word after the other, revising and revising again and wondering how, and if, anyone will ever read their work.

Well, it’s time to stop wondering and take matters into your own hands.

On the weekend of May 21-23, Richard Hugo House will be hosting its first writers’ conference. The topic will be: Finding Your Readers in the 21st Century.

Our focus will be on exploring the changing literary landscape and the options available to writers for getting their work out in the world and into the hands of readers. While we will certainly look at traditional publishing models, what we’re really interested in is showcasing new possibilities that writers in our community may not be aware of, from the traditional to the off-the-wall. We’ll look at ways writers can promote themselves and their work directly to their readers, and offer hands on practical workshops on basic tools of the writing business from creating a pre-pub platform to building your own website.

Registration for Finding Your Readers in the 21st Century will open on April 5 for Hugo House members and April 12 for the general public.

Featured speakers:
Alan Rinzler
Barbara Sjoholm
Matthew Stadler
Jeff Vandermeer

Alice Acheson
Ryan Boudinot
Wendy Call
Karen Finneyfrock
Stacey Levine
Priscilla Long
Elizabeth Wales

…and many others!

We’ll be updating information about the conference as it comes in, so check back often for the latest 411.

*Program details, presenters and schedules are subject to change.

The Richard Hugo House
1634 11th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98122

Open Hours:
Monday-Friday: 12 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Saturday: 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.


Change is a-comin’ at Writer’s Rainbow

Public domain image: "Dendritic Cells" by HaymanJ (2008).

Small businesses are microorganisms, growing and stretching and refining themselves.

My work here for Writer’s Rainbow is maturing as well, and I’d like to call attention to a few changes in my services and programming in 2010.

For one thing, I will no longer handle poetry, unless it’s prose poetry and only prose poetry. However, most of the content of my past workshops will remain the same: I’ll still be offering programming for magical realist writers, writing parents, short story writers, bloggers, and those up for the NaNoWriMo challenge.

It’s just the way the offerings are structured and scheduled that will change.

I will be phasing out all copyediting, manuscript review, and manuscript critique as individual services starting in June 2010.  I am still going to work as a developmental editor, but I’m keeping those tasks in conjunction with my platform consulting and coaching services. Platform consulting and coaching are natural counterparts to the developmental editor’s job and it makes better sense for a writer, who wants to invest in an editor, to get the best “bang for their buck.” I also find that I’m a more loyal devotee to my clients’ work when I know I will be part of the larger picture.

Editing, after all, isn’t only about dotting Is and crossing Ts, but about bringing forth the best narrative the author aspires to write.

I am also cutting out my online class lineup in favor of 1:1 mentoring arrangements. It takes a lot of extra time to put together online workshops that function well, primarily because there are time zone issues (as my clients come from all around the world), but also because a class can only work if there’s a good live meeting time and place.

While I’ve been able to structure some of these in the past, they end up being scheduled when I should be sleeping or spending time with my family. However, 1:1 mentorship arrangements guarantee that you, as the client, will get all my attention, and that classes will never be canceled due to shifting enrollments. Future students will find added value in the simplicity of this arrangement.

Along with the shift in my services, I’m revamping the website itself, and there will be some additional changes to the overall scheduling and registration.

Check out the following FAQs to see where things are improving, simplifying, making the process simpler for both client and mentor. Meanwhile, in the coming weeks, I will be highlighting some of the upcoming 1:1 mentorships, coaching opportunities, writing clinics and consulting services starting in June 2010. Make sure and subscribe to this blog so you won’t miss any of the news!

  1. When can I sign up for coaching and/or consulting services?
    With the exception of email-only generative 1:1 workshops and special clinics, all coaching and consulting services now operate on a quarterly basis. This means when you sign up, you are registered for a full quarter (3 months) of services.Winter quarter begins in Dec; Spring quarter begins in March; Summer quarter begins in June; and Fall quarter begins in September.

    You can sign up at any time but you must prepay (or preschedule, in the event you are a repeating client) so that your slot for that quarter will be reserved. 

    Deadline to sign up for Winter quarter is November 15; for Spring quarter, it’s February 15; for Summer quarter, it’s May 15; and for Fall quarter, it’s August 15.

    You must go through the review process before registering (this is where I take a look at your work and see whether we’re a good “match”), so please don’t delay. If you contact me after that deadline, and you want to sign up for that quarter, I’ll see if there are any slots available. Chances are good there won’t be open slots, however, because there are only a limited number of them and they fill up fast (with repeat clients, in particular). If I can’t fit you in for that quarter, we can look to the following quarter to see if there are any spots there.

    Repeat clients will have priority for future quarters, as they are likely to be finishing projects, and I won’t abandon them. But if there are spots available, and I’ve determined we’re a good match, I will fit you in, I promise.

    Keep in mind that if you are interested in a generative writing class, these are handled via email only and they are offered all year and can be started at any time. The special NaNoWriMo session has its own registration deadline as well.

  2. What is a good match?
    Working intimately with another writer’s work demands that I be interested in and excited about their manuscript. I have my favorite genres of writing and I have some dislikes, like anybody else. I’m more likely to take on a manuscript which has a speculative fiction quality to it than I am a manuscript which is a romance story, for instance. Since I don’t read romances, I’m not the best person to help you, as I may not be on top of all the specific “rules” of romance writing.If I think a manuscript is ready for the review of an editor, but I’m not the right person for it, I’ll usually send you a referral, as I know many editors who handle different kinds of work.

    Also, I might turn a manuscript away because it needs more development. I am mostly interested in work that is maturing and needs a careful second set of eyes to bring it to its best potential. Manuscripts riddled with spelling and grammar mistakes are also usually riddled with narrative imbalances, careless POV shifts, faulty dialog, pacing issues and other Big Picture problems, so I will likely reject those manuscripts.

    Developmental editing is not just about mechanics and grooming, it’s a holistic approach to story building. When I work with writers, we work together from the inside out. I can only afford to take on those clients who have put a great deal of care into their work; therefore, I will not work with sloppy writers.

  3. How do I get my worked reviewed for a future arrangement with you?
    I generally ask that an interested writer send me 10 pages of a book-length manuscript with an informal summary of their book so I can get a feel for their goals as well as their writing level. Check with me first to see if I’m even available to review your work, and if I am, please allow 2-3 weeks for me to give your work the most careful review.
  4. Why must I sign up for 3 months’ worth of services?
    Experience shows that it takes, on average, 3 to 12 months for most of my clients to finish a first or successive draft of a novel. I have yet to work with a client who has needed less than 3 months of assistance to get their manuscript into working order.
  5. Why biweekly meetings (versus weekly)?
    Far and away, my past and present clients prefer this schedule because it allows them enough time to complete their work and still allow it to “incubate” before we discuss it. It means the writing process moves along more slowly, but a really good book is never written overnight.
  6. Where do we meet?
    Online. I use Google Talk, as it’s private, free, secure, easy to use, and the notes are instantly transcribed. If you’re not familiar with Google Talk, just let me know and I can take you through a practice run before our first meeting.
  7. Why not meet live? 
    Live meetings are only available if you live in Kitsap County and/or are willing to travel to Bainbridge Island for the meeting, as my rates do not reflect off-island travel time and transportation costs (i.e. ferries, gas).Even then, online meetings are a far more effective solution for both mentor and client as they offer a paper trail of notes and links that can be referred to long after the meeting is over.

    If you really must meet live, we’ll discuss options then, but be aware that such requests will result in higher fees.

  8. Why must the first 3-month session be prepaid in advance? 
    Two answers: my schedule fills up fast, so your prepayment guarantees your time slot, and I don’t have time or energy to chase down unpaid clients. I’m a single owner LLC and my resources are limited.
  9. Do you offer payment plans?
    If you’re a returning client, you can choose prepayment of your next session with a discount, or break your payment into a 50/50 schedule, or go month to month. All first sessions with new clients must be prepaid.
  10. Why is your schedule so specific?
    There is work I need to perform before and after each meeting I have with a client. The schedule helps me to stay on task and give each client the attention they’re paying for.I also have other commitments, as a writer and teacher, and budgeting my time accordingly makes it possible to maintain these commitments.
  11. Why don’t I offer a schedule that includes evening and weekend times?
    I wish I could be available to all people, all the time, but that’s not the reality. I have a family and other interests and I need my own mental health break during these times (which includes not answering email or my business calls on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays). I also sometimes teach on evenings and weekends (this is the nature of adult continuing education). Thanks for your understanding.
  12. Do you have a different schedule in the summer?
    Yes; the summer schedule is a little lighter as I do a lot of my own writing during this time, plus I travel a great deal and spend a lot of my time with my family then. The schedule for the month of December is also decidedly lighter for the same reasons.

Do you have any other questions that haven’t been answered here? Contact me directly at tamara@writersrainbow.com. I’ll be posting these FAQs in a separate page later, should you need to revisit them.

March monthly dispatch: Writing platforms–3 building blocks you can work on right now

Public domain image: “Column of Alexander I of Russia in scaffolds. Saint Petersburg” by Grigory Gagarin (1832–1833)

I’ve been developing a program for the writer who has completed (or neared completion of) a novel and is now looking for ways to find a home for their work. This is called the Writing Platform and it consists of a long list of things that writers can do to help bring attention to their work and be found by the right publisher, agent or editor and… ultimately… their intended reader.

There are three main parts to the basic writing platform, which I’ll touch on below. [more]

My final post at BookLife… Apolo Ohno, Shawn White, “on finding sanctuary” and “staying classy”

Musings about subjectivity in judging, two golden boys, taking time and space, and honoring the competition… for writers.


Have a great weekend!

My second post at BookLife… On “earning every medal” and “skiing blind”

Musings about Lindsey Jacobellis, two sisters who didn’t sweep the podium, taking risks and seeking opportunities… for writers.


Self-publishing: there is a right way and a wrong way

 Writer’s Digest ‘s Zachary Petit covers both ways in this latest entry at his blog, PromptlyWhich prompted me to ask the question, “Do people really write successful self-published novels?” After all, the latest buzz surrounding them could really just be the same “you, TOO, can publish!” jibber-jabber meant mostly as a strategy for preying on the hopes of writers.

Aside from the classic stories about famous authors 50 or more years ago who met with success after choosing the vanity press, and the good number of nonfiction books that have consistently sold well over a span of time, you don’t often hear about contemporary books or authors hitting it big with self-publishing. Are writers deluding themselves into thinking they can be successful without a Big House to guide them?   Continue reading

Publishing’s electronic horizons: reality check for writers

2010 is definitely the year that electronic book readers force the questions, will books continue to exist, and if so, in what forms?

Writers have everything to gain by remaining on top of this debate and everything to lose if they deny the value of electronic publishing.

 So do readers, for that matter. What’s at stake for them is the future quality and diversity of all literature.

Here are a handful of links to get the earnest author-to-be  started.

Feb 8, 2010
from Joyful Thoughts
Ebooks and Ereaders
by Joy Collins
Most notably, Collins writes:

…if you are an author, now is your time. EBook lines are usually more open to new authors, giving you a better than average chance of being published. Your readers can get your book in seconds which means the chances of them making their purchase increases since they don’t have to get in their car and go to your book signing, or go to a bookstore, or order online and then wait for the book to arrive in the mail.

Feb 8, 2010
from GalleyCat
Penguin CEO Compares eBooks and Paperbacks
by Jason Boog
Most notably, Boog writes:

The op-ed makes no mention of the fact that the paperback evolved in the middle of the Great Depression. The model “collapsed” after the economic turmoil had passed. The eBook’s rapid growth came during another crippling recession, and $9.99 may reflect an economic reality until our own crisis has passed.

Feb 5, 2010
from Norwich Bulletin
On Writers & Writing: E-books devalue the difficult writing process of authors
by AS Maulucci
Most notably, Maulucci writes:

…when authors start giving away e-book copies of their books just to get people to read them with the hope it will generate word-of-mouth promotion, I believe they are only hurting themselves in the long run.

Feb 3, 2010
from TidBITS
Zombie Authors Threaten Fiction Ebook Market, from the Grave!
by Chris Pepper
Most notably, Pepper writes:

…it’s clear to writers like science-fiction author Charlie Stross that the old model of delivering a large chunk of words to a publisher, and then moving on to the next book, is in trouble. Over the long term, we need to figure this out to keep people writing the books we want to read, but the answer might not be comfortable – or look much like today’s fiction marketplace. One way or another, change is coming, and without taking their fate into their own hands, writers might find themselves spending more time behind the counter at Starbucks than sipping lattes with their publishers.

Feb 2, 2010
from Publicola:  Seattle’s News Elixir
How Many E-Books, Ultimately?
by Glenn Fleishman:
Most notably, Fleishman writes:

Small press doesn’t mean small sales. The statistical design genius Edward Tufte’s Graphics Press, for instance, has produced exactly seven unique titles, but has sold many millions of copies. (Tufte started his own press when he couldn’t find a mainstream publisher that could produce his first book in the way he wanted. Good move.)

Jan 29, 2010
from BoingBoing
Amazon and Macmillan go to war: readers and writers are the civilian casualties
by Cory Doctorow
Most notably, Doctorow writes:

…this is a case of two corporate giants illustrating neatly exactly why market concentration is bad for the arts.