I attended my second National Writers Workshop this past weekend. Once again, it was well worth the $105. One downside was that because it moved from East Hartford to Hartford, Connecticut, parking was not free. One upside related to the move to downtown Hartford was many more restaurants within walking distance of the hotel.
Overall, I thought the content was a bit better this year. Yes, there were a couple of presentations that I felt needing polishing/more content, but what conference has 100% uber-polished speakers? I also like the fact that while this is a conference that is advertised as being 50% journalism content and 50% writing content, this year, the balance did seem to be close to the mark. Backed by the Hartford Courant newspaper and the Poynter Instute, attended by journalists up and down the east coast, it's no wonder that the event caters heavily to what they like to call 'public journalism'.
My favorite presentations this year were from David Baldacci (novelist) and Andy Borowitz (fake news writer). The most informative were Chip Scanlan (Five Sure-Fire Steps to Wild Success), Randy Sue Coburn (Novels: Working With a Writing Partner) and Jason Rich (Self-Publishing Your Own Books).
Five Sure-Fire steps described a 'Natural Planning' method that helps bring projects to completion, be they writing related or anything else.
Working with a Writing partner was about working one-on-one with another writer, not to co-write a novel, but as a means to stay on track, and improve each other's writer, somewhat like SFWW, but in person and in a much more personal way... somewhat like the way I like a workout buddy to keep me going to the gym.
The Self-Publishing presentation was notable in part because the Jason Rich was the only presenter I saw that seemed to know how to use a computer to do a presentation... plenty others tried, but we'll not go there. He had a lot of good information that was well organized and well presented. One thing that was especially interesting was that self-publishing a book, won't preclude selling it later to one of the publishing houses. This is because self-published works can't get distribution in the major book-selling outlets like Borders, B Dalton and Barns and Noble. So, if you choose to go the self-publishing route, and you are able to market your book sufficiently to generate some good sales figures, then that might help get your book sold to a publisher. This, the presenter noted, was the only reason to go the self publishing route with fiction, since fiction is notoriously hard to sell and even harder to sell as a self-published novel.