This past weekend I went to my first writers conference. The New England chapter of the Romance Writers of America held their conference at the Boston Marriott in Burlington MA. While I am not a romance writer I had heard that they were an open and welcoming group, which I found to be completely true. The sessions I attended were excellent and I had a full day without feeling like I had to sit through a "romance" specific session. Thank you to everyone for a great conference.
One of my big take aways was from author Marie Force. If you're not familiar with her work you can find her on the New York Times best seller list and a few recent articles on indie publishing. I attended two sessions that Marie presented, a late Friday session on the state of the wild west of self publishing and a session on the keys to creating an engaging series. In both sessions she talked about doing things for her readers. They weren't after thought comments or asides. She writes her stories and her series the way she does because that's what her readers want.
It may be true of all writers conferences but every session, every presenter had a comment and joke about the rules of writing and publishing. Words of caution and tales of woe were met with knowing nods as the writers spoke about their experiences with the traditional world of publishing. You can't choose your covers, you don't get to pick your title and you must rewrite to fit the style your editor wants to publish. Submissions, rejections and bad contract offers were as common as plotting, character development and point of view discussion.
I got some great tips about writing a compelling first sentence and crafting a meaningful title. One session taught me about the use of setting as a character. But the day and a half I spent there taught me that the traditional approach to publishing is about rules, restrictions and following along.
The new approach is about telling stories and delivering them for your readers. I like the new approach. I've already started telling my stories, and I look forward to having readers to write for.