It’s my pleasure to announce that the six bestselling authors who co-operate the Superstars Writing Seminar — Kevin J. Anderson, Rebecca Moesta, Eric Flint, David Farland (Wolverton), Brandon Sanderson, and Sherrilyn Kenyon — have re-launched their web site, in preparation for their third annual event in Las Vegas, April 2012.
I’ve previously blogged here on this page about the workshops and classes I’ve done in the past. Twice I’ve been out to Lincoln City to participate in the wonderful professional short fiction and novel workshops run by Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. I’ve also been to Los Angeles for the excellent Writers of the Future workshop. I’ve been to Life, The Universe & Everything, both as a fan and want-to-be-writer, and then again as a published panelist.
Each time I go to one of these learning nexuses — because that’s what they are — I wind up having an entirely new experience that illuminates for me some hidden or unexpected reality about the business of professional fiction. Which is why I’ve chosen to keep pursuing these opportunities, sometimes at significant cost. Because for many years I refused to do such workshops, figuring I’d do them when I’d earned enough from writing to have “extra” in my pocket, with which I could afford such “luxuries.”
That was pure foolishness on my part. I was trying to sail my ship in a sealed bottled. You can’t navigate the seas of professional fiction writing without solid information to guide you in your craft as well as your business. And while you could spend hundreds of dollars on “how to be a writer” books, you’d not get even half the value you can get from even a few hours spent sitting and listening to bestselling professionals tell you about how they did it — and how they still keep doing it. Their lessons learned, their mistakes, their cautionary tales. And of course their encouragement.
When I did the “Kris and Dean Show” two-day weekend workshop in 2009, it really knocked me for a loop — sent me far outside my comfort zone. I had a lot of myths debunked, and I started to look at my writing and the whole enterprise of fiction in an entirely new light. I still credit Kris Rusch and Dean Smith for being the people who got me back on track after years of futility.
Superstars promised to be a “next level” workshop — something I could sink my teeth into as a published new guy. Beyond craft, it was purposely designed to be a 100% business and lifestyle-focused seminar. No round-robin critiques. No ripping apart manuscripts. Just hours and hours of brass-tacks data and conversation about what it takes to not just be a writer, but a bestselling professional writer. The kind of writer who consistently hits the New York Times list and makes lots of money while doing what most of us still consider to be a dream job: writing for a living.
I was not disappointed. It was exactly as Kevin J. Anderson had said it would be, when he brought it up with me at Writers of the Future in 2010. It was like all the best parts of the WOTF workshop, but blown up and expanded to an entire three-day table-running marathon of information: contracts, royalties, sales pitches, self-promotion, e-publishing vs. paper publishing, the pitfalls of same, and so much more.
And of course, as is almost always the case with these kinds of things, some of the best learning was the learning that didn’t happen during the structured time. If ever you’ve been to a convention or sat and listened to an author speak, but were too afraid to go up and introduce yourself and ask questions or say hello, Superstars gives you every opportunity to meet and mingle with all of the panelists. All of whom have been doing what they’re doing for years and years, and are able to give a variety of valuable perspectives on practically any kind of writing-business question you might be able to come up with.
Before I left the 2011 Superstars Seminar, I bought the MP3 for the 2010 seminar, so that I could re-listen to everything that had been part of the structured portions of the event — and let the information re-circulate in my brain. I’ve done this for the last week now, re-listening to at least two hours of the workshop per day. Remembering all the in-between-panels discussions I had with the authors and the other attendees. And being reminded again that to make it in the business you really do have to dedicate yourself to it as a lifetime project. It’s not a game for dilettantes. Nobody becomes a bestseller by being a hobbyist. At some point you have to push other things in your life aside and determine for yourself that you’re going to do it and make it. Whatever else happens. Let nothing get in your way. Log the hours. Never give up. Ever.
If you feel like you’re needing that level of kick-in-the-butt professional wisdom, I highly, highly recommend Superstars Writing Seminar. It measured up admirably against the previous experiences I’d had in Lincoln City and Los Angeles, and in fact complimented them so nicely that I felt like Superstars was a magnificent addition to — not a re-hashing of — my existing knowledge. Many thanks to everyone who helped make 2011 possible, and I hope everyone reading this — who want to be professional writers — will click the link and look at the seminar. Even if you can’t attend — it is an investment, no question — they sell the DVDs from the previous seminars, and MP3 as I have purchased. It’s a great way to reboot your brain if you’ve been stuck in the doldrums with your writing, or are feeling otherwise confused or baffled about how it’s all supposed to work.