Everything You Wanted to Know about Writing and Publishing in Two Days—at the Writing Conference last weekend



This last weekend I had the pleasure of attending and speaking at the Write and Publish your Book in 2012 conference held in Oakland, California, organized by Beth Barany. It was an intimate room full of people who attended all of the sessions—no breakout sessions, so we all learned, shared, and laughed together. From Catharine Bramkamp we learned about the publishing world, from traditional and agented work to the “old” form of self-publishing and then into the modern new world of Print on Demand through Create Space and Lightning Source, and the really brave—and successful—new world of eBooks. Whew—it’s dizzying but a lot of information indeed, and all of it was accurate and useful.


From Ezra Barany, we learned about how to optimize your book titles and website for SEO—which means Search Engine Optimization—which means: making yourself searchable by the little bots inside all those search engines.

On the second day, Beth Barany regaled us with inspirational moments and a presentation on how to enter the Social Media world and stay sane! There is so much to learn, but the way she puts it is like this. “I think of social media the way I do about going to a party—I hang out, get acquainted, exchange small talk and just learn about who’s there.” That makes it sound easy and friendly, doesn’t it.

The reason we need to go to that party is so that we can get found, known and seen. You DO want people to read your book, don’t you?

I talked about—guess what—memoir writing of course—How to Make your Book Irresistible to Readers—which is what we all want—readers to dive into our book and our message and be happy that they have been invited into our world. Most memoirs are inspirational and informative in some way. The way to think about your memoir is to ask:

What is my message, and who is the audience that really needs to know what I have to share?

The different elements of the conference worked together, so when we think about the message in our book, we begin to see how the keywords for the SEO will start to line up and we can imagine our audience on Twitter and Facebook.

5 Tips that Will Help You Get Your Book Written in 2012

The weekend included 20 minute complimentary coaching sessions, so I got to meet a lot of people who wanted to know how to get their book done.

  1. Create a list of significant turning points that will help you organize the important stories.
  2. Use this list to clarify your theme and message: Your theme will answer the question—what is this book about? What is the message that I’m delivering my readers?
  3. Write in any order your turning points—just freewrite quickly and get the first draft of these stories done. You can quilt them together later.
  4. Use sensual details to create a world for your reader that they will feel. These are: sight, sounds, smells, textures, and setting. Where are you, what time frame is your scene set in? What is happening with you and other people?
  5. Create a character list—yes, even though this is a memoir, you need to decide who the main players are, and who might need to be on the sidelines or just have a bit part. List the 5 most important people in your memoir and write character sketches.
  6. Bonus: Use photographs and research on the internet to help you create the world of your memoir.

Think about these questions and write in your journal: Are your characters fully fleshed out people? Do you use dialogue to convey character styles?

What are the 10 most significant moments in your life? Write them down now and see if that helps to clarify your plot and theme.