Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Warts and all...

I think it will take me weeks to process everything I heard and discussed at the Spinning Gold Conference. I'm still trying to catch up on sleep even though I went to bed early and rose late while I was there. When everything on offer at a conference is so good and you listen so intently at each session and there are no free periods and the sessions that clash with the ones that you selected are also so good and you try and pick the brains of friends who attended those ones - well - its just plain exhausting. But the thing I liked best about the whole thing (apart from the socialising which was wonderful) was the honesty of it all.

I've been a bit troubled by the fact that some speakers disagreed directly with other speakers on how writers and illustrators should be approaching this crazy business. Some said focus on promotion, marketing, making use of new technologies and work to the market. Others said it is not the creatives job to promote or market (that is the job of the publisher), having an internet presence is unnecessary and create what is important to you, not what the market suggests. Then it dawned on me this morning that that is the nature of the business. Even the experts don't agree on how things are best created, published and sold. What works for me, may not work for you. Both ways may work or both may fail miserably. I'm sorry if this is all sounding a bit oblique. That is essentially what the publishing industry is like. The publishers panel during the conference was brutally honest and everyone looked a little pale and shaken after that session but I came away thinking that we were fortunate that the publishers were willing to tell it how it is. Even they disagreed at times on some fundamental issues, and I do believe some topics were avoided, but the undeniable impression for me at the end was how much all of these publishers loved childrens books and how much they fought for them and wanted good books to do well. A huge thank you to the publishing people who came and spoke to us, who braved the pitch slam and who showed where the heart is in the Childrens' Publishing business. And I am the better for all the speakers' willingness to say what they really think, to share what works for them and to not gloss over the less savoury aspects. I think these are the things that made the conference so great.

1 comment:

Judy said...

Hi Melinda
I agree it was an amazing conference with (almost)too much to think about - it'll take ages for it all to compost.
What I got was the writing has to be fantastic... but even then might not publish if it may not sell... so there's the conflict. Do you write for yourself or the /a market?; write for popularity ie for money or for prescence?; write what you feel or study the market, genre, word length, and the anomalous one - read what's been published and is in the marketplace. Then write something fresh and new that hits the mark.
The frank honesty of ALL the presenters was refreshing -it's a crowded marketplace so we all have to zing to be noticed, and that weekend hit my zinger button.
Cheers- Judy O'Connor