Tag Archives: Jonathan Evison

AWP Seattle 2014: Day 1

This is my third year in a row attending AWP (Association of Writers & Writing Programs {yes, I know it should be AWWP}), and this year it is in Seattle, WA. The last three years it has been in my three favorite cities: Chicago, then Boston, and now, Seattle.

You call yourself a writer? AWP is a great time. As I said before, I’ve gone three years in a row, and I plan on continuing to go (See you next year, Minneapolis!). Why, you ask? Well, it’s a great place to meet writers face to face (I’ve shaken Benjamin Percy‘s manly hand a couple times), talk to publishers (journals and presses), and hopefully, learn more about the craft and business of creative writing.

Writing as business … Ha! That’s a good one. So, I’ve been to two panels thus far this morning. The first was on structuring a novel. I’m interested in this because I have tried (unsuccessfully) to write a few novels, and I want my MFA thesis to be a novel. I have an idea for a new one, but the talk was helpful. The presenters were a few novelists: Summer Wood, Amanda Boyden, Melissa Remark, and Joseph Boyden. They talked at length about thinking of forms like the three act play or the hero’s journey. A few of them recommended paying attention to movie plot structures as a sort of easy way to think about sustained stories. As a movie fan, this is extremely helpful advice for me, so next time I watch a great movie, I plan on keeping a notebook out to track the general structure.

The next panel I went to was called “Like Sand to the Beach: Bringing Your Book to Market.” The presenters in the panel were an editor from a small press (Jarret Middleton), a bookseller (Karen Maeda Allman), an expert on self-promotion and social media (Rachel Fershleiser), and a very quirky and interesting author who’s made it on self-promotion (Jonathan Evison). I love self-promotion. I love the internet. I suppose I don’t trust the idea that anyone will be as invested as I am about my thoughts and my work, and this panel laid out the process of bringing a book to market and finding a reader base. They kept stressing relationships, that times have changed, and we have to connect directly to readers.

I’m sure readers are happy enough not to find your work. It was an empowering panel. I say that because, though I love AWP, I find a lot of the panels to be rather useless. There are a lot of abstract and ungrounded thoughts (example: “write from your heart” sort of advice), and it’s great to see a well-organized and practical panel that gives me tools to immediately apply. For example, based on the last panel, I created a Tumblr account for myself. If you’re a Tumblr fan, feel free to follow me here. My blog posts will now show up there. But with that, I’ve been thinking a lot about building up my Twitter followers. So, if you feel like following me on Twitter, go here.

Yes, yes. Good, good. I gotta go home now. Alright, well, the moral of the story is this: if you’re a writer, think about coming to AWP. It’s worth it. It can be overwhelming or disappointing at times, but the experience, the panels, the bookfair, I mean … it’s worth it. Give it a shot. On to more panels …

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