I went to a great book signing/panel on Saturday night in Columbia, SC. There were five great authors, Rachel Aaron, John Hartness, Faith Hunter, Kalayna Price and Misty Massey. As I was late(yet again), I was one of the standers in the back until I snagged a seat for the last panel on writing.
At the beginning they discussed their books and how they got their ideas to write them. There was also a question/ answer segment. Some of the highlights from this segment were:
1) Make your characters sweat.
2) Put twist on classical folklore and look up references that your favorite authors use. Kalayna uses Thomas Keightley and Katharine Briggs.
3) Put all your secrets (great ideas) in the first book if you can and don't horde them for sequels.
4) In order not to copy others, set aside the genre you plan on writing in and read other types of fiction.
5) Writing that's too new or too out there, won't typically sell. You have to have material that's relatable to your readers in some way. Winning formula is the same but different.
After the signing they discussed Publishing. Most comments came from John Hartness who is mostly self-published but also has a traditional pub. book as well. Highlights are as follows:
1) Don't self-pub because of impatience.(John)
2) Always keep in contact with your agent.(Faith)
-don't burn bridges in New York
-in NY you normally have 1 to 3 books to make-it or break-it
3) You want an agent/editor who loves your book.
4) Covers make a huge difference.
5) If self-pubbing always pay for a developmental editor and cover artist.
6) Don't edit forever, shove the book out.
7) If self-pubbing, put yourself out there, ie blog tours, con stops, etc.
8) People have to find you on the internet. If someone else has your name, consider writing under a pseudo. Web presence is key.
Each author gave one piece of writing advice.
Faith-BIC or butt in chair
Misty-No one right way to write
Kalayna-Read, read, read
John-Turn off email while writing
Rachel-If blocked, back up and try a different route
They discussed pantsing vs. plotting and plotting for the most part seemed to work best for them.
Rachel briefly discussed her method for increasing her word count from 2k to 10k a day. I highly recommend reading this. Increasing word count
Overall it was a great evening and I learned a lot. I also met fellow MW betas Emily and Sarah and a very nice writer, Melody.