This past week, I attended the four-day Women In Publishing virtual conference for the second year. It’s full of classes, networking, and learning about all the products and services available to writers. At the end of the fourth day, my brain was full, and my fun meter pegged.
The workshops were given by editors, marketing specialists, successful authors, business owners, and literary agents. I always learn something new or get exposed to new ideas and trends. It’s well worth my time and money to attend. Networking opportunities are fun because the conference is attended by women across the US, Canada, and Europe. Getting a half hour to visit with those women is amazing. Writers give off an aura that feeds other writers. We don’t have to explain this strange impulse to get stories out of our heads and onto paper. We understand each other.
One moment in the conference left me totally disheartened and ready to quit. In a workshop with two literary agents, they said most of the big 5 publishers want to know if authors “look good on TV.” They turn down manuscripts if the answer is no. They didn’t say this was “always” the case, but apparently it’s often enough to mention. As I think back, most of the newly released authors I’ve seen on TV lately are thin and nice looking so I wasn’t surprised; only dismayed. That leaves me completely out of getting traditionally published. It makes me mad. Furious actually.
During networking, I found several women who were over 50 and late bloomers like me. We decided to start a club called the Not Dead Yet Writers. We have a private group on Facebook and have been joined by sixty other late bloomers. None of us may ever get that big book deal, but it doesn’t mean we aren’t awesome. We can help each other out and encourage each other to keep at it.
Other than the ageism, it was great. I’m invigorated to change a few things I’m doing, mostly in the promotion and marketing department of my tiny business. Writing a book is hard work, but nothing like trying to promote it so that it’s noticed among the millions of others. That’s where most of the work lies, and I’m not good at it. I always welcome helpful hints.
I won’t quit writing, no matter how good or bad I might look on TV. The main thing is being able to write really well. Writing is what makes me happy, is who I am, and what I’m meant to do. So if you’ll excuse me, I have a short story to write and another one to edit before I get busy editing the first draft of my next book tentatively named Listen for the Crow.
But first … I need a nap.