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The ACPL's author fair puts local and regional writers in the spotlighte ACPL

By Gloria Diaz

Fort Wayne Reader

2013-10-31


If you've ever had an image of writers as being reclusive, hunching over their keyboards, typing their little hearts out, you'd probably be right. Writing is one of those things people usually do by themselves. Several famous writers drink with their buddies, but it's rare that you see two or more writers collaborate on a novel. On non-fiction, yes, but not novels. And yes, a lot of writers drink alone.

But these writers do get out occasionally, and you'll be able to meet them at the Allen County Public Library's Author Fair, scheduled for Saturday, November 9, from noon to 4 p.m. There will be panel discussions, including one on non-fiction and ebook publishing. The panel discussions will be in meeting room B, with one every hour, at noon, 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. At 4 p.m., Michael Martone will give a special presentation in Meeting room A.

There are some notable names among the 62 attendees (so far — there may be more) that are coming this year. Helen Frost, author of SALT: A Story of Friendship in a Time of War, will be here, along with Michael Martone, creative writing instructor at the University of Alabama, and the author of Four For a Quarter and Michael Martone. Ken Leland, from Canada, who came to ACPL to do research, wrote a book called 1812: The Land Between Flowing Waters. Ralph Garcia wrote an autobiography about growing up in the Gary/East Chicago area, called Harbor Knight: From Harbor Hoodlum to Honored CIA Agent. Local sports journalist Blake Sebring, author of The Lake Effect, The Biggest Mistake I've Never Made, Tales of the Komets,'Legends of the Komets and Live From Radio Rinkside: The Bob Chase Story, will be at the fair. Susie Duncan Sexton, a native of Columbia City, is the author of Secrets of an Old Typewriter: Stories From a Smart and Sassy Small Town Girl, is coming as well. Some authors are from the Indianapolis area, some from South Bend, Ohio, and Michigan.

Those checking out the fair will find an assortment of genres: children/young adult, autobiography, sports, cooking, plays/skits, history, fiction, non-fiction, short story collections and erotic fiction. The Bookmark will have a table set up, and will be selling books from participating authors, enabling writers to interact with fans without having to worry about making change from book sales.

Linda Chapman and Megan Bell, who both work in Reader's Services, are in charge of this year's fair. They would like authors to know they can still participate if they haven't registered yet. “People can still register, and get a table. There's still room for more,” says Chapman.

The authors who responded to my questions have a range of writing experience from as long as they can remember to 65 years or more. There's a mix of published authors and self-published authors.

Lest you think that being self-published doesn't count (at least one author interviewed feels that way) feel free to Google Amanda Hocking and Jim Goad. Hocking is the nursing home employee turned writer who sent her work to the New York publishing houses, only to be turned down by each and every one of them. She self-published her work on Amazon.com, sent her work to book bloggers, and in a short time, became a millionaire. THEN the major publishing houses came calling.

Goad, a graduate from Temple University, wrote high-dollar articles for major publications (Playboy being among them), but was infuriated with the way his pieces were being edited. They ended up being bland instead of sharp. Fed up, he and his wife Debbie self-published their thoughts about the world in the 'zine “Answer Me!” In the four years they published, the friendless misanthropes received mail from readers in all fifty states and a dozen foreign countries. And the 'zine became the target of an obscenity trial, helped convince three British youths to commit suicide, and inspired Francisco Martin Duran to take on the White House with an SKS rifle. Think about that. Words are powerful, self-published or not.

But there's the flip side of it. If anyone can publish with just a few clicks of a computer button, does that cheapen the idea of publishing? Does that mean there will be even more boring and downright low-quality work available? Yes, but it also will open the doors to writers who want nothing more than to see their words in print, or want to tell a story that major (and minor) publishing houses claim isn't “marketable.”

And for independent (self-published or in one author's words “printing”) authors, one problem remains: how to market oneself. If you're not made of money, you have to figure out low-cost ways to get the world out. But doing that takes away from writing. So that's why lots of writers hope for a book deal from a major publisher, in order to get someone else to help with the publicity.

Several writers had plenty to say regarding the questions I asked them. Here are a few of their responses:

On trying to get a book deal:

“Those seeking an agent or publishing deal should keep focused on their writing and not think that they will hit the big-time quickly. It is hard work, not only the writing, but the marketing as well.” Ralph Garcia, author of Harbor Knight: From Harbor Hoodlum to Honored CIA Agent.

“Don't give up hope.” J. J. Keller, author of Pippa's Rescue.

“Persevere. Never let rejection stop you, no matter how much it hurts. Pick yourself up and dust yourself off, and find people who can help you improve your writing until it is at the level in needs be. Everyone can always improve, no matter what stage they are at in their careers.” Anna Lee Huber, author of The Anatomist's Wife.

“Don’t ever give up. Read every book and blog you can find on querying. There is a lot of good information out there. Try to learn from your mistakes. Don’t query every agent you can find all at once. Query in batches and gauge the responses you get. Then analyze and tweak your query based on those responses (or non-responses.)” Nicholas Benedict, author of My Mommy is a Zombie.

On marketing their work:

“Marketing, that's the problem. Writers, especially self-published authors like myself, are expected to spend enormous amounts of time promoting their work. If that's the case, when do we ever get the time to actually write?” Stephan Loy, author of Last Days and Times.

“Many think that self-publishing is the 'easy' way to go. However, although self-publishing can be rewarding, it can also be very time-consuming and requires a strong dedication to promoting your work.” Barry Gray, author of The Revenge of Esther Norman.

“It can be very difficult to build a platform and earn a living as a writer, especially when compared to something like practicing law or even teaching. I’m not particularly interested in writing what sells, but at the same time, the only way to make money is to sell what you write. So for me the most difficult aspect of being a writer is to sell without selling out.” Laurie Gray, author of Summer Sanctuary.

On how much time they devote to writing:

“My normal writing work week is seven days a week. I get up at five a.m. and begin writing at six. I don’t eat breakfast or lunch as they take up writing time and I usually quit writing at six or seven p.m. when I eat supper, watch a little TV or read and then go to bed at nine.” Les Edgerton, author of The Death of Tarpons.

“I only write a play or two a year. I can pop out a fairy tale parody skit in an hour, but a new full length work can take two months.” Jeannette Jaquish, author of Dr. Frankenstreudel's Lemon Fresh Laboratory of Horrors.

“I try to work on my book several hours each day. I truly enjoy wring. A labor of love.” Carl Bernard Huesing, author of The Trouble with Cass--A Civil War Era Murder Mystery.

On epublishing/print on demand and how it will affect writers:

“I am glad that the self-publishing industry is available because I was able to publish my book. My primary objective was not to make money but to inspire girls and boys through telling Genois’ story and to honor her and the role she played in history here in our community. Win-win!” Carol Butler, author of Genois Wilson, Firefighter: She Dared to be First.

“I don't know how to predict how the epublishing will affect the book market.” Naida Kirkpatrick, author of Adventure at Lookout Farm.

“I believe the surrender of regular publisher to “self publishing” forfeits the community of the writer’s critique.” Rober Leas, author of Anton Boisen: His Life, Work, Impact, and Theological Legacy

“It should be an asset to writers as this a cost effective way to do business.” John J. Foster, author of Me and C Colors.

“I think as it is now we are still finding out how print on demand and epublishing will change the publishing industry. I believe we go too far on either end of the continnum. When epublishing and print on demand came out many said they would take over print books, but that hasn't been the case. I think the process is still in flux, and those who are coming out on top are the places that are able to house the traditional and new technological ways to sell books.” Curtis Crisler, author of Tough Boy Sonatas.

“I never tried to get a publisher. I was driven to write, illustrate, publish, and market on my own.” Bonnie Manning, author of The Dog Who Owned a Photographer.

“I sent a query letter to about 20 agents and the same number of publishers. Some actually bothered to send rejection letters. In the course of that effort I learned that the publishing industry had done a miserable job in its role as gatekeeper and dearly deserved the comeuppance it was about to get from electronic publishing.” Forrest Bowman Jr., author of A Patriot's Peril.

“I believe it will open the doors for many to have dreams realized. I also think it will be more difficult for a book to become a national best seller without the backing of a big publishing house, an agent or media frenzy.” Mark Carboni, author of Cookin' With Friends.

“I just had my one and only book put on Kindle/Amazon and Create Space hardback. This is because I am a playwright who local theater patrons will recognize as the writer of Althea's Well, lst place last year at the Civic as well as A Christmas Key, several years ago for the All For One Theater.” Ruth Baker, author of Half a World Away.

“Everyone has a story! Now more talented writers will have the ability to share their work with the world. The Big Publishing houses are already paying more attention to the independent writer. “It's all good!” Cheri Hallwood, author of One Wish for Winnifred Witch.

“It has already changed the publishing industry. It has given independent writers, editors, artists, and designers a lot more opportunity to get their work out there.” Paula Ashe, author of Mater Nihil.

“I do not feel qualified to give an opinion at this time, though I believe there will always be people who will want hard cover copies for their libraries as opposed to those that prefer ebooks.” James Emch, author of All But Forgotten.

“I think that many, as yet unrecognized, authors will have a niche in published books available on-line. After all, Kindle and iPads are wonderful tools for those who enjoy reading a good novel, but don't have the time or the space for hard-bound books. It's a win-win situation.” Barbara Baker, author of Pete On Ice.

“I think e-books are the future and will change publishing dramatically.” Eric Braun, author of Phenomenal Food, 70 Easy Recipes From the Heart of a Chef .

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Sidebar: Panel Discussions
All discussions will take place in Meeting Room B.

Noon-12:50 p.m.--Writing For Children. Moderator: Mary Voors. Panelists: Carol Butler, Helen Frost, Naida Kirkpatrick and Kayleen Reusser.

1-1:50 p.m.--Writing For Teens. Moderator: Ian McKinney. Panelists: Curtis Crisler, Helen Frost, Laurie Gray and Kekla Magoon.

2-2:50 p.m.--From Cooking to Sports and More: Writing Non-Fiction. Moderator: Linda Chapman. Panelists: Mark Carboni, Blake Sebring, Susie Sexton and Ralph Garcia.

3-3:50 p.m.--Tips on E-publishing. Moderator: Nancy Saff. Panelists: Gloria Diaz, J. J. Keller, Jerry and Sandra Vohs and Kyan Yauchler.

4:00—A Conversation With Michael Martone, winner of the 2013 Indiana Author Award.

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