In ten days over nine thousand writers, editors, writing teachers, publishers and related professionals will converge on Chicago for the 2012 AWP conference. If you’re sitting with your laptop, feeling very alone with your creativity, try getting your head around that many people involved in the work of writing and publishing. The Chicago Hilton will be packed with small groups of us all doing what doesn’t come naturally—networking. The Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference is an important place to be, so important that the conference sold out in early January.
Three years ago, conference programming centered on craft and relationship building with editors or publishers as well as a hefty number of sessions for educators. There were a handful of sessions dealing with the growing reality of the publishing world—self-promotion for published writers. In 2012 programming has shifted dramatically toward the business of marketing and selling your brand and your books. One session best describes the state of publishing today: The End of the World as We Know It (But Some of Us Will be Fine). The Chicago Fire Department will probably force AWP to close the doors to the hall before half of those interested can claim an inch of seating space.
Tools may change, but the writing process remains intact—that focused creative work of a writer and their words. How the product is prepared for readers or offered to readers isn’t all that magical. The big challenge remains the same for most writers—how to make readers aware of new works. The channels are multiplying. Unfortunately resources aren’t doing the same. For many writers that’s the crux of the question: How to create presence in the wide array of media, and not have the marketing effort displace time needed to work on new materials. Hopefully others have some clues, lessons, techniques that will help my marketing strategy for Harvesting Ashwood: Minnesota 2037 this spring and summer.
Now, back to the 300+ page AWP program schedule. Hope to see you there.