By Porter Anderson | @Porter_Anderson
From March 1, 2012
Part of my series of columns on publishing, Writing on the Ether, appearing Thursdays through the kind (and brave) benevolence of Jane Friedman at JaneFriedman.com
AWP: Literature and long lines
Once more into the breeches, I swear, I’m reminded of a pageant as AWP arrives today for its sit-down engagement in Chicago.
The conference tweet-storm, of course, already is windier than the city, and you can follow it at hashtag #AWP12. Or – to spare your Twitter client dashboard – you can watch the tweets auto-refresh on my site’s “ConfabWorld” homepage, PorterAnderson.com
The Association of Writers and Writing Programs seems to progress in tableaux, like an old Paul Green outdoor drama. Everybody takes up their positions at podium and panel for 75 minutes, up to 23 sessions at a time. And then, as if the lights on stage had been doused and the music had come up, everybody changes room and session – not costume, normally, but who knows? — and is discovered in a new 75-minute setting, the next scene in the pageant-wagon’s progress down Michigan Avenue, as it were.
The event has an understandably disjointed air to it, too, because the conference is so big – with more than 9,000 attendees last year and a sold-out sign this year – that it’s staged in the vast convention facilities of both the Hilton Chicago and the Palmer House. There are some 550 publishers, presses, and journals in its Bookfair alone.
There’s a third major venue this time, the beautiful if hardly intimate Auditorium Theatre at Roosevelt University. Its size – where are the Rockettes when we need them? — is required to seat the plenary for Margaret Atwood‘s much anticipated keynote.
And because one challenge of this writing conference is bringing together the scholarly interests of its campus-based program, it might be worth a quick listing of some of the more business-of-writing session on offer this time. By no means comprehensive, here is just a selective look for writers whose goals include going beyond the glories of the page to the realities of the stage in today’s digitally transformed publishing world. (The codes at the beginning of each session title are those assigned each session by the hardworking AWP staff. Use those to search out a session and find its day, time, and location.)
R175. The Tech-Empowered Writer: Embrace New Media, Experiment, and Earn. 1:30CT Thursday, March 1. — A special note here to point out that this key panel includes Ether host Jane Friedman; Christina Katz (you know her as @thewritermama, author of The Writer’s Workout); San Francisco-based author Seth Harwood; and Georgia-based author and editor Robert Lee Brewer. I highly recommend this one, it’s #PorterEndorsed – here’s a special preview of the session from Friedman, no flight to O’Hare required.
In listing some other sessions that relate to less-pedagogical, more industry-directed topics, I can’t offer endorsements, but can tell you that the descriptions of what’s to be covered are hitting some of the right notes.
- R113. New Media for New (and Old) Authors and Writers
- R161. Behind the Scenes of Implementing a Successful iPad and Tablet Publishing System
- R171. Prettying Up the Baby: Publishing Creative Nonfiction in a Challenging Market
- R221. What about Blog?: How Blogging Can Propel Your Career and Polish Your Craft
- R234. Only Connect—How to Create New Opportunities through Networking
- F119. Literature and the Internet in 2012
- F164. Robert Gover: A Life of Radical Realism
- F193. Working Process: Editor and Writer
- F241. The Literati: Deconstructing Publishing Myths for Writers
- S103. Connecting with Readers via Your Website and Social Media
- S158. The Art of Collaboration: Writers, Artists, and Editors on Marrying Visual Art and Text
- S236. Why Independent Publishers Matter / Independent Publishers and the Changing Industry
It may be that traditional publishers have less to fear from the digital revolution than they think. Perhaps they should embrace it.
That’s author Anthony Horowitz in a talk written up by the Guardian and headlined Do we still need publishers? There’s some admirable candor here, as when Horowitz talks of his publisher Orion putting out “my Sherlock Holmes novel, The Mouse of Slick [actually, The House of Silk] with no fewer than 35 proof-reading errors.”
“Everywhere,” says Horowitz, “publishers are being squeezed out.”
But I have become convinced that writers feel — I said feel — easily as “squeezed out,” if not more so, than traditional publishers do.
And I’d like to offer for your consideration, a more formal call for industry-class conferences for writers than I’ve made in the past.
And let me know what you think. I’m enormously ping-able on Twitter at @Porter_Anderson and, of course, our comments area is your comments area.
I also touch on this material in the wide-ranging interview Matt Gartland did with me, Curing Author Ignorance, out this week at Winning Edits. (And for a good time, check the many wise comments of our colleagues on my weekend post about the author’s online persona for Writer Unboxed, “Social Media: Wishing You Were You.” Don Maass was in particularly wry form.)
A lot of what I’m saying in the DBW piece isn’t far from Horowitz’s conclusion when he looks at publishers and at authors today — in their strained and frequently estranged situation — and says:
Are we in intensive care? I don’t know. But if we are, I’m strangely relieved that we’re there together.