Sponsorship At Writers’ Conferences: A Question of Awareness

20150415_140543‘People Are Trying To Make Money From You’

At The Bookseller this week, author Isabel Losada is blogging for us about her experiences as a writer here at London Book Fair.

Not surprisingly, much of her focus is on the Author HQ program(me) with which London has led the way in attracting and welcoming authors into the big trade show’s rough-and-tumble world, beginning three years ago with Authoright’s presentation there of Author Lounge.

In her Thursday piece for us, An author at LBF: Not for the faint-hearted, Losada writes:

Some small publishers offer no advances and some large publishers offer no advances, and now crowd-funding publishers offer authors the chance to become fund-raisers with the added attraction of no advances. Even the advice “Buyer Beware” has been reversed; this is “Seller Beware”.

Authors were warned: “People are trying to make money from you”. But they didn’t even mean the writing. They meant the other industry of all the people who will charge to tell you what to do next.

Isabel Losada
Isabel Losada

She’s right. And in author-facing conferences this year it seems — by my completely subjective count — that we’re seeing more and more such “people who will charge you to tell you what to do next” sitting on panels onstage.

I think the time has come to have a few words about this. It’s my provocation for you today. And the trickiest part for me to get across to you is that there is nothing wrong with sponsorship at writers’ conferences; the question is in how we communicate those sponsorships — or don’t — to attendees.

Because I don’t love being misquoted, I’m going to repeat myself: There is nothing wrong with sponsorship at writers’ conferences. 

Thanks. Moving on.

‘It’s Like My Head Is Going To Explode’


Provocations image by Liam Walsh
Provocations image by Liam Walsh

If you’re a journalist, you’ll know that “It sounded like a freight train came through here” is the line you get after every major natural disaster. Hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes seem to sound like something on rails to victims cornered by television camera crews and asked (why do we ask?) what it was like.

At writers’ conferences, you don’t hear as much about boxcars but you can depend on hearing one line: “It’s like my head is going to explode.” The person who tells you this is normally listing to port, lugging a heavy tote bag filled with promotional literature and tchotchkes from various sponsors of the conference.

  • Maybe  there’s that not-at-all-cute big eraser advertising an editorial service: “We Make Your Mistakes Disappear!” (I wish.)
  • Or a pack of multi-colored Post-Its printed with an ebook platform’s logo: “A Rainbow Of Formats For Your Ebook!” (Sure.)
  • Perhaps even that odd foam-rubber book I was given at one of these affairs. I have yet to understand the value of a foam-rubber book. It might have some dark-genre purpose we don’t want  to think about too much. (I’ve been trying to slip it into somebody else’s tote bag for months.)

As that freight train of disruption chugs through the  mind of the writing-conference-goer, how clear is he on what he’s hearing from speakers in each session? Does that noggin-near-poppin’ understand that some of the people on the podium have paid to be there? Does our tote-toting attendee know a sponsored speaker from his asterisks?

I hope you’ll join us both for #FutureChat and for IndieReCon, which is hashtagged just that, #IndieReCon.

Read More

By Porter Ander­son

Writer Unboxed:  Sponsorship At Writers’ Conferences: A Question of Awareness

Read the full post at: Writer Unboxed



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