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This is my old blog, which I no longer update. Feel free to browse around old posts and such, but the much more recent version of my ramblings are to be found at MarilynAnneCampbell.com

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Thoughts on the Humber College Workshop "An Insider's Guide to Getting Published"

This week I was at the Humber College Lakeshore Campus in South Etobicoke for a two-day workshop on how to get published. Although there was some content on U.S. and International sales and agents, the focus was very definitely on the publishing industry here in Canada, which was the main reason I finally signed up.

I say finally because I was back and forth about whether or not I should spend the money. I noticed the course was coming up last week and thought the content looked pretty good, but with currently tight finances the nearly $350 fee was daunting. I've done a lot of research into the business aspect of writing on my own, so I was worried I'd be paying to hear things I already knew. But my cheerleading squad were all for the idea (thanks mom and Steve!) so I took the plunge with an eye to the "I want to be a Canadian writer" content I rarely find online.

CanCon notwithstanding, I should have known what the real value was going to be based on the workshop's name, "An Insider's Guide to Getting Published". Workshop leader Cynthia Good, current director of Humber's Creative Book Publishing program, was with Penguin Canada for many years and thus was actually the one on the receiving end of countless queries. She gave us specific tips, was happy to answer any questions and also said a whole lot about what would really annoy an editor just by her reaction to questions or the emphasis she would put on certain points. I have a had a growing list of small but annoying questions I could never find the answer to in books or online, and over the two days Cynthia answered them all. She even gave her feedback on our first-attempt query letters! Then one afternoon was spent with Jennifer Murray who did marketing with Penguin Canada and Kids Can Press, and had just as much specific, practical information on how books actually get sold and what writers can be doing to help that happen.

Another great thing about the class was that we were a small group (under twenty) which made for a nice atmosphere and let us get to know a bit about each other's projects. I'm certainly eager to hear who does get their book published and I'm sure many - if not all - will (I also have a feeling who will be first... Patricia, I'm looking at you).

I'd recommend the class to anyone who is fairly well along in their manuscript. I still have a lot of editing to do, but I wish I'd been ready to apply what I'd learned the second I walked out the door. That said, some people who weren't even sure what form their manuscript was going to take seemed to get a far better sense just by learning about the publishing/marketing end of things. So it could be helpful if you're at the other extreme, too.

Of course now that I've spent the money, I'm even more motivated to finish this current project and get it out into the world. And for me, added motivation to finish is never a bad thing.

  • Check out Humber's workshops, events and classes - including their well-respected correspondance program - on the Humber School for Writers website. (Watch your sound level if you don't want your boss to know you're browsing - a welcome video plays automatically)

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