Saturday, June 4, 2011

Emerging Writers Festival Part 1

So last week was a bit crazy, because not only did I attend a day of Reading Matters, I also bought a ticket to the Emerging Writers Festival weekend programme at Melbourne Town Hall. I went to the festival last year and really enjoyed it (I took heaps of notes but never not around to sharing them on here .... idiot). This year, I decided I wasn't going to try and squish everything in and instead was a bit more selective in which panels I'd go to, based on speakers and the session themes. I have to say I got a lot more out of it this year (I think after two mammoth days last year, I got to the end of it and was completely wiped out).
Here's a quick run-down on my day one (Saturday) sessions.

Going Global

Panelists: Kristin Cashore, Chris Morphew, Luke Devenish and Julian Leyre
I initially picked this session because Kathy Charles (who y'all know I adore) was going to be on the panel, though alas, she was not there! Ah well. The panel was about selling your work overseas and success with a global audience. Now for some dot points:
  • Luke Devenish talked about his transition in writing for theatre, to writing for Neighbours (an Australian institution haha) which changed his mindset about writing for a more commercial audience. He started thinking about stories as "consumerable products" and characters as "marketable types".
  • Whilst writing about Ancient Rome at night, Luke discovered the 'magic formula' of writing: sex + death = winner! Luke's Empress of Rome novels have been published internationally and were a runaway hit in Russia!
  • Kristin Cashore is the author of Graceling and Fire, both of which have been published in more than 30 languages. Kristin spoke predominantly about her experience in dealing with foreign publishers (in that mostly, she doesn't have much to do with them and that the sub-rights to her works are managed by her agent).
  • German, UK/ANZ (Australia and New Zealand), French, Italian, Spanish and Dutch are the biggest publishers of her foreign editions. She mentioned that in the German edition, they made her change the name 'Po' as it translates to 'butt' in German haha.
  • What I thought was interesting, was that Kristin spoke about the way her books are marketed different around the world. In the US, Graceling and Fire are very much YA books, but she felt that in the UK and Australia, they are marketed as more of a crossover with adult fantasy. Kristin also spoke about some of the different covers of her books, and the way they reflect the different way the book is marketed.
  • Chris Morphew wrote 12 books in the Zac Power series and is also the author of The Phoenix Files. He admitted he's not really involved in the overseas selling of his work, that's is predominantly handled by his publisher (who has a specific person who manages sub-rights).
  • I didn't really know much of the history behind Zac Power, so I was surprised to learn that it was a concept created by Hardie Grant Edgmont, and a number of different authors have written for the series under the pseudonym H.I Larry.
  • Chris spoke about the way Book Depository has changed the global marketplace and because of online sales, his books can reach other markets. He also commented that social networking and online presence has helped make his books more accessible to new overseas markets.
  • Julian Leyre spoke about Australian stories competiting in a global market and whether or not writing 'Australian' stories limits our international appeal. Julian also said a lot of other things, but I stopped taking notes as I was enjoying listening to his lovely French accent :)

Writing about TV
with Ben Pobjie (Saturday Age) and Jess McGuire (Defamer). This was more like a fun conversation than the panel style, so I only jotted down a couple of points:
  • Jess spoke a lot about Pants Off, Dance Off - which I'd never heard about and sounds freaking hilarious.
  • There was some talk about free-view (in Australia) and the way the new channels could give an opportunity for new shows to be made (and by being on one of the sub-channels, there's less pressure to be an instant success) and would allow them to develop an audience. It would also allow us to make smaller, more interesting, niche shows.
  • Jess and Ben also spoke about the way the concepts of high and low culture have shifted and TV no longer being considered such a lowly medium (with a lot of actors now moving to work in TV, when previously it was seen as a downwards step in their career) thanks to US cable networks like HBO, Showtime and AMC.

with Philip Thiel and Jessica Au

I was surprised that this session was scheduled in the smallest room at Melbourne Town Hall as I had thought it would be a hugely popular session, and surprise, surprise, it was (the room was packed to standing room only!). I went because I was interested in hearing more about other peoples' blogging stories, and also because I saw Philip Thiel speak at the Festival last year and he's fantastic. Here's a summary of some of the discussion from the afternoon:

  • Philip spoke about writing on Livejournal (where he still blogs) and about some of his different challenges (for those of you who haven't read Philip's blog, which is awesome by the way, he has a theme each year. Last year, he kissed a person every day, this year he reads the I-Ching). He commented that when he first started writing on Livejournal, he felt uninteresting and that his blogging was a way to bring attention to himself.
  • Jessica Au has blogged for Meajin and talked about blogging as a marketing tool and what it was like to blog for an organisation (as opposed to a more personal style of blogging like Philip's).
  • Blog readers are becoming more selective with what they read, and that to write a blog that people keep coming back to, you need be to passionate about what you write.
  • There was a lot of discussion about finding your audience (as a blogger) and that good content keeps people coming back (and will attract new readers by word of mouth), as well as the use of twitter (in my stats, twitter is one of my biggest sources of blog traffic) and the benefits of guest posts and cross-posting can help grow your readership. Also commenting on blogs similar blogs to yours (and meaningful comments, not spam!) will also help make connections and attract new readers.
  • The value of blogging (the monetary side) was also briefly discussed and the question of whether or not bloggers should be paid came up (to a mixed response). What I think is most interesting are the non-financial benefits of blogging (friendships, new opportunities) and the way for some, blogging has acted as a gateway to other things.
  • Sam of Little Girl with A Big Pen also posted a wrap-up of the Blogging session here.
I'll post my write-up of Day 2 shortly. You can learn more about the Emerging Writers Festival (which ended today) at their website.


littlegirlwithabigpen said...

Thanks for the mention! And great wrap-up :)

Miss Friday said...

You're welcome Sam - I think your post was a lot of insightful and articulate haha

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