GVSU alum organizes publishing conference

Duane Emery

Tricia McDonald, a published author and Grand Valley State University alumna is sponsoring a conference to provide information and networking for potential authors.

Getting a book published can be an intimidating process. Even if an individual manages to finish writing one, many don’t know what to do with it other than sit back and wonder “what’s next?” The “Quit Whining Start Writing” conference looks to change that.

Participants will have the opportunity to learn from established authors, publishers, marketing experts and editors to take their writing careers to the next level.

The two-day event will feature 16 participation-driven workshops by 15 speakers. Topics will cover all stages of the publishing process, from writing in a particular genre, to creating an online presence to market successfully.

“We have poetry, memoir, young adult, children’s picture books, novel writing and non-fiction. We pretty much cover everything,” McDonald said.

There are a lot of factors that go into seeing your book in print. Workshops for the business side of things will range from choosing the right cover for your book, to different publishing options. There are many publishing options for new authors to consider, including traditional and self publishing, ebooks and literary journals. The publishing options workshop will explain the ins and outs of each type to help writers decide which is best for them.

“The whole publishing world is changing. It used to be that self published books looked like they were run off a xerox machine and the covers were done by first-graders,” McDonald said. She stressed that as self publishing grows, it opens up more opportunities for writers to be printed.

The conference hopes to give them the knowledge and options to see the process through to the end. “They have to be out marketing. We want writers to learn more about publishing their books,” she said.

One of the workshops, Website 101 for Authors, will be a step-by-step guide for creating and maintaining a website or blog.

“It will entail a process of the key things you need to do to have a successful website,” said Laura Holmes, who is running the workshop. As both a travel writer and a marketing expert, Holmes said her topic will bridge the gap between writing and marketing, but will mostly cover web presence.

“(Writers) can actually manage and create their own marketing platform via a website,” she said. “They need to walk away knowing that they need to be found online. That’s a building block. Getting them out there is really the important underlying message.”

Holmes joined the conference out of her belief that communication between writers is an important part of writing that many may miss out on.

“I’m always looking to network and hear ideas from other writers,” Holmes said. “It’s a way for me to learn and also to share.” She also said new writers should not feel intimidated to join in.

“It’s geared for really anybody, you don’t have to be a seasoned writer. You can be a complete beginner with an idea for a book who has no idea where to begin.”

“I think writing tends to be a solitary endeaver, most writers write alone. but that doesn’t mean we are solitary people,” McDonald said.

After graduating from GVSU, McDonald went on to self-publish her first book, “Life With Sally: Little White Dog Tails,” but found the process difficult.

“I helped one woman for a year work on her book,” she said. “She asked me if I would publish her book for her, I said absolutely not because it’s so much work.” She quickly changed her mind after realizing there was a need for a business that helped people self publish their books. She soon started Splattered Ink Press, which is sponsoring the conference.

While knowledge of the business side of writing is important to know, Mcdonald still stresses that the most important thing for a writer is to keep writing.

“The way you become a good writer is to write. It’s just like being a football player. Some guy doesn’t run out onto the field and he plays, he’s out there practicing and practicing.” She said writing can be difficult for many, who struggle with a first draft from fear of failure.

“Perfection is a big block, once you get rid of that block you open up that creativity. Just play with it, just have fun with it,” she said.

The Quite Whining Start Writing conference will be held on Saturday, Oct. 18 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Seidman Center at GVSU with a meet and greet on Friday, Oct. 17. The deadline to register for the event is September 1. For more information about the conference, go to www.splatteredinkpress.com/writers-conference-2014.