Yesterday I was lucky enough to be one of the fifty new authors who attended a Masterclass, presided over by Daniel Wells, owner and founder of Biblioasis, a publishing company which runs out of Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Advertised as a “Writer’s Studio Round Table,” the event was hosted at the Holiday Inn by the Kingston Writer’s Fest, in a room half filled with chairs lined up for the audience and a podium at the front. I learned a lot: here are the highlights.
Mr. Wells, Dan as he likes to be called, came off as personable and approachable. Indeed, he allowed for about half of the allotted time as a Q & A, the “Qs” coming from us, a subdued and awed crowd of 99% (traditionally) unpublished authors of various genres. Dan spoke about the role of a publisher in the relationship between writer and printer/flogger. He gave us tips on how to get noticed by people in his field of expertise. First, (and I had an idea of this) he told us that a whopping 90-odd percent of his writers were NOT people who sent in queries out of the blue. He explained that he found most of his authors via the literary magazines in which they’d been featured and via recommendations by the authors whose work he has already published. For me this put in perspective how important it is to get my work out there – really get my work out there, not just here on WordPress and other social media sites. Having said that, the second point he brought up that I want to mention here is the fact that a publisher does take into consideration how much networking an author does. A majority of a publisher’s work goes into promoting his books – no publisher in this age of networking and social media wants an author who will simply sit back and hope for the best. Dan strongly advised that we immerse ourselves in the communities for which we write. Get to know people, writers and readers alike, and gain contacts.
Dan spoke about self-publishing as well. He mentioned the “gatekeeper” theory that if a book is traditionally published it stands to be of better quality than if self-published. He said this isn’t necessarily true, but that what it comes down to is a matter of trust in the community at large. For instance, if he goes to a national paper and requests a review of one of his books, he’s much more likely to get it than, say, the guy down the street who paid to have his book published. (My example.) He also used this point to suggest that when we read reviews in our local newspapers, look to see who the publisher is. It’s a good gauge to see who is on the ball… not all publishers are created equal, nor will all of them go the extra mile to get an author the exposure he/she deserves.
The final point of note which surprised me to no end was the tally of books which had to be sold in order for a book to make the bestseller’s list in Canada. For some of us this is good – a fantastic label to have on the front cover – but for those of us wishing to quit our day jobs to become bestselling authors, it’s a bit of a disappointment. The number? 3,000-5,000 copies. That’s all it takes.
In all I walked away from Daniel Wells’ Masterclass with a renewed sense of enthusiasm. It was extremely informative and it gave me a few new ideas on how I want to proceed with my querying. In the meantime, I’m researching literary magazines. And hoping for the best.
For Biblioasis’s website, click here: http://biblioasis.com/
If you’re interested in literary magazine contests that are currently running (Fall 2015) click here: http://blog.magazine-awards.com/2015/09/22/your-guide-to-fall-2015-magazine-writing-contests/