8 Reasons to Go to the San Francisco Writing for Change Conference

If you want to write with pride, passion, and purpose, here are eight ways the Third San Francisco Writing for Change Conference can help you:

1. Be inspired. You’ll hear inspiring keynotes from million-copy sellling authors. Dan Millman and John Robbins will tell you about their experiences as authors and what it takes to succeed.

2. Team up for success. At the last Change Conference, Cami Walker brought the manuscript for a book about giving 29 gifts in 29 days to help heal herself. She met her agent, Rita Rosenkranz, and her editor, Katie McHugh of Da Capo Press, and 29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life spent several weeks on the New York Times extended bestseller list. Cami, Katie, and Rita will discuss how they did it at this year’s conference.

3. Learn from top-notch professionals. Authors, editors, and agents from both coasts will discuss writing, marketing, publishing, harnessing the power of the Web, and a wide range of books about change from the personal to the planetary. You’ll have the opportunity to network with them and pitch your book. You can see the program and the speakers, and register for the conference at www.sfwritingforchange.org.

4. Start a movement. Kirk Boyd met Jeevan Sivasubramanian, Executive Managing Editor at Berrett-Koehler, at the 2007 Change Conference. They’ll talk about how they made Kirk’s book, 2048: Humanity’s Agreement to Live Together, a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller for four weeks, and how Kirk is using his book to build a movement to create an enforceable agreement of human rights around the world.

5. See how pros do it. Mitch Horowitz, the Editor-in-Chief of Tarcher/Penguin, will wear two hats. He’ll give advice and listen to pitches as an acquiring editor. He’ll also do a session with his agent, Laurie Ann Fox, and his editor at Random House, Ryan Doherty, as the author of Occult America: White House Seances, Ouija Circles, Masons, and the Secret Mystic History of Our Nation. Occult America just received the 2010 PEN Oakdland/Josephine Miles Award for Literary Excellence.

6. Use your articles to sell your book. Tim Reiterman of the Associated Press, author of Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People will discuss how to write articles and use them to sell your book.

7. Go viral. Documentary filmmaker Vanessa Workman will show how you can use YouTube by making videos, book trailers, and documentaries to spread the word.

8. Enjoy the city. You can stay at the eco-friendly Hilton Financial, which is on the edge of Chinatown and North Beach, at the special conference rate of $119, so you can browse at the nearby landmark City Lights Bookstore and relax in North Beach’s coffee houses. You’ll also have the chance to spend time in San Francisco, America’s second largest writing and publishing center, one of the most beautiful, progressive, creative, literary, and inspiring cities in the world.

Another Opportunity! On Friday, November 12th, our brilliant colleague, Laurie McLean, will be opening the doors of San Francisco Writers University with “All About E-Books,” a comprehensive all-day symposium on the fastest-growing part of the book business. Information is on the website.

The Third San Francisco Writing for Change Conference: Writing to Make a Difference / November 13-14, Hilton Financial/Chinatown / www.sfwritingforchange.org / Keynoters: Million-copy selling authors Dan Millman (Way of the Peaceful Warrior) and John Robbins (Diet for a New America).

Winning the Showdown on Page One

In an old New Yorker cartoon, an angry writer sits at his desk before a battered typewriter pounding out a note to a publisher. The caption goes like this: “I find your rejection slip mealy-mouthed, turgid, and totally lacking in style, and regret that I must reject your rejection slip.”

Rejection slips will never be models of style, and they never bring good news. Read on to learn one way to help avoid them. Our assistant Claire Cavanaugh, an outstanding editor, and Robin Perini–both are romance writers–did a workshop at the Romance Writers of America Conference. To prepare, they asked a group of agents, including Elizabeth Pomada and Laurie McLean at our agency, seven questions about fiction and nonfiction books.

In response to one question, agents replied that 90 percent of time, they can tell from page one if a manuscript was not salable. This was the follow-up question:

4. What are the most common reasons that you can tell a manuscript will NOT work on page one?

  • Poor writing, incomplete sentences, lots of adjectives each sentence.
  • No hook. Not enough dramatic tension. Too much like so many other plots.
  • Misspellings & poor grammar.
  • Lengthy narrative (usually “setting the scene” with too many details); dull opening with no change (change can be subtle but something must be happening); writing style that doesn’t engage; writer is telling and not showing the story
  • Bad writing, cliché opening, trite character names, poor grammar.
  • Bad prose, wrong word choices, bad grammar and punctuation. Boring, flat, no voice
  • You can’t tell on the first page unless the topic is impossible

The survey has a lot of helpful information. Do yourself a favor and check it out at Robin’s blog: http://robinperini.wordpress.com. Read the post called “Hooks and Opening – Inside Scoop,” click on the helpful handout which has sample openings, and on the last link for the “Inside Scoop Complete Survey Report.”

Agents and editors have a hair-trigger response to bad prose. If you’re telling a story, you can win the showdown on page one by showing up with a killer first page. Let your best words win. It beats having to reject rejections.