Thursday, May 19, 2016

SouthWest Writers’ Novel Conference

This past Saturday, I volunteered at the Novel Conference hosted by SouthWest Writers, the state’s premier organization for professional and aspiring writers. I decided to blog about it because, heretofore, I’ve been somewhat ambivalent about such activities. This one, I found to be interesting and informative. Perhaps the fact I volunteered rather than was a participant shaped my feelings somewhat; nevertheless, I wanted to share a bit of the program with you.

This conference was organized around two representatives of literary firms that are players on the national scene. This year they were Mark Gottlieb, a literary agent at the Trident Media Group, and Annabella Hochschild, Editorial Assistant at St. Martin’s Press. Both guests addressed the group and took a series of pitches from attendees ranging from published to aspiring authors.

The subject of Mark’s talk was “Get it While it’s Hot: Musings on What Sells in Major Trade Publishing. TMG has been in business since 2000, and Mark has been ranked as high as
#1 on Agents on in Overall Deals. He has other top rankings in such various interests as Science Fiction/Fantasy, Thriller, Mystery/Crime, Romance and Young Adult.

Annabella addressed the group on “The Pitching Process,” focusing on what makes some pitches work and some fall flat. She worked for Vogue before moving to St. Martin’s Press to work on the desk of Tim Bartlett, who specializes in political and economic serious non-fiction.

As fascinating as it was to hear from professionals on the national scene, I found our local speakers to be equally engaging.

Johnny D. Boggs, winner of both the Western Heritage Wrangler Award and the Spur Award, spoke on the subject: “There’s No Crying in Publishing.” His talk addressed getting your novel published by a traditional publisher.

Robin Perini’s topic was “The Power of Love: The Romance Market Uncovered.” She is an award-winning, international bestselling author and RITA finalist who has been on the Top 5 on Amazon Bestseller lists in the U.S., UK, and Germany.

Joseph Badal talked to the group on “What’s Happening in Publishing for Thrillers and Mysteries.” Joe has published nine novels and was named One of 50 Authors You Should Be Reading in 2011, won first in the 2013 NM?AZ Book Awards in the Fiction-Mystery/Thriller category, the Tony Hillerman Prize for Best Fiction, and other prestigious awards.

Caroline Starr Rose spoke on “KidLit 101: Defining Terms, Knowing Your Audience, and Breaking In. She was named a Publishers Weekly Flying Start Author for her debut novel, May B, which was also an ALA-ALSC Notable Children’s Book.

My reason for bringing up something already over and done with? I just wanted to toss kudos to Rob Spiegel, President of SWW and Joanne Bodin, Conference chair for the group. Well done, guys.

Oh yes, I also wanted to encourage my readers’ participation in such conferences, and if there’s not one available in your area, to consider organizing one. I’m sure Rob and Joanne and any number of others at SWW would be glad to give you some helpful suggestions. SWW’s email address is:

Feel free to contact me at

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