Technological changes have rocked publishing over the last few years, creating new opportunities for authors. While some pursue the traditional path of placing a book with a publisher, others are distributing and promoting books themselves with a wide range of services. At the 2018 Writers’ Institute, the University of Wisconsin-Madison will help writers make sense of today’s confusing publishing landscape and find their own route to success.
The 29th annual event is scheduled for April 12-15 at the Madison Concourse Hotel, with presentations by authors, literary agents, and UW-Madison faculty. Acknowledging attendees’ changing needs in an era of digital books and social media pitches, this year’s conference features a new theme: “Pathway to Publication.”
“Working with traditional agents and publishers was the default setting for a long time, but now there are so many more options,” says Writers’ Institute director Laurie Scheer. “This year’s conference will explore all possibilities so attendees can decide which ‘Pathway to Publication’ is best for them.”
Polish, publish, and promote
The Writers’ Institute provides practical tips for writers of fiction and nonfiction, including such genres as mystery, romance, memoir, history, and true crime. They learn how to polish, publish, and promote their work, drawing on UW-Madison expertise. They also have the unique opportunity to pitch their manuscripts directly to industry professionals, who attend the conference to find new authors and to help all attendees sharpen their skills.
The 2018 Writers’ Institute features agents from the Frances Goldin Literary Agency, Red Sofa Literary, and Second City Publishing. Guest authors include Ann Voss Peterson, winner of a Daphne Du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense; and John DeDakis, a CNN journalist whose mystery novel Bullet in the Chamber won a Feathered Quill Book Award. UW-Madison faculty will conduct master classes and manuscript critiques, and community-engagement librarians from Madison Public Library will explain how to make the most of a library’s free resources.
Writers’ Institute attendee Laurie Buchanan is returning this year as a presenter after finding her own pathway to publication. The conference helped her complete her self-help book Note to Self, which went on to win a 2016 Foreword INDIE Award.
“The first time I attended the Writers’ Institute I was impressed by the immediate return on my investment,” Buchanan says. “I found out how to establish tone, create empathy, and hook the reader with a story-worthy problem. Every time I attended I received more bang for my buck than I expected—and I have high expectations.”