Summary of a Recent Michigan Writing Workshop

On May 4th 2019, I attended the Michigan Writing Workshop.  I think they provided valuable content.

1. This one-day event was held in the Atrium of the Ambassador hotel in Novi, Michigan; it was advertised in local writer forums and on the web, as organized by Jessica Bell. The day was split into five blocks of time within three adjacent meeting rooms.

2. I did not participate in the “critique schedule” portion of the event; these were private breakout sessions where, in minutes, you could get a piece of your work evaluated. Critiques ran in parallel to the main session tracks and cost extra. I heard two short comments that the critiques were good and insightful, with the caveat that it took away from the writer’s ability to network with others.

3. Handouts of the presented material were available if you were persistent in finding them. See here the  Michigan Writing Workshop MAY 2019 for good ones from Brian Klem, who was everywhere helping everybody. See the handouts for insights on “writing like the pros”, how to write a non-fiction book proposal, and frequently asked questions.

4. The event had pleasant air about it, a positive anxiety, not unlike a traveling road show. The performers (speakers) are intimate with each other and are intent on dazzling the spectators (learner- writers). Fun and entertainment are always good and near all of the performers were splendid.

5. The workshop made a good impression and provided some detail that was new to me. The event was distinct in part because of its treatment of self-publishing as a market approach. Self-publishing was the magic elixir attracting the paying spectators (ok – no more such allegorical vagary).

6. You can’t help but be aware of two ways to publish: traditional and self. And it’s the relative newness of self-publishing that’s under the big-tent spotlight (oops).

7. Whichever label, you perform the same essential tasks along the way using new technical features. You could conclude this is obvious, but due to changing expectations (of publishers and printers and reader/consumers), and rates and complexity of technical change, and opportunity for success embodied in new methods, it merits attention.

8. The degree of traditional versus self-publishing tasks depends on your fame and publishing history; if you are famous and/or have significant history of marketing success, it is reduced to a non-issue.

9. On the other hand, we commoners, assuming serious intent to publish (rather than just print), should expect to do technical tasks (or buy the service) as long as a publisher is to be involved. Publishers expect those technology oriented-tasks to be done, but they are keeping their costs down.

10. The number of tasks you end up doing (instead of the publisher) reflects your determination and urgency to be published. Detailed technical task execution becomes a team endeavor, a trust among writers, a dynamic new business model (forgive me, but I think we’re back at that traveling road show – workshops are part of the evolving new business model).

11. Lastly and importantly, the workshop acknowledged and reinforced that the greatest of all factors is your writing craft. Your actual writing, the vital work you most want to do, is the feature attraction under that big roadshow tent.

Thanks for this goodness from the Michigan Writer Workshop. All the credit is theirs.

Write on!

James Sutton