6 Tips from The 18th Annual Writers Institute-Madison, WI

It has been a great institute so far. I snagged a parking spot right behind the hotel and haven't been that lucky in three years. I thought that would be the highlight ntil Friday when a poem I submitted placed third in the institute contest. That was great. The opening agents' forum addressed the roll that "platform" plays in branding your name. There was a good discussion of the rise and fall of certain genre, but the agents reassured the audience that good writing, in the hands of a good agent will still be published. It might not bring the big advance or go with an East Coast or Chicago publisher, but it can make it.

Here are the major tips I picked up for fiction writers:

#1 You must be a partner in the success of your work. That means you are expected to know the genre, know who your readers are and to establish business plan for promoting your name as an author.

#2 Find the non-fiction platform in your writing and build your expertise in that area. Attend workshops. Pay attention to the trade magazines of your characters' field of endevor. read the trends sections of appropriate mags and webzines.

#3 When you're ready to write your query letter spend as much time on it as you can before you send it out. Research the agency and agents and read the authors they already represent.

#4 Look at the ways the authors you enjoy reading managing their professional lives. How often are they on the road pushing their books? What does their website look like? Who do they link up with and why do you think they made that connection?

#5. To build your credibility and to show a publisher the networks that you have that will help sell your book, join local state or national organizations related to your genre and the themes of your books. Give talks at any level to polish your speaking skills, and become known for your craft.

#6 Nothing sells better than believable characters, a solid plot, and a good story.

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