I attended Spring Fling on May 20-21st in a suburb of Chicago, Schaumburg, which was a lovely area outside the hustle and bustle of the busy Windy City. This particular convention was designed for the writer and industry people, however we are all fans first so it was an enjoyable experience meeting other writers and discovering new authors with titles that sparked my interest.
The Hyatt Regency was the perfect location for this event. The hotel was easy to navigate in order to find the sessions and get back to the room in a timely manner. The room was well appointed and the staff friendly and helpful. The coffee shop was a staple for all the authors and had great little nooks to sit and collect your thoughts. We were served buffet style for lunch and dinner and the final gala event on Saturday night was a plated dinner. The food was fabulous and it was fun sitting at the tables and meeting new people. Everyone was friendly and welcoming with energized discussions about our personal lives and current projects.
I have to admit, the two days were exhausting. Non stop on the go and plugging away at informational sessions was insightful, but at times also overwhelming. On Saturday night I bypassed the gala dinner and dancing for a quiet night in the room with a pizza. I have to thank my good friend Lissa Matthews for talking with me and letting me vent about all the information I had collected.
Now, onto the carnival of events that whizzed by, filling my brain with wonderful information I’ve already implemented into my new projects and selling techniques on the Amazon powerhouse.
I opted not to pitch to the agents and editors attending from Harlequin, Sourcebooks, Berkley, Penguin Random House, and Entangled. However, I had a grand time letting other writers practice their pitches with me and giving them support as they fought the overwhelming nervous jitters as they prepared to talk with the trad pubs. I also attended a critique session at a round table discussion. That was an eye opening experience. I was proud of myself because I had true insight and something to contribute to the group. I found out I know more than I thought about this business and the craft of writing. I have my mentors to thank for help along this journey.
I’ll break down the sessions I attended and give a brief statement as to my experience.
Risky Business: Driving Your Career Off the Beaten Path (Jenny Trout): I loved this session. It was one of my favorites. She encouraged us to find new avenues for creativity by taking the leap to change a stale brand and write what inspires because it can lead to great things. This was perfect for me because I followed my heart a couple of months ago and decided to go for broke and exclusively write MM erotic romance. I changed my brand and came out of the box swinging and it paid off. Ms. Trout was entertaining and I left the room energized.
The Art and Science of Writing Deep POV (Jeanette Grey): The handout we received was simple and easy to follow. The information was on point and put writing deep pov into an easy to understand formula. Ms. Grey also touched base on ways to invoke your character and warned against the emotions writing well crafted deep pov can play with the author’s psych. She left plenty of time for questions and discussion. I would highly recommend authors at any level take a course like this.
How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon (Penny Sansevieri): Holy goodness! This session was incredibly valuable. I, literally, sat in the session on my phone and toyed in KDP and within two hours noticed a rise in my Amazon ranks for one of my books. Keywords, my friends, are the “key” to success. I read the first edition of the book, the same title as the session, a couple of years ago and have now downloaded the updated version. This book is loaded with information of how to ride the Amazon algorithms and keep up with the every changing waves of the virtual book store. Book Link.
Plotting Through Characterization (Briana MacPerry): This was a wonderful class and Ms. MacPerry led a meditation session at the end. She combined The Hero’s Journey with building solid character traits to move the plot forward. The only draw back to this session was that she wouldn’t give the presentation hand out unless the attendee signed up for her mailing list. When I went to her website, you have to sign up for classes in order to get the slides from the presentation. I didn’t think that was appropriate considering we had already paid the $250 to attend the sessions in the first place. Other than that, it was an enjoyable class.
New Adult: Is it Just YA with More Sex? (Anne Marie Ortega and Kimberly Sullivan): I had fun in this presentation. It was open discussion and the handout was easy to follow and summed up the basic criteria to be slotted in the New Adult genre. Personally, I love to read this genre and have a New Adult MM book coming out in October, so this class was very interesting. Ann Marie was charming and her book review site is a great place to find interesting New Adult titles. New Adult Book Reviews
As for Leveraging the ‘Social’ and the ‘Media’ in Social Media to Sell Books (Joanna Shupe and Sonali Dev): I didn’t get a solid base of information from this session. It was fairly disorganized and I have a bottom line…does the promo sell books? If not then ditch it. At the end of the class I raised my hand and asked the presenters if their adds on Facebook sold more books, the short answer was “No”. I added the benefit of Instagram and Tumblr for the younger audience. Again, I didn’t get much out of this one.
What Readers Want: Exploring “Diverse Books Don’t Sell” and Other Publishing Myths (large panel): Bottom line, finding books with multi cultural characters is difficult. Finding authors who write characters with diverse ethnic backgrounds is challenging and this panel encouraged authors to explore writing characters from multiple cultures.
The author signing period lasted four hours and was fun. I purchased print books for my friends and co-workers to share. I also shared the swag I received in the welcome bag.
I learned a great deal while attending this con and one theme was evident…FAN FIC IS HUGE! I’ve never written fan fiction nor do I care to dive into that realm, but Christina Lauren started the Beautiful Bastard series from Twilight fan fic and the series exploded. So, that might be an avenue some writers could explore for inspiration when their creative spark has fizzled.
Overall, I enjoyed this conference. While face paced, I learned a great deal and will attend in 2018. The price was affordable. The con was $250 and the room $246 for two nights. Total I spent was approximately $700.
I started spring off with a bang and can’t wait to attend Spring Fling again. I look forward to meeting more new authors. If you have any questions about the information I received at any of the sessions, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can send additional comments.