A few weeks ago I attended a Literary Lounge at Soho House Toronto. I’ve written about my attendance at a previous Literary Lounge here. This month’s lounge featured three award-winning authors: Frank Beddor (Producer of There’s Something About Mary), Adrienne Kress, and Eric Laster. The three authors spoke about their new books and also led a discussion on the current state of the publishing industry.
Before I summarize some of the key takeaways from the event, I’d like to share a little more about the panel of experts:
In addition to producing There’s Something About Mary, Beddor also wrote the New York Times best-selling The Looking Glass Wars trilogy (this series spent 26 weeks on the list, and has sold over 800,000 copies), and is a two-time World Champion skier. Talk about a resume!
Adrienne Kress is an actress and an award-winning author of the international hits Alex and the Ironic Gentleman and Timothy and the Dragon’s Gate, as well as two Young Adult novels, Outcast and The Friday Society.
Last but not least, Eric Laster is a New York Times best-selling ghost writer and author of Welfy Q. Deederhoth: Meat Purveyor, World Savior.
Many of the key takeaways were thoughtful and helpful statements that reiterated important details about the publishing industry.
I’ll start with Eric Laster; he was someone I found to be brutally honest when talking about his writing and strategy. He reiterated the importance of getting up in front of people and telling your story to anyone who will listen. Here are three of his most interesting statements:
- “Writing is rewriting.” Stephen King preaches this as well. As writers, we all know this, yet we still find ourselves frustrated when we have to edit, edit, edit.
- “The playlists I create help me get under the characters a bit more.” Laster is one of many authors to create playlists for his books and characters. I love this idea. Picking out songs characters would listen to, along with the genres they enjoy will definitely help the writer understand their characters on a deeper level.
- “Use Wattpad.” Laster is also big believer in Wattpad. He suggests publishing work on Wattpad while playing the query letter waiting game. Kress and Beddor didn’t necessarily share the same viewpoints on Wattpad and the big publishing houses as Laster did though, so it was great to get varied opinions.
Laster wasn’t the only one with great feedback and advice. Frank Beddor and Adrienne Kress were both compelling and offered great discussion points and answers to my pressing questions. Beddor has such an incredibly diverse and impressive resume as I mentioned above, and Kress was animated and enthusiastic when speaking about her projects and the publishing industry in general.
Beddor had an interesting start in the film industry; in fact, he pitched Something About Mary while on a ski lift, and by the time he was off, the project was green-lit. It’s always so exciting to hear stories like his, and reiterates the importance of a good elevator pitch.
Kress had a very smooth start into the world of publishing as well. She and Laster both published their first novels in the United Kingdom, which is something I would like to research a little bit more for my own writing. Kress is an actress who initially wanted to write plays she could act in herself before she started writing novels. She got a publishing deal quite quickly; something that is hard to hear for someone like me who has an Excel spreadsheet for her query letters! But it is amazing to hear how quickly it can happen, when usually all I hear about it how long the query process takes. Sometimes, timing is everything.
I also approached Kress after the panel to ask her opinion on how the publishing industry views New Adult (the genre I write), and it was so kind of her to discuss her opinions with me. (Bottom line the genre is still developing and is a hard sell). Lastly, Kress also reminded the audience that a lot of writer’s simply “choose to self-publish” but it is important to remember the amount of work that goes into self-publishing… writer’s are truly on their own. This is definitely a huge factor to consider authors decide which publishing route to take.
The Literary Lounge was a great opportunity to discuss the current state of the publishing industry with successful authors who know how difficult the industry is. Listening to their discussion and speaking with them afterwards was a great way to remind myself not to get too discouraged and to continue writing. All I can do is keep at it.