In 2018, I launched the Belize Writers Conference (BWC).
It was a dream of mine to start out a writing convention and introduce fellow writers to my lovely Caribbean birthplace.
Though I used to be raised in California, my ties to Belize are robust. I knew there had not been a novel revealed internationally by a Belizean for the reason that Nineteen Eighties. As an creator, guide coach and avid reader, I additionally wished to advertise the literary arts in Belize.
I made a decision to focus the convention on introducing writers to literary agents, since so many writers (together with myself) are sometimes misinformed in regards to the means of attempting to publish a guide with a traditional publisher.
I’ve a decent literary resume: my poetry, brief tales and essays have acquired awards and have been revealed in good literary magazines. For greater than 23 years I’ve written a newspaper recommendation column that reaches 30,000 weekly readers on-line and in print. I’m the creator of “When Your Coronary heart Breaks, It’s Opening to Love,” which acquired a nationwide award for books that promote tolerance and forgiveness.
However my queries to literary brokers went nowhere till I launched the writers convention. Then brokers started pursuing me.
Beginning a writing convention isn’t straightforward, but it surely has been extremely rewarding.
Growing a writing convention is like beginning your individual freelance writing business or a non-profit group. You want a mission, marketing strategy, funds, advertising and marketing technique and loads of resilience. I ran an education-based nonprofit in Belize for 16 years, so I perceive how issues work within the former British colony.
Eager about beginning a writing convention? Comply with the following pointers
The excellent news is that BWC is now coming into its third yr, and I’ve discovered rather a lot alongside the way in which.
In case you’re thinking about beginning a writing convention of your individual, comply with the following pointers.
1. Decide what sort of convention you want to begin
Do your analysis.
Whereas there are a lot of writing conferences on the market, even these with lengthy observe information battle in in the present day’s local weather.
Speak to convention administrators. Get to know the convention panorama.
Ask your self: How is my convention distinctive? Does it fill a distinct segment that may compel writers to register?
2. Create a funds
BWC’s greatest expense is journey prices, lodging and meals for 2 literary brokers, my assistant and me.
Many conferences lower your expenses by bringing in two or three powerhouse authors and counting on native expertise to fill the remaining spots on the schedule. I don’t have that possibility. The literary group in Belize is nascent and there are not any brokers primarily based there.
Contemplate how you’ll pay to your headliners and methods to entice different professionals.
At BWC, authors who current workshops pay their very own journey prices. In alternate, they obtain a reduced convention bundle and might promote their books at no cost. Our authors are excited so as to add educating at a world occasion to their literary bios and to attach with a brand new viewers of guide lovers.
3. Select a venue
The primary BWC was held at a hip beachfront yoga retreat on a bucolic island off the coast of Belize. Some attendees complained that the ground and ceiling followers have been inadequate towards warmth and humidity.
Consequently, we moved our convention to a beachfront resort in southern Belize with air con in each room. It’s important to maintain attendees snug and blissful.
4. Set up an advisory board
Yearly I invite a bunch of sensible, achieved writers to affix the BWC board.
This proficient group makes selections, edits publicity-related supplies and helps to make sure that BWC advantages attendees personally and professionally. I earn a living from home so having an advisory board additionally provides me a lot wanted face time with proficient friends.
5. Select your college
To seek out the precise brokers for BWC, I learn quite a lot of on-line interviews. I search for brokers who’re accepting purchasers, have a observe document of publishing offers, are skilled workshop facilitators and whose personalities sign that hanging out with writers for 5 days at a beachfront resort could be heaven.
6. Formulate a advertising and marketing plan
A advertising and marketing plan is a step-by-step technique to succeed in the individuals who will wish to attend your convention.
Ask your self: What’s the hook that may attraction to them?
For BWC, it’s our attractive tropical locale and the distinctive expertise of working instantly with brokers. Whether or not a author plans to self-publish, hybrid publish, discover a small press or a standard writer, brokers have unimaginable perception about what makes a profitable manuscript.
Upon getting your hook, determine your ideally suited attendees, decide the place they hang around on-line, get your e mail checklist prepared, line up talking alternatives and develop collateral materials to advertise your convention to your audience.
In case you’re an creator with guide launch expertise, you’ve the abilities to market a convention.
7. Be a very good literary citizen
BWC impressed me to determine the primary literary fellowship for a Belizean within the nation’s historical past. Funded by Copal Distillery Basis, the writer-in-residence fellowship on the Belize Writers Convention acknowledges a proficient Belizean author and funds their BWC tuition and board.
8. Be resilient
As BWC’s convention director, I’ve handled conditions I by no means may have imagined, from complaints about humidity to 1 participant who refused to share her suite with one other author after she agreed to take action.
I’ve discovered to assume on my ft and never take criticisms personally. I attempt to make sure that each participant has the perfect expertise potential however I do know you’ll be able to’t please everybody on a regular basis.
9. Plan for the long term
Determine beforehand to not be one and performed.
Commit for no less than 5 years. It could take that lengthy to construct up the publicity and fame that may make your convention an attraction and successful.
The BWC is now in its third yr and going robust. My focus for 2020 is to create year-round alternatives within the U.S. similar to literary readings and creator panels to construct the bios of writers in our BWC group.
And, after all, to proceed inviting writers to vacation with literary agents!
Photograph through Belize Writers Convention