Tag Archives: Superstars Writing

The Superstars Effect

Roughly a year ago I attended a conference called Superstars Writing Seminars, or Superstars for short. It’s a writing conference focused not on the craft of writing but rather the business of being a successful author, and attending the conference was, quite simply, life-changing for me.

Let me paint a picture of where I was a year ago, in terms of experience, knowledge, and my mental/emotional makeup. In the year prior to attending, I’d realized my love of writing, and I’d written my first novel. Then, like many other people in my shoes, I’d polished up the work, sent it to agents in search of representation, and gotten rejected dozens of times. And I’d become depressed and unsure about my path forward.

Thankfully, I had my lovely wife to gently encourage me (via a swift kick in the rear) to keep trying—assuming that writing was something I was serious about. Well, it was, and a conference seemed like a good way to kick-start my, at the time, non-existent career. As luck would have it, I found Superstars, and only a few weeks before the conference was scheduled to be held.

Now, I won’t go into the specifics of what topics were discussed—everything from contracts to self-publishing to marketing to sales numbers and trends, and every tidbit I learned was helpful. But there were two things I took away from the conference that were far more useful than any specific piece of advice I learned.

The first was seeing how hard the most successful authors worked. As someone who had approached writing (to that point) as a hobby, it was eye-opening to see how much time and effort the successful writers poured into their craft, and by craft I don’t just mean learning and practicing their writing, but also marketing, networking, working on budgets and sales and financials, blogging, web design, cover design, editing, etc, etc, etc. Not surprisingly, those authors who were successful approached their endeavors as a business, and like any other business person, they worked hard to be successful.

The other major takeaway I gained from the conference was a renewed passion about writing—in part due to specific motivational speeches (*cough* James Owen *cough), but also because the presenters and attendees were all so passionate about their writing that it was hard not to be infected by the feeling. Not that I really needed to be infected—I was already passionate about my writing. But seeing others doing the same thing I was working toward, and seeing their success while also learning how to do better myself—that was inspiring. And I came away from the conference with that knowledge that I could—not would, but could—succeed as a writer. And despite the idea of gatekeepers in writing, whether they were agents or editors or others, the biggest hurdle to my own success came from within.

So after the conference, I worked hard. I applied myself. I learned as much as I could, and I cut things out of my life that wouldn’t help me become a better writer and a more successful one.

I read blogs on business and writing daily. I updated my website with new bells and whistles. I boosted my social media reach over twofold, and more importantly, I made connections with other writers and with editors and cover artists. I read—a lot, in lots of genres, stuff outside my traditional preference.

And I wrote, as much as I could. I penned three novels, and self-published them when they were ready to see the light of day (well, not the last one yet—but it should be out very soon).

And sales? I tried not to worry about that part too much. That part was largely out of my control. All I could do was work as hard as possible and put out the best product I could. I figured if I did that, success would at some point follow. And you know what? In many ways, success is already here, as evidenced by some of my recent blog posts. My books are doing great. They’re flying off the digital shelves. Readers love them. And I love writing them.

So for those of you who are going to be joining me next week at Superstars, brace yourselves. You’ll have a flood of information coming at you. All of it will be useful. Absorb as much of it as you can. But also keep in mind—success will only be able to come from within you.

Chances are, it’s already there. You just need to free it.

One Horn to Rule them All

Those of you who know me and have talked to me about writing have probably heard me talk about the Superstars Writing conference before. It’s a business oriented writing conference spearheaded by best-selling science fiction and fantasy author Kevin J. Anderson, and it’s featured numerous recurring guests including Dave Farland, Brandon Sanderson, James A. Owen, Eric Flint, and this coming year, mega best-selling indie author Hugh Howey.

It’s a fantastic conference, one that changed my focus and outlook on writing entirely, and one that motivated me to do far more than I would have ever thought possible. I plan on attending for years to come, and at the one year anniversary of my attendance of the conference this year, I’ll be posting some statistics and numbers showing just how much the conference helped me accomplish.

You might be thinking that a business conference isn’t much fun, but quite the contrary – it’s a blast. The people are fabulous, friendly, and inclusive, and once you join, you’re permanently part of ‘the Tribe.’

Let me tell you a story about the conference to elaborate. In one of Kevin’s seminars on professionalism, he likes to stress the point that if you commit to a project, you’d better produce, no matter how dumb you might think the project is. He always uses the same example: if you agree to write a short story for a purple unicorn anthology, then by golly, you’d better write the best dang piece of purple unicorn short fiction that you can. Your readers deserve it.

The idea, of course, is that an anthology on purple unicorns is about the dumbest thing you can imagine. So this became a running joke. Until this year that is, when after being egged on by numerous attendees, Kevin decided that we’d turn this particular fantasy into reality.

And thus, One Horn to Rule them All was born.

One Horn to Rule them All

This is a true labor of love for everyone involved with the conference. Attendees submitted stories for it, panelists donated their time and efforts to edit and produce cover art for it, and Kevin ponied up the cash to fund it, all without compensation in the name of charity. Charity, you say? Yes, that’s right. All the proceeds from sales of the anthology go toward providing scholarships to the Superstars conference so that cash strapped authors who wouldn’t otherwise be able to attend get a chance to join us at the next meeting.

And in case you think I’m just promoting this because I’m in it, well guess again. My story wasn’t even good enough to get included! So there! (Maybe I’ll post it here someday – no guarantees though.) And this anthology doesn’t just feature up and coming authors from the conference. It also features some big names like Todd McCaffrey, Jody Lynn Nye, and Peter S. Beagle. Yes, the Peter S. Beagle, author of The Last Unicorn.

So if you have any interest at all in purple unicorns, consider buying it. It’s available in both e-book and trade paperback format through Amazon and Createspace, and it’s for a good cause. Who knows – if it does well enough, maybe there’ll be another volume next year.