How To Get Noticed At Writing Conferences

(This is Caleb. I've turned this post over to everyone's favorite guest blogger, Dr. Tulkinghorn. Since this weekend is my big writers conference, I thought his advice apropos. Without further ado, Dr. Tulkinghorn)

Dear Struggling Writers,

I have very little time to impart of my vast trove of wisdom, but some of you are in such dire need, I have carved out a moment. This week, our topic is how to approach the art and science of attending a writing conference. Here are my key advices:

Step One: The most important thing you can do at a writers conference is to read your manuscript to everyone. Like this. Say your favorite author or agent is doing Q&A. You simply raise your hand enthusiastically --  flapping like a real jackassertive. When called upon, you stand up boldly in the audience and say: “I have cashed in my 401K to be here today, and to attend 41 other conferences, and if I don’t come away with a publishing contract today, my career is ruined. Your feedback will make all the difference. I will now pitch my Great American Novel to you, you lucky petard.”
And then begin reading your manuscript from page one, and don’t stop until the big-name author or agent has asked you to stop at least three times. Don’t take no for an answer. If they are insistent that you sit down, say “I won’t take no for an answer. I know my manuscript will make you and me rich. You must publish this book.”
This is by far the most useful thing you can do at a conference.

Step Two: Repeat step one at every opportunity.
For example, let’s say you are at a breakout session where an author is speaking. Raise your hand and follow step one when called upon. Everyone knows that KNOWING SOMEONE is the key to getting published -- not learning how to control a story or have a narrative voice that anyone would find appealing. Tsk, tsk, and heavens no. The real secret to seeing your name in print is who you know. Writing conferences were invented for this reason. And everyone knows, the more expensive the conference is, the more likely you are to find an agent or publisher at the event. You do know that, right?

Step Three: Don’t eat.
No one will tell you this, because it is one of the greatest-kept secrets of writing. But I am here for your advancement, you knob-heads. So I will let you in on the secret. The time to really pitch your manuscript is during lunch. Only fools eat lunch at writing conferences. Real writers attack every agent, editor, and author they can find, standing in front of them, blocking their way, and reading from their manuscript. I suggest preying on, er, befriending the agent who has his or her mouth full. Just launch into your book. Don’t even give them a chance to speak. THIS IS IMPORTANT.
With these simple tips, you are sure to be offered the standard rich-and-famous-author contract. Now you know. I’ll be back later with more sagacity, you lucky bumpkins.

M. Guppy Tulkinghorn

Dr. Tulkinghorn, as he prefers to be called, has made his reputation on helping ill-witted onions such as yourselves, dear readers. Dr. Tulkinghorn has self-published 47 novels and 18 nonfictions, including his New York Times bestselling book, "How to Writers Conference Your Way to Unspeakable Wealth and Celebrity as a Mediocre & Not Truly Invested Writer.” (Soon to be available in paperback everywhere.) Dr. Tulkinghorn has three pieces of free advice for you, rapt readers: 1) Talk about writing more than you write. 2) Copy the trendy plot ideas -- everyone knows success is derivative. 3) Don't sign up for the local conference where people have worked tirelessly to give you access to the best writers at the least cost. You're unlikely to learn a damn thing you haven't heard and ignored 41 times before. M. Guppy Tulkinghorn is married to his wife, Wopsie “Miggs” Tulkinghorn. They live in Middle America.

Perhaps the Best Writing Advice Ever.

“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very’; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”
— Mark Twain (1835-1910)

Ebook Author Turns Down $500K to earn $30K? YES!

The ebook revolution has taken a new turn.

Barry Eisler is a California-based professional who has become a full-time and self-published writer. He has made a splash recently after releasing to the internet a great discussion between himself and another writer about why Barry turned down a $500,000 deal with a traditional publisher, which he calls a “legacy publisher.” The discussion is fascinating and informative.

But here’s the thing that got my attention: Eisler is on track to make a staggering $30,000 of a epublished short story released in February called Lost Coast. That is an enormous sum for short story. For any story.

“In February I self-published a short story, The Lost Coast, featuring one of my series characters, a very nasty piece of work named Larison,” Eisler said in the aforementioned online discussion. “I priced it at $2.99, which is a premium price for a short story, just to see how my writing would do in the new environment and even with the handicap of a relatively high price. It’s been selling steadily and is currently at #1,088 on the Kindle list (and #13 and #17 on Amazon’s short stories bestseller lists, which is good because the top twenty come up in the first page view). It definitely got a boost from the online discussion that followed my announcement, but even before all that it was on track to earn me about $30,000 in a year through Amazon, B&N, andSmashwords—not bad at all for a short story.”

I also wanted to pull one more quote from his website, because I felt it was important information for all writers. Here is what Eisler has to say about agents in the ebook age.

“Agents should ask themselves how they'll feel for a certain title if five years from now, or ten, 90% of units of that title are being downloaded and only 10% sold in paper form. Publishers' and online booksellers' digital revenues will represent nearly pure profit -- have you done enough to secure your author's portion of that profit stream?  Because sooner than you think, that digital stream is going to represent most if not all of what you and your author are earning.”

You should definitely visit this guy’s blog.

Dr. Tulkinghorn: Character Names MUST!!! be Taken from the Bible

(Readers, welcome back our guest blogger, Dr. Tulkinghorn, as he prefers to be called. He is here again with his stupendous and career-changing advice for each of us. -Caleb)

Dear Struggling Writers,

I’m here to favor you with more tips to change your feeble literary attempts into monuments of expression. Today I offer you guidance on how to name your characters.

Here are my key tips:

If you are writing science fiction, the names of your characters must contain an X, or Z, or Y. Q is sometimes acceptable.

The names should require guessing when it comes to pronunciation. You should zealously correct anyone -- a member of your writers critique group, for example -- who guesses the pronunciation incorrectly. Be firm! The only thing that matters is that people use the pronunciation you made up! 

If you are NOT writing sci-fi (which makes you a wannabe. Real writers predict the future without emphasis on emotion, as everyone knows. Plus you need somewhere to display your useless knowledge of math and astronomy.) Anyway, as I was saying, if you are not writing sci-fi, you must, MUST use character names that come only from the BIBLE, OR THE NAMES OF OLD ENGLISH KINGS. This is critical. Any other kind of name makes your readers suspicious of your motives. As they should be. 

This advice applies equally when naming children. Actual flesh and blood children, I mean. Acceptable names are as follows: John, Peter, Paul, Simon, Henry, Richard, Thomas, Matthew, Luke, and Mark. THESE ARE THE STANDARDS. Stick close to this list. The names have been used ad nauseum in hundreds of thousands of books, but this is their appeal. Do whatever ever the group does, Debbies. 

It's true, the names are so milquetoast that the reader will have trouble remembering who is who, or why anyone cares, but that is not part of this discussion. This discussion is an admonishment to DO ONLY WHAT HAS BEEN DONE BEFORE. Otherwise people will know you are putting on aires. 

Women's names should include Mary, Sally, and Jennifer. Emphasis on Jennifer. This name should be used in almost every book. And every school classroom in America should have at least four Jennifers, as far as naming actual children goes. But that is advice for another day. Elizabeth, Margaret, and Julie are also acceptable female character names. Deborah is also passable. Sarah is getting a bit religious, which will surely offend most of the country. Unless your audience is in the Bible Belt. Then Sarah rises to the top of the list. 
Finally, remember this rule of thumb. If you have an hour to write, spend most of it fussing over your character's names. Use universal search and replace to try out different names. Getting the perfect name IS FAR MORE IMPORTANT than actual plotting or demonstrations of literary prowess on the page. 

Well, that's surely enough bearing down for one day. I'll be back. 
M. Guppy Tulkinghorn

Dr. Tulkinghorn has a Ph.D in BS from a fantastically prestigious and expensive school that need not even be named, because if you don't know it by inference, you are an ill-witted onion. Dr. Tulkinghorn has self-published 47 novels and 18 nonfictions, including his New York Times bestselling book, "Hey Moron! Writing cannot be taught! Real Writers Take NO ADVICE from Anyone!  And They Write VERY SLOWLY Because this is Their Process! Ye Gads! Writing is Inborn! Never Listen to Advice from Those Who Have Been Before You, But Do Ask Them to Read Your Manuscript so You can Ignore Whatever Comments They Have for You!!" (Soon to be available in paperback everywhere.) Dr. Tulkinghorn has three pieces of free advice for writers everywhere: 1) Read at least 80 blogs a day. 2) Only the trendy conference that never actually helped anyone will do. 3) Real writers NEVER waste time learning how to use commas. They show their true genius by ignoring all pressure to write like someone with a competent education. M. Guppy Tulkinghorn is married to his wife, Wopsie “Miggs” Tulkinghorn. They live in Middle America.

You CAN Blog About Anything!!! (Guest Blogger)

(Readers, please welcome our first-ever guest blogger on this site. Mr. Tulkinghorn will be making semi-regular appearances here with his expert writing advice. Enjoy. -Caleb)

Dear Struggling Writers,
Blogging is the key to a successful writing career. 
Any agent who hasn’t been dropped by all his clients because they have moved to self-publishing e-books will tell you this is true. I am the author of 47 novels and 18 nonfictions and my advice for you is BLOG A LOT. Here are my key tips:
  • Blogs must be focused on specific topics only. Because of this, every writer should have three or four blogs, all with different titles and themes.
  • YOU MUST post every new blog entry on Facebook. Only an ill-witted cabbage would miss this opportunity to alert their Facebook friends, most of whom they barely know and haven't seen in years, about every idea that pops into your mind to blog about.
  • I suggest you blog frequently about how you have a WIP (work in progress, in case you are new to this whole world of writing, you dear little pet. Don't worry, you'll soon get all the important lingo to make you feel you are part of the group). No matter how collapsed your WIP is, you should blog about it. Until you give up on it and move to another project. Then you begin blogging about the new project until it gets hard and you give up. THIS IS IMPORTANT.
  • Your blog will die and no one will read you unless you give things away. Anything will do.
  • Have cute labels and themes for different days of the week.
  • USE EXCLAMATION MARKS in all your blog titles!!!!!!!!!!!!! Duh!
  • Be funny.
  • And charming.
  • If you don't have a blog, you will never find an agent.
  • Make sure you prominently follow the blog of Nathan Bransford, even if you don't know that he is not an agent anymore, because being an agent sucks. He quit to go work in computers, but that doesn't matter. Follow his blog carefully. Let everyone know of your affection for him. He is likely to quit his job and go back to being an agent just so that he can agent your unfinished WIP which he found out about on your all-important BLOG.
Dear writers, these are enough tips for today. Memorize them, and I shall return tomorrow to give you further instruction.
M. Guppy Tulkinghorn, author

M. Guppy Tulkinghorn has self-published 47 novels and 18 nonfiction books, including his New York Times bestselling book, “Now is the Time to Write about Vampires and Men with a lot of Abs But Not Enough Money to Buy Shirts to Cover Them Because They Can’t Work Because They are Deeply Involved in a Love Triangle with a So-So Looking Chick whilst Dealing with the Burden of having Supernatural Powers.” Mr. Tulkinghorn discovered the key to selling books is to give them away for free after first self-publishing them, and then trying and failing to sell the books at grocery stores book-signings. Mr. Tulkinghorn has three pieces of free advice for writers everywhere: 1) Remember that WRITING CANNOT BE TAUGHT. 2) GO TO ALL THE CONFERENCES YOU CAN, NO MATTER THE COST. 3)BLOG MORE THAN YOU WORK ON YOUR MANUSCRIPTS. And here is a fourth piece of advice: Great Writers Use Lots of Italics, random Capitalizations, and Psychically-placed commas. M. Guppy Tulkinghorn is married to his wife, Wopsie “Miggs” Tulkinghorn. They live in Middle America.