It’s been a whirlwind weekend of networking, coffee, pitch sessions, and schmoozefests. I arrived home last night from New York City, where I attended the American Society of Journalist and Author’s annual conference. Some of you who follow me on Twitter have seen my tweets, mostly sound bytes from the panels and speeches I attended. Now that I’ve had a chance to digest the information from the conference, I thought I’d share a few of the over-arching themes and tips that emerged.
- Think multi-platform. Several panelists and speakers bemoaned the death of print markets as we know them. Others suggested ways for entrepreneurial writers to capitalize on new technology by creating iPhone apps, eBooks, podcasts, online videos, and other products. It’s no longer enough to write great articles. Compelling stories can carry over from print to video and other media.
- Get social. But be transparent. Social media in varying forms came up in virtually every panel or speech. Some writer embrace it, some writers hate it, but the consensus was that we can’t afford to ignore it. During his keynote speech, Peter Shankman said, “bad writing is ruining America. Good writers will win at social media.” That got a round of applause! Shankman also emphasized the importance of transparency and relevance in social media. If you don’t give readers information in the format they want (be it RSS, email, vblogging, or podcasting), they’ll get it somewhere else.
- Buy the domain for your book title. This issue came up in multiple panels. I’m not actively pursuing a book deal yet, so I focused on panels for journalists rather than book authors. But panelists kept mentioning how important this is (one even bought the domain before the deal was formalized, just in case), so I filed this away for future reference.
- Think of yourself as a “content expert.” These days, most publishers insist on buying all rights to articles, which kills the writer’s chances of selling a reprint. Instead, one of the panelists urged writers to repackage all that research and knowledge, reslanting the piece for a different market. My blog readers know this isn’t a new idea, but the way she described us as “content experts” got me jazzed about revising my old articles for possible reslants.
- Remember, everything is negotiable. Given the rapidly changing media landscape, it’s understandable that some writers feel powerless to negotiate better contracts or payment terms. However, as the panelists in “Self Defense for the Self-Employed” pointed out, it’s still possible to negotiate. Beyond negotiating for more money, writers can ask to drop or alter indemnity clauses, adjust deadlines, and shorten the exclusivity time period.
Did you attend ASJA, too? What was your impression of the conference? Anything you’d add? Or if you didn’t attend, do you agree or disagree with these tips?