LA Times Festival of Books Was LIT! (or… LAT.)

(Reed’s Playlist for the occasion: Brave New World by… me!)

You know it’s a good day when even the title contains a bad pun.

I spent the last few hours at the LA Times Festival of Books, held at USC this year. I initially got a line about it from a friend of mine who met her publisher there – essentially, it’s a gathering of a bunch of small independent publishers, cheap bookstores (I mean cheap as in 5 bucks for a book), food trucks, author speakings and signings, and a shitload of other cool stuff.

It’s really cool from a reader’s perspective to be able to stroll through and not worry about overspending on books (although I did drop my entire month’s entertainment budget on it… lol). But on a whole other level, being able to network with a few publishers and other folks as a writer was pretty invaluable.

And I’m gonna share what I found with you! Who said reading my blog didn’t have its perks? 😀

One really cool group I met with was SPAWN, the Small Publishers, Artists, and Writers Network. The woman I specifically spoke to was Kathleen Kaiser, who runs KKA. The breakdown is: SPAWN is a pay-to-enter group of publishers, artists, and writers who all are interested in communicating about what’s currently happening in publishing and marketing. It’s a great way to stay in touch with some of the smaller groups who are much more likely to publish your work, but it does run at a cost to subscribe to the group – to the tune of $75 (sorry all my fellow poor graduate homies).

KKA, on the other hand, is Kathleen Kaiser & Associates, a group run by Kathleen who represents both companies and authors for all their communications and publicity needs. They’ve introduced a new program called “Author Promote Thyself” where they’ll personally help you promote and sell your work through multiple media. Again, this is a paid thing, but hey, if you’re socially defunct like me, maybe you’ll want to give it a shot.

Next are two pretty sick competitions. The first is Writers of the Future, a SFF contest in which the winners are published in a collection of works backed and approved by L. Ron Hubbard, among other noted fantasy and science fiction writers. Winning this contest is essentially like getting your work read – and name recognized – by many prominent SFF writers.

The other contest is called The Launch Pad, and it accepts all genres (so my readers who aren’t SFF can have something to take a look at). Their goal is to help new-on-the-scene authors launch their careers by getting them looked at by some fairly significant screen and novel writers. Fairly significant as in Allison Gillogly from Ridley Scott’s production company, among others. One thing to be aware of is that this program is run by the Tracking Board, and so it will almost certainly have a Hollywood slant to it. If you’re in the top three spots, your work is guaranteed to be published, but it’s also possible you’ll be roped into a media deal for the rights.

Which, in all honesty, isn’t a bad thing. Just something to be aware of.

Next is a trio: Dreamspinner Press, Harmony Ink, and DSP Publications. These three are all run by a centralized managerial and support staff, but they’ve got their own slant. The unifying theme? All of them are LGBT-oriented genres and stories, so for anyone publishing queer fiction, you should absolutely check them out. Dreamspinner specifically does romance; DSP does sci-fi and fantasy (and caught my eye almost immediately), and from what I can tell, Harmony Ink does any kind of genre fiction. The LGBT themes are overt in a lot of the romance put out by Dreamspinner, but the woman running the stand told me the other branches don’t require explicit LGBT themes as long as one or more of the main characters are LGBTQ. So even if you’re writing non-LGBT oriented fiction, if you have queer main characters, you might consider submitting to them.

Then there’s Brick Cave Media. This group publishes sci-fi, fantasy, and poetry, and it’s clear to me they rep their authors because one of them greeted me when I walked into the booth. She ended up selling me her book as well as handing me some information for submission. Their open submission period is July 1 to September 30, so that should be just enough time for me to finish up my current writing project and make it all pretty and sparkly.

Finally, there was Austin Macauleyand if I’m being honest, they were my favorite. They’re a decently successful publishing company in the UK who just made the move into the US in January and are looking to take on new authors to establish a base here. Because they have an open submission policy, they take on any and all genres, and the two ladies staffing the booth were extremely nice in giving me literature about the company and taking down my information as an interested author. If you’ve done any research on the field, you know that new publishers and agents are a great way to get into the writing game because they’re always ready to work with up-and-comings, so this one is seriously a gold mine.

Well, that’s all I’ve got. A nice blend of publishers, contests, and groups for you. If you aren’t able to make it out to USC this weekend, consider this an abbreviated mini-festival, just for you.

Yours, with a fire lit under him,

-R.R. Buck

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