Last week, I attended the Tarcher-Perigree Publishing and Creativity Conference for Writers. My thoughts…
This conference held approximately 100-150 people in one room. Workshops, forums, and talks were intimate. You could approach organizers. There was time for questions.
The size of the conference encouraged networking. One could quickly garner what different people’s interests were. I managed to connect with an indie YA novelist who lives practically up the road from me. Having one more local connection has led to trying to set up a local writer’s networking group.
Tarcher is an inspiration/spirituality/parenting/mind-body publisher. There was a big percentage of participants interested in that type of book. That is not my bag. However, the participants were not all in self-help and I met novelists and memoirists. Tarcher’s connection to Penguin allowed the organizers to speak to a range of interests and books.
Keynote speakers were good. Came from Tarcher’s authors. Non-fiction. Mind/body. Inspiration.
Penguin is a big publishing house, and they have a big house mentality. Forums discussed topics like marketing and positioning. It can be a heady, overwhelming world. If you attend, expect to be encouraged by some speakers, but also gain an insight into the narrow concerns of the big-house. Can your book make them money? Can you, as a person, make your book move off the shelves?
Everybody, no matter where they are in the writing process, gets to participate in pitch workshops and sessions (no added cost). That’s an important exercise.
Keep in mind, the actual pitch session will be with a Penguin editor. My sense from chatting to organizers is that they are almost 100% certain not there to acquire any titles. They will, however, give you direct feedback, if you actually want it. No agent pitches.
That said, I think almost no acquisitions are made at writing conferences. Pitches are the carrot dangled in front of writers. I think most people will have a better experience if they participate in the pitches, but be realistic.
Advance registration was about $100. That makes this a reasonable alternative to some larger conferences held in the summer in NYC.
Big house expertise
Tarcher is part of Penguin. I got a better understanding of how a big house works. You will learn about a book’s life-cycle, including the many hands on any individual title. An old adage about making sausage might come to mind … Speakers were definitely top-of-the-field professionals. Including writers, art directors, marketing, sales, managing editors, and a representative agent…
Venue and atmosphere
I commend Tarcher. Everything was very well-organized and seam-less. The aim was truly informational. I didn’t have any sense as an attendee of an alternative motive other than to offer insight into the publishing and writing world.
Would I attend it again? Probably not if the line-up and emphasis remains similar… Interesting, but once may be enough. I had some take-aways about marketing and networking. I am not sure another year would add to what I garnered. However, I will keep an eye on it and may reconsider. Would I recommend it other writers? Yes, if they want insight into traditional publishing or to network.