Saturday, May 10, 2014

Perseverance and the Ohioana Book Festival

Okay, after taking a week off for some much needed downtime, I’m back to blogging and excited to talk about the 2014 Ohioana Book Festival.  This was my first time going to the festival and I have to say that it exceeded my expectations (even though they were really high to begin with).  My only regret is that I didn’t start attending this festival years earlier!

The Ohioana festival brings together Ohio writers of all genres and allows attendees to peruse books, chat with the authors and attend panel discussions with many of the writers.  When I first looked at the schedule, I couldn’t believe how many YA writers there were from Ohio (and of course there are many more who couldn’t make the festival).  I remember that when I first started writing, I felt like all the “real” writers must live in NY or Los Angeles and I wondered how a normal girl from central Ohio could ever break into the business.  Well, I haven’t exactly broken in yet, but it was so inspiring to see all of the YA writers who have been published and are doing enormously well!  There are multiple authors living right here in Columbus and for some reason I just find it so cool to think that the same people who go to my library and shop at my grocery store could also be writing YA just like me.  If they can do it, then maybe there’s hope!

I was lucky enough to be able to sit in on all 4 (!) YA panel discussions and I found each of them so fascinating.  I could easily sit and listen to other writers discuss their writing process all day long.  (In fact, I did that exact thing today.)  Everyone has a different story about how they write and how they became published, but one of the themes I heard was perseverance.  Although a few authors were able to get published relatively early in their careers, the vast majority spoke about all of the books they wrote that never saw the light of day, all of the query letters they wrote that received form rejections, and the years that they spent writing before ever getting a publishing deal.  Some people may find that depressing or daunting (and maybe it is), but I actually love hearing these stories.  It reminds me that I’m not the only one going through these issues and that perseverance is truly one of the most important parts of this business.

Although listening to the book panels was great, probably my favorite part of the day was the chance to speak one-on-one with many of the authors.  I wasn’t able to get to all of them, but I did speak with many and they were all so welcoming and encouraging.  Many of them gave me great advice, including a comp title for the book I’m currently working on and info about blogs and websites that I might use in the future.  It was also great to put a face with a book and see them as real people with families and jobs, just like the rest of us. 

Now I can’t wait to read all of their books!!

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