During this time of pandemic, writing has become a major source of solace and distraction. Focusing on my made up world of Thyrein’s Galactic Wall, and the lives of its denizens, has allowed me to focus my mind on fun things, rather than be engulfed in the ever present anxieties of the never-ending-plague.
The writing community, and the various retreats, workshops, and conferences it offers, has been a place to hone my skills as a writer and to watch how the industry is evolving in the new normal of our post-covid world. Many things have changed in the publishing industry, and staying in tune with the business side of things has also made me ponder what new avenues authors, and authorpeneurs, will take in this dynamic new world.
The fellowship, and ongoing offerings, of the writing community run by Max Regan and Rosa Glenn Reilly have been the safety net for me as 2020 and 2021 have progressed. The three yearly bootcamps, plus the retreat in June, and the monthly classes, have kept me engaged and learning. More than that, being in this community of writers has made me take my own writing career more seriously than ever before.
Being the head of the Houston Writers Guild has also motivated me as the pandemic has drawn on. Putting together the conferences HWG offers allows me to network and connect to many industry professionals. It also brings awareness of what the industry is doing, and how important it is for our members to stay up to date on the changes.
Marketing your books, finding reviewers and bloggers to help spread the word, developing a vibrant author platform, and connecting to other formats like audio book or the filmmaking industry, are all key elements that career-minded authors need to know. So as the date for the second conference of the year drew near, the board and I focused on making it as comprehensive as we could. The Indiepalooza line-up turned out truly jam packed with amazing sessions.
We desperately wanted it to be an in person event. So many of us are fighting off zoom fatigue. Unfortunately, all of our presenters ended up coming to us virtually. We had, literally, none who wanted to do their session in person. Paying a venue cost so we could all sit and stare at a screen together felt foolish, and not the best allocation of resources. So, Indiepalooza will need to be virtual.
This made me think about the future. The road ahead will bring with it in person learning conferences and other events. But it can’t over look the power of the virtual event. Yes, it isn’t as nice in terms of networking options and such. Hard to meet and get to know people in square digital boxes. But, the virtual events allow us to bring in presenters from places we could never afford to fly in — like the cover designer who will be with us at Indiepalooza who lives in Australia. And it allows people who aren’t able to travel to attend the event.
I don’t know whether we will find a way to do a hybrid event, or simply choose to do a virtual one yearly amongst the other programming we offer, but I know the digital conference will not go completely away. The digital space offers opportunities we should not toss out the window. The future will look different, and perhaps it will be that much better now that we have gone through this mess.
PS: If you are a writer and wish to check out the lineup of the upcoming Indiepalooza 2021 conference — scheduled for the weekend of October 9–11 — you can visit the event brite page here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/indiepalooza-2021-tickets-167939466465