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Lisa: What’s the purpose of the San Francisco Writing for Change Conference?
Mike: The theme of the conference is “Changing the World One Book at a Time.” The right book will change the world. We are besieged with huge domestic and international problems urgently in need of solutions. Government and business can’t provide them, so they have to come from the bottom up.
Writers are essential for providing the ideas, guidance, and inspiration we need, and they have instant access to however many of the three billion people on the Web read English. The world desperately needs all of the skill, creativity and perseverance writers can bring to the challenge. The Conference is limited to only 100 writers who come from around the country and abroad.
Lisa: What an exciting vision. Having worked in the nonprofit sector–and run a nonprofit for 10 years–I would have loved to have had the opportunity to attend this conference all those years ago! Writing was a big part of our work–since the written word was one of the main ways we reached and inspired people. Who should attend the Writing for Change Conference?
Mike: Fiction and nonfiction writers who want to use their writing to help bring about the personal, social, economic, political, and environmental changes we need in our communities, our country and the world.
Lisa: What’s the advantage of attending this conference over other more general writers conferences?
Mike: Like other writers conferences, the Change Conference has panels of authors, agents, editors and marketing people. Attendees can pitch their books to agents and editors. At the Change Conference, they receive more than 40 pages of handouts and can also receive free editorial and publicity consultations. The Change Conference costs less than most conferences.
Lisa: I noticed that–it’s a true bargain.
Mike: The presenters spend most of their speaking time giving attendees practical advice. Attendees can also call me any time after the conference if they have questions. The speakers and program are at www.sfwritingforchange.org.
As far as we know, it’s the only writers conference that focuses on writing for change. Considering the urgency of our problems, it may be the most needed writers conference in the world.
Lisa: What’s your advice for writers attending the Conference–any tips for them to get the most of their experience?
Mike: 1. Be clear about your literary and financial goals: what you want to write and how you want it published.
2. Be prepared to absorb of lot of state-of-the-art information you need to give your work maximum impact.
3. Work on your pitch, up to 30 seconds of concise answers to two questions: why the book and why you.
Lisa: How does the Writing for Change Writers Conference make a difference for attendees?
Mike: The Conference is in its sixth year because feedback from attendees assures us that it’s very helpful in:
• Providing information they need
• Enabling them to network with agents and editors they can contact when their proposal or manuscript for a novel is ready
• Creating lasting relationships with other writers
• Inspiring writers to pursue their mission
Having worked in publishing in New York, been an agent for more than forty years, writing or coauthoring eleven books, and being the co-director of the San Francisco Writers Conference—now in its twelfth year, I know that writers have the same questions and challenges. This jam-packed day is the most effective way to help them at the least cost.
In 2008, Cami Walker met her agent, Rita Rosenkranz, and her editor, Katie McHigh, who bought her book 29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life. The next year, 29 Gifts made the New York Times extended bestseller list.
Lisa: I love fairy tale endings like that–especially when it’s about making a difference. Thanks, Mike. Having been part of last year’s San Francisco Writers Conference, I can attest to what a standout conference you, Elizabeth and all the volunteers put together–in terms of inspiration, a thrilling experience and the practical information one picks up. I’m sure Writing for Change will be the same–and even more targeted for those focused on providing solutions and creating change. Readers can check out the San Francisco Writing for Change Conference and feel free to ask questions of Mike as a comment below.
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