Sunday, July 15, 2012

Top 10 Lessons Learned at UtopYACon 2012

Last weekend, I was sitting among a wonderful group of authors, bloggers and PR representatives at the first annual UtopYACon. The conference, held in Nashville, TN at the Scarritt Bennett Center, honored female writers of YA paranormal and fantasy. I attended as an author panelist and ridiculous fan-girl. 

Just as awesome as the panels were the off-site dinner outings with some of the friendliest, most boisterous authors I've ever met. It was worth the trip for those experiences alone! I thought it might be helpful to share some of the things I took away from the conference with those of you who were unable to attend.

Here's my Top 10 list:

1.  When it comes to POV, don't be afraid to experiment. Focus on how the story is playing out in your head before you start writing. If you're thinking of it in the first person, write it that way. You won't know what works best until you try!

2.  All authors go through the same struggles...the self-doubt, the exhaustion, the rapture of finishing a book. Whether they're traditionally published or indie, whether they've sold thousands of books or are still waiting to publish their first one, authors have more in common than you'd ever believe.

3.  A custom playlist offers a creative marketing avenue. With Apple offering the ability to embed songs into iBooks, many authors are finding songs that tie closely into important scenes and then including them in the books. Just be careful of copyright laws when doing this!

4.  Paranormal fiction is here to stay. There will be cycles of what forms of paranormal and fantasy fiction are the most popular, but there will always be an interest in this genre.

5.  Myra McEntire can command a room. The author of Hourglass and Timepiece gave the keynote speech and included a short video of 40 authors holding up handmade signs reading, "You Can Do It" while "The Fighter" by Gym Class Heroes played in the background. Talk about inspired!

6.  Readers believe that there's still a place for the "damsel in distress." The key is that the damsel can't be completely helpless. She needs to do some rescuing of her own.

7.  One of the best things an author can do to promote their work is to promote the work of others. It's a "You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours," kind of thing. People don't want to see someone constantly promoting their own work. Get out there and start supporting your author friends. What goes around, comes around!

8.  I can go total fan-girl but still manage to speak coherently. I sat next to Myra McEntire on a panel about "A Day in the Life of a YA Author." The entire time, I just wanted to listen to her talk. Somehow, I managed to put together some intelligent-sounding feedback. (I think).

9.  Book trailers are definitely worth having (if you do them well). Make sure they're no longer than 60-80 seconds long, use appropriate, compelling music and images, limit the text to avoid giving too much away, and be sure to provide images of the book cover (complete with your name and where to buy it).

10. I'll definitely be going back next year.

This was an amazing experience, y'all. Don't miss out on next year's conference, which is already scheduled for June 28-30th, 2013. Tickets are only $30 if you're among the first to get them--and they're worth every penny! You can buy them here if you're ready to join me. I hope to see you there!

What tips do you have for writers? Please share!


  1. I really want to go next year! So happy that UtopYA went well! My biggest suggestion for writers is be innovative. None of the new ideas would ever have happened if there hadn't been that one person who did it first and made someone else thing "Wow, that's a good idea."

  2. Great advice, Emma! I sure hope you make it out to the conference next year. It's so worth it!