On the first day of Comic-Con 2013, one of the cool smaller panels that was held at the San Diego Convention Center was entitled “Geeks Get Published – and Paid”, featuring the following authors as panelists:
S. G. Browne – The author of dark comedy and social satire whose first book was a “rom-zom-com”, a romantic-zombie-comedy told from the point of view of a zombie. That was followed up by a black comedy about fate and destiny and his latest book about a man with the ability to steal other people’s luck with a simply handshake.
Bonnie Burton – The author of six books, primarily centered on Star Wars. She also writes comics and is a columnist for SFX, a British magazine that covers science fiction and fantasy.
Katrina Hill (aka Action Flick Chick) – The film critic, book author, reporter and web-comic star who loves action flicks and horror movies. She also writes for Crave Magazine and was rated by Twitter as one of the “ten most influential women” online.
Alex Langley – The author of “The Geek Handbook”, he also writes news, interviews and comics for the website Rocketllama.com.
Alan Kistler – The geek historian and consultant, who has three published books, is a frequent contributor to Comic Book Resources and a columnist for Agent of S.T.Y.L.E., which he created. He’s written several unofficial challenge books and is the author of Doctor Who: A History.
Dr. Travis Langley – The psychology professor at Henderson State University, makes regular presentations on the psychology of superheroes at conventions like Comic Con and his research includes studies of aggressive behavior and mass media, particularly the psychology of media fans.
With moderator Jenna Busch from Fanhattan at the helm, the authors first talked about how they got started with Bonnie sharing that she wrote anthologies about blogs before anyone took blogs seriously; S.G. got started in 2003 on his first book, but didn’t get published until 2006 with all three of his books actually starting out as short stories first; Katrina shared that she got started with her blog first and then a publisher came to her to write a book about her love of action flicks; Alex was approached to write the Geek Handbook and Alan was also offered to write a cookbook for Game of Thrones and Travis shared that his credentials helped him get into writing.
Each author then talked about whether they had an agent or not with the split being even between all of the panelists, each sharing their opinion on whether it was a help or a hindrance in having an agent. But one of the main pieces of advice that several of the authors agreed on was if you decide to get an agent, check out agentquery.com as they are the “internet’s most trusted database of literary agents:.
They then shared their tips on writing as follows:
• Bonnie simply saying “write, write, write” and “never turn down a writing job”;
• S.G. sharing that it’s best to “read like a writer…the broader (your) scope you have will enrich your life”;
• Katrina shared that its best to “write about what you love then it doesn’t feel like a job”;
• Alex shared that you should “read constantly, expose yourself to “stuff” that is really bad (so you won’t) be afraid to improve and acknowledge your weak points”;
• Alan shared to “make it personal, do what it is that you’ve got to do, but if you’re phoning it in, (anyone) can tell; and
• Travis shared its best “to listen to advice, get feedback and loving what you’re doing is important”.
Each author has also had different experiences with publishing – some going the self-publishing or e-book route while others have been published through the help of their agents, getting them publishing deals.
Needless to say, it was an interesting panel with authors who obviously love what they are doing and fellow geeks/nerds/pop culture enthusiasts who can dispense good advice to those of us who wish to follow in their footsteps.