Thursday, November 4, 2010

Redwood Writers Conference Part 2: Teresa LeYung Ryan

Teresa LeYung Ryan wears many hats: novelist, manuscript consultant, writing career coach and publisher. The premise of her workshop 'Build My Name, Beat the Game' was to help us develop a platform. Asking people from the audience to stand with placards, she visually demonstrated the complex web of players on the path to publication, from author to agent to acquisition editor; from publisher to marketer to bookseller.

Books are no longer published based simply on the merit of their writing, Ryan explained. The industry chooses books based on marketing strategies: "Even fiction writers have to market 'issues' now." Creating a mission statement, she said, could push your writing beyond publication into publicity.

Her book Love Made of Heart was written "to inspire adult-children of mentally ill parents to speak openly about the stigmas that their parents suffer." Using her story of immigration, domestic violence and mental illness, her mission statement is: "Through my writing, I speak for those who cannot speak for themselves." Depending on her audience when speaking about the novel, she adapts her statement accordingly -- "I help... mothers and daughters speak from the heart...survivors of family violence find their own voice..."

As writing career coach, Ryan's motto is "Reach out, not stress out, when building your name." Here's how:

 Take a sheet of paper and divide it into three sections.
  1. In the first column write WHO: mentors, endorsers, advocates. These are the people who can promote your work. My list includes family and friends, MFA instructors and colleagues, blog readers, Facebook 'friends', fellow travel writers, professional groups, local bookstores, industry professionals, librarians, favorite authors. 
  2. In the next column write WHAT: my name, my themes, my platform. This one is a bit trickier. Mine are: travel writer; women's empowerment; sharing resources and information; inspiration for writers. 
  3. In the third column write WHERE: places to show my name. These could be your email's signature block; publishing timely work in professional newsletters or local/national papers; public speaking; online and in-person networking; public readings; and book reviews. Hint: booksellers pull reader reviews from to put on their websites!
Back to her novelist hat Ryan told us, "Create a bible of books to remind you of why you write. Buy copies of your favorite books and study how they were written." Maxine Hong Kingston is one of her models of inspiration, as well as Elisa Southard's Break Through the Noise, which Ryan referred to as "inner noise." For more tips, click on Teresa's blog.


Julie A. Winrich said...

Nicole, Great article on the workshop. She taught us so much in one hour. And you can get so much information from her website and blog. Keep Writing, Julie A. Winrich, Helping readers to enjoy sleuthing and solve puzzles.

Robin Moore said...

That's quite a message from Ryan's talk at the conference. A real eye-opener.
Have also heard her speak at the Writers Forum in Petaluma. Great speaker!

lakeviewer said...

Interesting approach!

lakeviewer said...

p.s. We are no longer just writing; we are fighting for celebrity/messenger status for a cause, a point of view, a purpose. Interesting twist.

Teresa LeYung Ryan said...

Nicole, thank you so much for writing this great recap of my workshop at Redwood Writers Conference! And your recap of Elisa Southard's keynote speech. All wonderful! Let's link our sites. I'll see you on facebook too!
Cheers from Manuscript Consultant/Writing Career Coach Teresa LeYung Ryan.

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