Challenge,  publishing

My Talk At 20To50 Conference

I Only Did One…

Lasted 45 minutes. That’s all they wanted me to do it seems even though I said I would be happy to do more and I wasn’t charging them and I live right here in Vegas. So I did the one talk, then came back out the next day and sat around talking with friends in Subway for most of the day.

Great conversations in my personal  SubwayCon with Kevin Anderson, Todd McCaffery, Lyn Worthen, Mark from D2D, Damon from Bookfunnel, and a few others.

My one talk was on Attitude of a Fiction Writer. They supposedly recorded it, since I was under very bright lights, so you should be able to find it somewhere eventually.

I had nine bullet points I talked about with Attitude. Here they are.

1… Sustainability

2… Have Fun

3… Never Write to Market, Write What You Love

4… Defend Your Work

5… Believe in Your Work

6… Dare to Be Bad

7… Heinlein’s Rules

8… Nobody Cares, Thus You Have Total Freedom

9… Calm Down and Don’t Get in a Hurry.

I guess Kris and I were sort of counter-culture programming. Most of those points on attitude fly in the face of the attitudes taught at that conference by so many. But I do think that’s good because it’s good for writers to hear all sides of every business.




  • Tony DeCastro

    Look forward to seeing video of it. Even though I’ve probably heard most of it in the Attitude Workshop (btw, highly recommend it, people). I loved your Writing into the Dark presentation last year, as did many members of 20Booksto50K, as I understand. And I agree, differing perspectives are always good…even if they only serve to reinforce your own perspective. But, you can learn new things from just about anywhere, unless you stop trying to learn. Hopefully, attendees have that attitude about your differing views.

  • T Thorn Coyle

    I know you don’t read reviews, but people on YouTube liked the talk, and your “Have fun” made one of the “best quotes of the conference” list. People liked Kris’s talk, too, though I haven’t found that on YouTube yet. They’re adding them as audio etc get processed.

    Here it is:

    In following the Facebook group, I actually find the 20Books audience to be pretty open to finding what works. Sure there are trends there, like everywhere else, but the writers are hungry for stories and tips from successful people. You and Kris certainly qualify. Adding longevity into the mix of the sudden success stories has to be good.

  • Kate Pavelle

    A mentor speaking about “not writing to market” at 20to50K evokes an image of a cat in a room of rocking chairs! I commend you on your counter-programming effort. I’ve seen two curious trends regarding the “write to market” vs. “write your heart out” schools of thought:

    1. On their FB site, the thought has shifted from “research the richest trend and chase it” to “decide on your genre, research the sub-genres, read the best-sellers to understand the plot structure, see which tropes sell well, and see if any of them *excite* you enough to be happy to write them. So I see some continental drift, which is a lot nicer than the former extreme.

    2. In my own experience, “books of the heart” which aren’t huge sellers often have really enthusiastic followers who will buy everything I write. They are small in number, but they keep asking for more. The “generic” romance books I have committed have provided a boost to the bottom line, but no follow-through. They are forgettable precisely because they are comfort reads and don’t reveal any huge surprises.

    I think a lot depends on the audience’s mental state. In a period of calm prosperity, people will reach for disturbing, speculative fiction because they are relaxed enough to sit back and think without feeling personally affronted. During a contentious electoral year, I see the “Take me away, Calgon!” books do a lot better, even if only in the short run. I think the average reader wants to just tune out and have a vicarious romance on a tropical island (or a deep space shoot-em-up, depending on what they consider an escapist fantasy).
    And, to be perfectly honest… my writing preferences tend to lean that way too. I am stressed out enough with the real world as it is, and when I escape into my writing, I prefer a world where my characters have that extra super-power edge. Or where things are uncomplicated (but that gets boring after a while.)

  • Teri Babcock

    “I guess Kris and I were sort of counter-culture programming. Most of those points on attitude fly in the face of the attitudes taught at that conference by so many.”

    Yes, and I hope people picked up on the difference as to Who was saying What. I don’t believe you’d find any writer who has made a living for 20 years at writing say any different than what Dean says above. And there’s still a whole lot of people with very little experience and some short term success who feel they are in a position to instruct others.

    Just makes me even more grateful to Dean and Kris for their commitment to teaching and willingness to explore different models like online classes.

  • Rick Grant

    I’d like to say how very much I enjoyed and appreciated the talk you gave on that video from the conference.

    It was, to the the point, clear, evidence backed, and engaging. I cannot think that it violated any canonical thinking among the people there, other than a few midnight raiders who won’t last long.

    As you allude, the “don’t write to market” message might have been triggering for some. But, I can say from personal experience that people who feel like that have not spent much time writing deliberately to a calculated and cynical plan. In the early 90’s I spent a year in Los Angeles as a script doctor on a variety of Saturday morning animated shows. Although I was paid by BMW’s pulling trailers full of gold up to the door, I am still to this day knocking bits of charcoal off my abused soul.

    Thanks for the wisdom. I really do appreciate it.

  • Brian Drake

    Your presentation was amazingly helpful and I will watch the video several times for what I missed and what needs to be reinforced. Thanks for coming to 20Books!