Yesterday I attended the first day of a two-day Author 101 conference. I was looking forward to it, not only because it would get me out of a day of work, but because the focus was supposed to be on marketing, which naturally appealed to me.
What a rip-off. Instead of offering strategies that would be helpful to authors, the whole focus was on how to write a book in 30 days (imagine the quality?) and then sell that piece of crap through the Internet using the get-rich-quick techniques they’ll tell us if we enroll in their very expensive future seminar. (And, of course, there was plenty of “Enroll today and get…” bullshit.) With the exception of one speaker named David Hancock, who actually seemed to know a little about the writing world, it was essentially a day-long infomercial; the author’s equivalent of sitting through a timeshare presentation.
I’ve been around the writing circles long enough to know there are plenty of people out there preying on writers, and every writer should research Predators and Editors before querying agents, signing contracts with publishers, or enlisting the services needed to self-publish. So I ended up walking out during one of the afternoon speaker’s pitches for blah, blah, blah… and the guy at the registration desk could tell I’m a bitch on wheels, so I supposedly will get a refund. I’d better. But even though I’ll get my $179 (!) back, I’m still pissed as hell.
You can’t rip people off in this economy. You just can’t—it’s immoral. And I’ll tell you what really burned my ass (to use my mother’s expression) was that one of the offenders was Mark Victor Hansen, the co-creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. He spoke for about 45 minutes, 44 of which was a pitch for a $2000 workshop he’s offering next month. He told us all about what we’d be learning… next month. But hello, guess what? We all paid good money to learn something TODAY.
On top of that, every two seconds he’d tell us to do something, like “Touch your heart and say, ‘I can do it!’” and “If you agree say, ‘Yeah!’” like goddamn Simon Says. I’m not kidding, that guy annoyed the crap out of me. I really felt he was totally full of bullshit, even when he was speaking about all the charity work his organization does, and don’t even get me going about how he’d pepper his infomercial with spiritual overtones and abundance-speak. Really, the nerve of him spouting that shit while he’s ripping people off.
In contrast David Hancock, the one good speaker I heard, talked about how authors must be at the service of their readers and encourage personal contact. It’s important to develop a relationship, he said, and to give readers much more than they expect. Mark Victor Hansen was obviously there to serve himself and I sure as hell didn’t expect a 44 minute pitch session. My opinion: there's something sleazy about this guy. Just my opinion.
I did learn from him, though—what not to do. Violating your readers’ trust is unconscionable, and I want my readers to trust that whatever I have to offer is of the highest quality I can possibly produce. Okay, some of my blog posts are total vile, crude and tasteless shit, but you're not paying for this and I can tell you with all my heart that my book is funny, poignant, and well written. And if you don’t agree with me, send it back and I will be happy to refund your money.
I’m a Chicken Soup contributor, you know.
I feel kinda dirty.