In 2015, staff at Chanticleer Authors Conference paused the annual Awards Banquet and took participants outside to gaze at the moon. “A supermoon was going on, and everyone left their tables and walked outside to see it,” explains director Kiffer Brown. “Our conference hotel is right on the lake. People were sending up lanterns into the sky, and there was this brilliant, beautiful moon. It was very special.”
The 5-year-old conference on Bellingham Bay on the northwest coast of Washington teaches authors about marketing, book publicity, and publishing. While emerging writers are welcome, they won’t find workshops on how to write a sentence or start a book. Instead, they’ll learn how to promote their work in a myriad of ways – through in-person events, word-of-mouth, and a great deal of social media outreach. Many of the attendees are authors who’ve published and won awards, and they need to know how to get their books into the hands of more readers.
“We’re more about the business side of writing,” Brown explains. “If we do bring in people to talk about craft, it’s at a very high level.”
Participants soak up industry information in a beautiful location. Bellingham sits between Vancouver, B.C., and Seattle, and the hotel in which the conference is located has a view of the Pacific Ocean and the Cascade Mountains. Participants are only a ferry ride away from Victoria, B.C. – a city famed for its Victorian architecture and lush gardens.
What you’ll learn at Chanticleer Authors Conference
Over three full days, attendees enjoy a wealth of classes. “We talk about everything from editing to book covers to getting blurbs to social media platforms, plus how to do book launches and create and sustain book buzz,” Brown says. “The book is an author’s intellectual property, but that should just be the beginning. We explore how to get your book streamed as a digital series like Stranger Things, how to merchandise with stuffed animals if you’ve written a children’s book or with cookware if you’ve written a cookbook.”
In 2017, Nicole Evelina talked with authors about how to use the image-heavy social network Pinterest to develop their stories and their writing career. Terry Persun taught a session titled “Befriending the Giant (Amazon),” and Michele Renee taught “Storytelling through Video Games: An interactive new way to reach audiences.”
Other workshops focus on improving dialogue, deepening characterization, and how to write an effective sex scene. Master Class sessions on Sunday allow for more in-depth writing practice over seven hours. The awards banquet and an ongoing book fair give participants the opportunity to socialize and network informally and to meet best-selling authors face-to-face.
New York Times best-seller Robert Dugoni is a regular at Chanticleer Authors Conference. Writer and psychotherapist Margie Lawson will present in 2018, as will Kathy L. Murphy – founder of The Pulpwood Queen & Timber Guys Book Club.
In 2017, the conference welcomed novelist and playwright C.C. Humphreys, author and PR manager Fox Deatry, and film producer Diane Sillan Isaacs. Brown expects many presenters to return in 2018. Check the website for an updated list of both presenters and educational sessions.
Advice for first-timers at Chanticleer
Brown advises people attending Chanticleer Authors Conference to be prepared to network. “We have authors across the board, from indie publishing to small presses to the big five publishers,” she says. “Introduce yourself to other authors so that you can review each other’s work and promote each other. We call it ‘playing together.’”
Potential attendees may want to enter one of Chanticleer’s many writing contests as well. Judges award the winner of the Overall Chanticleer Best Book Award Annual Grand Prize a check for $1,000.
Lest emerging writers feel put off by the focus on promoting published work, Brown assures them that participants in the conference get so close that they feel like family. “We use #ChanticleerFamily on social media,” she says. “The authors attending here are so supportive. That’s the culture we try to foster at this conference; a rising tide lifts all boats.”
Contributing editor Melissa Hart is the author of the middle-grade novel Avenging the Owl (Sky Pony, 2016) and an editor/consultant at Creator & Collector Services. Web: melissahart.com.