Reflections on a Writer’s Conference

Another CAPA-U conference is in the books and the daylong event featured a powerful keynote, a thought-provoking agents’ roundtable and a variety of workshops related to craft, publishing and marketing.

CAPA is the Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association. CAPA is made up of aspiring and published book authors, journalists, freelance writers, poets, and playwrights, as well as editors, agents, publishers and other professionals who meet regularly to enhance mutual growth and success.

The 2012 CAPA-U kicked off with a moving keynote by noted Connecticut author, professor, and editor Lary Bloom, who spoke about his struggles to find a way to write about his experiences serving in Vietnam. Bloom was a supply lieutenant in the U.S. Army. His childhood friend and Hebrew school classmate, Harmon Polster, was in the Air Force. Polster’s plane was shot down and he was officially MIA until recently when his bones were identified. Bloom finally was able to express his experiences through a play, Wild Black Yonder, that premiered at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center in Old Saybrook, CT.

The most powerful way to bring the horrors of war to the reader, he said, is to personalize them. This hit Bloom after talking to Polster’s widow. “The story I would tell affected only a few people. But I had to keep reminding myself that it was a worthy enterprise—that the small story stood for a much larger tragedy,” he said.

Bloom’s stirring keynote was followed by the agents’ roundtable. Of course, the two leading topics were the Department of Justice lawsuit against Apple and the Big Six publishers and the growing impact of Amazon on the publishing industry. The agents were universal in their criticism of the DOJ lawsuit, which they said was based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the agency model and the economics of publishing.They saved their harshest criticism for Amazon, which they described as a company that cares nothing about publishers and authors and is bent on driving publishers out of business by taking a loss on book sales to gain market share.

In response to a question about the changing role of agents, several agents said they are more valuable than ever to authors. Agents are the author’s advocate. They understand the business and are experienced at negotiating the most favorable contracts for their author clients.

In addition to the learning that goes on, a writer’s conference is an opportunity to renew old acquaintances and make new contacts. It was fun to catch up with old friends and find out what they were working on and to meet new people. In fact, one of the sessions featured an agent and author who met at CAPA two years ago and the meeting led to a book deal for the author.

I have to do this more often.

What do you find the most beneficial impact of a writer’s conference?



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5 responses to “Reflections on a Writer’s Conference

  1. I mostly go now if I am on a panel/speaking engagement, and I love doing that. I think I won’t love it – I think I will be nervous (and I always am) but I always learn something just by getting up there and opening up my pea-headed brain mouth, and by listening to the others. And I meet some wonderful people.

    My favorite conference of them all, so far, has been the On the Brink writer’s conference in Jacksonville, Ala, at the university. They treated us authors so well, and the audience was wonderful – the entire conference was such a positive experience! I’d do it again in a minute (plus, I was interviewed on Alabama public tv by Don Noble while there! oh excitement~! :-D)

    • Kat,
      Thanks for your comments. I’ve never presented at a writer’s conference, though I am on a three member panel on e-publishing that is sold out tonight at the West Hartford Public Library. Public speaking doesn’t phase me. I used to be on public television regularly when I was a State Capitol reporter.

      Though I enjoy the CAPA conference I feel I am outgrowing it. I talked to a writer friend Sunday who went to the Grubb Street conference in Boston and she said it was fabulous: two days of programming and lots of authors and agents, though she had to pay for a one on one with an agent.

      Thanks again for your comment.

      • how exciting! You of course will be brilliant 😀

        Years back, I used to work with capital outlay and often had to go to committee meetings at the capitol – ungh -hated it! 😀

      • Thanks. Looking forward to it. We are going to do a live demonstration by uploading our group’s short story anthology, 13 Stories, now available on Amazon. I’ll send you a PDF copy of my story, Solid Gold.

      • Or I’ll buy the collection to support y’all!

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