Quills & Queues by Angela Howe-Decker
Ashland is loaded with people who are writing or have written a book. While writing a book is not easy, those who do finish a manuscript are often stumped afterward, wondering how to get people to read it.
This is where local authors Alissa Lukara and Shoshana Alexander come in. Professional writers and marketing specialists, they are offering monthly drop-in workshops titled "How to Develop, Publish and Promote Your Book." The sessions take place from 6 to 7 p.m. on the second Monday of every month, May through October, in the Guanajuato Room at the Ashland library, 410 Siskiyou Blvd.
For $10 a session, Lukara and Alexander share their expertise to help writers launch their fledgling books. Lukara said the sessions are aimed at anyone who has questions about publishing.
"The workshop is for all levels, people who are thinking about writing and want to know what's involved, people who are writing and want to know their publishing options," she said. She hopes the informal question-and-answer sessions will help authors not only publish their work, but successfully market their work as well.
"We want to share our insights on how to develop a book in a way that it is more likely to get published, and how to develop an audience for your book, a writer's platform, that is the audience you bring to a potential publisher before you are published," said Lukara.
A former public relations executive, Lukara has used her writing and marketing skills to publish a memoir, create a Web site and lead a number of writing workshops in the Rogue Valley. She and Alexander decided to team up while working together in a writing group. Alexander is the author of several books, most recently "Awakening Joy," with James Baraz. She has worked as a developmental editor and writing coach, and facilitates fiction and nonfiction writing groups.
The first workshop took place on May 10. The four writers who dropped in all had books in various stages of completion. While they were curious about publishing, they also had questions ranging from how to market online to how to stay motivated enough to complete a book.
Sandra Baker came to the class hoping to get an assessment of her book so far. "As an author, it is often hard to evaluate your own writing and organization, so I jumped at the chance for them to see my subject, table of contents, and a bit of text," Baker said. "They both were extremely enthusiastic."
In teaching similar workshops over the years, Alexander has noticed some common writers' questions.
"People often ask, can I do this? Can I write this book and will it be publishable?" she said.
"I tell them the bad news is it is difficult to publish with mainstream book publishers these days, but the good news is there are a lot of options with self-publishing," she said.
While there is still a stigma attached to self-publishing, attitudes are changing, Alexander said. "People are a lot more accepting of self-published books. There are still some problems in terms of getting reviews, but self-published books like 'The Celestine Prophecy' and 'Chicken Soup for the Soul' have helped change attitudes for the better."
Both Lukara and Alexander agreed that there is much more to writing a book than writing a book. Lukara emphasized the importance of marketing. "It's not enough to be a good writer," she said. "We want to encourage people and also provide a reality check. It's hard for people to promote themselves, but it's a reality of today's marketplace. There are so many ways to market a book, even if you're an introvert. The important thing is to share your message."
Alexander acknowledged that "it all comes down to marketing," but added, "I feel like it is important to develop the craft of writing. I hope after our sessions those who are still writing their books can come away with a sense of clarity about what they want to convey with the book. It is a profound, transformative process to write a book. It should be worth the trees."
For further information, contact Lukara at 541-324-6370.
Angela Howe-Decker is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.