Seminar Vs. Self-Publishing

As I'm preparing to go to another writer's seminar it occures to me that I could have self-published with all the money I've spent. But then I knew that from the beginning. With the money I spent on my first seminar/writer's retreat I could have published my entire trilogy. So why did I choose to go instead of publish? I wanted my book to be the best it could be and I figured I had room for improvement.

I know what you're thinking. A ton of great books get passed over because publishers are looking for something specific, and that is true. Trust me, that's not why they were passing over my book. First I must say, I'm a huge supporter of self-publishing. Several of my friends are self-published and their work is fantastic. The literary world would be lacking without their books. I'm glad they chose to self-publish.

So how did I know my money would be spent better improving my craft rather than self-publishing?  A good friend of mine was kind enough to read through it and point out several issues, big issues. He recommended the Hawaii Writer's Retreat (Maui Writer's Retreat at the time). I figured if there were big issues with my novel there were no doubt little ones too. I went for it.

My work improved so much if you read the two different versions of my book you would think they're by different people. In the pre-retreat draft I had severe issues with adverbs and adjectives, point of view problems, and voice and pacing issues. That one retreat fixed all of those issues, and taught me how to pitch in person. One retreat! So when it came time for it in 2009 I jumped on the opportunity to go again. I wanted to improve even more! Why settle for just getting writing a publishable book when I could write a bestseller? The second retreat helped me improve even more.

As many of you know, I'm now I'm getting ready for a different kind of seminar alltogether. It's an advanced class taught by New York Times Bestselling thriller writer, William Bernhardt. I can hardly wait for Monday to take my writing to the next level again!

What has all this investment done for me so far? Besides improved my writing exponentially, it has helped me get a fantastic agent who is now shopping my YA trilogy around publishing houses. Those of you who are querying for agents know that is priceless.

Check out Mr. Bernhardt's seminar here:


  1. I think writer's retreats are probably a very good investment. When I was first starting out many moons ago, I was involved with an online writer's workshop. It was more of a sweat equity thing, and it too me several years (not one weekend) but I finally learned how to write something that wasn't cluttered with adverbs and written in the dreaded passive voice and had an actual, logical plot. Invaluable lessons, but they took a long time to learn.

  2. Any way you can get that experience is excellent!

    The retreats/seminar's I've gone to are week long intensive workshops where you're placed with a NY Times bestseller and about nine other students. Its very hands on and very eye opening. They don't pull punches because they don't have time to. I love the atmosphere and just can't get enough of it!

    Online workshops are a great way to go if you don't have time or money to go attend in person. No matter how fast or slow you want to go or how much you have to spend, there's something out there for everyone!

    Bravo to you Alissa for making that committment to your writing!

  3. A self-published book is only successful if it's good. You need to be at your best to make it work for you.

    Some authors balk at a suggestion that their work is less than stellar, so I think it's great that you decided to do whatever it took to make your book the best it could be. Shows what a great catch you are for that agent of yours!


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