I have been in Houston for about three weeks now and these three weeks had been pretty active doing various things that I intend to write about, but this was probably the most interesting thing that I participated in till now. Last week, while looking for a book for work, I went to Barnes & Noble located across the street from my hotel and got hold of the Barnes & Noble Events newsletter and learnt about the upcoming writing workshop there. The events looked inviting and interesting. They all involved local writers, prominent writers, poets and kids. I was anyway spending a lot of time with my Indian colleagues and friends so decided to make it to the Friday event where Wayne Holmes a compilation writer was going to talk about ‘Everything you wanted to know about Compiling a Book’, and I could not have asked for a better topic. I was game for his writing workshop.
On Friday 7 PM I landed in Barnes & Noble, but was not sure if it was an open event or was meant for members only, but the Linda, the lady who was coordinating the event welcomed me with a warm smile and confirmed that I can be a part of the writing workshop. Wayne was then busy signing his new book for his readers. I met some local writers and came to know a bit about the writer’s group and about their regular meetings, meetings with known writers and how they review and critique each other’s work and help each other evolve as writers.
Wayne is a good speaker, his talk was light, informative and he kept making efforts to ensure no one is sleeping. His talk covered the whole gamut of compiling a book, when you are taking stories from various writers and putting them together in the form of a book. He shared his struggle to become a writer and how he was rejected for years together before his proposal was accepted by a publisher. More important than his struggle was the lessons that he learnt during his rejection years and the experiences that gave him insights into ‘what to do and what not to do’ to get your proposal accepted. He touched upon the importance of having a few known names in your compilation to ensure that it attracts eye balls at the book stores. He spoke about the terms and conditions that you negotiate with the contributors and how to help them grow to ensure success for yourself. He tried to break some of the myths that people have in their minds about compilations and made a strong point when he said that the largest selling book in the world i.e. is a compilation by 66 authors. He also talked about the small tips that book compilers can use to organize information, on how to get good stories, how to organize stories and how to ensure that you are ethical and meet all legal requirements.
Post the talk, a spoke to a few people and they were probably curious about me as I was the only non-American and non-Christian person present there, and they wanted to know if I write and told them about this blog of mine and said I live in Bangalore and I am in Houston for few weeks and a lady promptly asked me ‘Is that where people pick up my call when I call for customer service’, I smiled and gave a nod.