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SuperStars Writing Seminar 2015 – a 1st-year Attendee Retrospective

After hearing about it from friends and peers over the past several years, this was the first time I had the chance to attend the SuperStars Writing Seminar, held in Colorado Springs, CO. Haven’t heard about this event? It’s not your typical writing conference or convention, that’s for sure.cropped-SSWS-logo-slugline-blushed-Gold3

Many of the SSWS faculty on the opening day.

Many writing conferences out there focus heavily (if not exclusively) on the craft of writing. There may be some panels on agents and editors, how to pitch and whatnot, but the truly business side of the industry can easily go overlooked. SSWS was designed by a group of bestselling authors to eschew the craft of writing entirely in favor of the business elements, giving writers the knowledge, perspective, and insights necessary to build and sustain a long-term writing career. Attendees get to hear not only from a variety of bestselling authors, but also from numerous industry pros that include editors, technology developers, social media pioneers, and many others.

This year’s instructors and panelists headlined with: Kevin J. Anderson, Rebecca Moesta, James A. Owen, David Farland, Eric Flint, Toni Weisskopf, Mark Leslie, Jodi Lynn Nye, Ashleigh Gardner, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Dean Wesley Smith, Todd McCaffrey, Lisa Mangum, Peter Wacks, Allyson Longueira, and M. Scott Boone.

Many others came along for the ride, and the topics were as diverse as the faculty.

Let me just say this: If you’re serious about truly being a professional writer/author and want to be equipped with decades upon decades of experience-driven wisdom and strategies, give attending SuperStars Writing Seminar serious consideration. Even if you only attend once (and some people have been coming 5-6 years in a row), you’ll leave empowered and inspired, plus forever connected to people who will likely impact your writing career in surprising ways.

David Farland, Eric Flint, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and Dean Wesley Smith discuss agents.

It was an incredible experience, to say the least. Just over 100 people attended (up from 60 in 2014), but it felt like a surprisingly tight-knit community–partly because many of us had interacted heavily online building up to the event itself. The people at SSWS (instructors included) focus intensely on being there for one another, being open and transparent about their triumphs, struggles, mistakes, and motivations, while simply supporting others who are trying to chart out their own unique path to writing and publishing success.

SSWS offers some hard realities, not shying away from the many challenges writers face in the current publishing environment, but also being quick to point out the many opportunities available if you’re willing to invest the time and energy to do it right. There was a large message of taking control of your own career, learning everything from protecting your intellectual properties, negotiation tactics, detailed understanding of contracts, what it’s like to work with Hollywood as an author, market research and analysis, indie, traditional, and hybrid writing options, and so much more.

On top of all that, the people you meet at the various dinners, minglers, or just hanging out in the lobby playing Cards Against Humanity for 3+ hours will have an equal–if not greater–impact on you. Even with people in different phases of their careers, it’s rare to be in a place full of so much talent and brilliance, not to mention the unquestioning welcoming attitude everyone possesses. I know for certain that folks I met here for the first time will still be around years down the road, and I look forward to being there for others in whatever manner I can.

Rebecca Moesta and Kevin J. Anderson discuss being a true professional.

I also look forward to applying much of what I learned to my own career as I launch two novels in my “debut author year” and start wrangling with the logistics of marketing, selling at cons, and connecting with new fans.

So. SuperStars Writing Seminar 2015 is over, sadly. A few of us lingered in the lobby into the wee hours, clinging on to the experience by our fingernails until exhaustion finally forced us to admit we had to shuffle back to our separate lives. The hard work of writing continues. Many stories wait to be told.

But I’ll gladly venture forward knowing I have this Tribe at my back along the way.

(Oh, and registration is already available for 2016.)

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  1. Dave Heyman
    Dave Heyman February 9, 2015

    Excellent summary Josh! As a fellow first-time attender, I heartily agree with everything you said. The value of the incredible community you join when you sign up for this seminar is at least on par with the value of the courses themselves, if not more.

    I’m already signed up for next year!

    • JRVogt
      JRVogt February 9, 2015

      Thanks, Dave! See you in 2016!

  2. Peter Sartucci
    Peter Sartucci February 9, 2015

    Well said, Josh. There is so much to be learned – the ‘drinking from a fire hose’ metaphor is very apt in this case. I will be back next year to learn more from my Tribe, hopefully with at least one book launched and another on the way.

  3. Jim Johnson
    Jim Johnson February 9, 2015

    Thanks for the summary! I have my eyes on the MP3 preorders for the seminars.

    You mentioned “…but it felt like a surprisingly tight-knit community–partly because many of us had interacted heavily online building up to the event itself.”

    Out of curiosity, how did you and the other attendees interact online before the event? Email, private discussion forum, something else?

    • JRVogt
      JRVogt February 9, 2015

      The mp3s are an excellent option, for sure.

      We had a private Facebook group that we used to collaborate and coordinate. It not only let us meet and interact, but we also did things like arrange hotel rooms and even airport pick-ups/drop-offs. When you register, you’re invited once the yearly group is formed.

      • Jim Johnson
        Jim Johnson February 10, 2015

        Awesome, thanks for the insights. Think I may just have to register for ’16.

        • JRVogt
          JRVogt February 10, 2015

          It’d be great to have you there!

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