Notes from the 2013 AWP, taken via Twitter

Last week I attended the AWP's annual conference in Boston. I took my notes on Twitter. Here are quotes & notes from these panels: Marketing/new media, literary vs popular fiction,reader-centric publishing, Tumblr 101, short creative nonfiction & setting as place w/Richard Russo & Jennifer Haigh.

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  1. Thursday:
  2. Marketing vs. Writing with a Nod to the New Media. (Priscilla Long, Waverly Fitzgerald, Matt Briggs) "Must we writers become marketers (answer, yes!), and if we are to become marketers, how do we market most effectively?" 
    This panel was excellent.
  3. Literary Writers Writing Popular Fiction: What’s Up With That? (Ed Falco, Julianna Baggott, Lise Haines, Benjamin Percy) What exactly are we saying when we refer to a novel as literary or serious fiction, as opposed to popular or commercial fiction?
    This panel was a shining example of what an AWP panel should be. The shining stars were Baggott, who proves that you can support a large family by writing prolifically and well, and Percy, whose rant about literary fiction and rave about genre should be printed somewhere and then podcasted to capture the sound of his announcer voice.
  4. Ben Percy speaks, and we are all shocked and delighted by A.) his voice and B.) what he has to say. I did not capture it all here, but the essence of his remarks were that he grew up loving popular fiction and that there is no reason why popular fiction cannot be literary.
  5. Friday
  6. Books in the Age of Reader-centric Publishing. (Buzz Poole, Lisa Pearson, Richard Nash, Matvei Yankelevich, Elizabeth Koch) These panelists challenge the traditional models of books and publishing by embracing contemporary technological capabilities while also honoring traditions that remain central to the notion of a book, whether fiction, nonfiction, or illustrated.
    This was not the most useful panel for me, but it was notable in that the publishers on the panel vehemently disagreed with each other about what "reader-centric" means. Yankelevich takes a hard line, he didn't seem to like like the idea of reader-centrism or of changing formats to suit the tastes of readers. Pearson would rather do whatever the book needs (rather than what readers/digital media wants), even if that means producing 15 copies of a book. Koch is experimental with formats, but believes that any book is reader-centric. Nash took traditional publishers to task, big time.
    I've never seen a panel at AWP argue - usually everyone agrees - so this was an interesting panel for me.