Allison Williams has double duty at HippoCamp 2015. She’s presenting a break-out session called “How to Get Published in Literary Magazines” and also she’s hosting an add-on pre-conference workshop, “How to Save $500 on Your Next Edit.” So, basically, Allison is here to help you get polished AND published. Coming from Dubai, she also wins the award for most miles logged to get to Lancaster, Pa. She took some time to answer a few questions about our upcoming creative nonfiction conference.
Hippocampus: We don’t want to give too much away about your editing workshop, but please share with us a golden nugget that you hope attendees will take away from your talk that isn’t found on the program description.
Allison: More than half of the authors who contact me are wrong about what they need. Sure, I could “proofread” a manuscript that actually needs a major structural revision and a developmental edit, but it’s ripping off the writer to sell them something they don’t need and that won’t lead to a finished, polished manuscript. One of the things we’ll talk about in the workshop is what the different types of editing are, and how to figure out which one you need. We’ll also talk about building relationships with ‘writer buddies’, and how the first feedback a writer needs is free.
Tell us who would benefit most from your workshop and why.
If you’re getting rejection after rejection, all form letters, few or no encouraging personal notes, you need an editor. Someone who doesn’t love you and will tell you the truth. But that’s scary as hell! So this workshop will benefit authors who are intimidated by the process of finding an editor, determining if that editor is a good fit, and spending the right amount of time and money on an edit. If you know something’s wrong with your work, but you can’t figure out what that is, and you just want a damn prescription already – this workshop is for you.
What is your best advice for attending a writing conference, whether it’s for newbies or veterans?
Don’t be afraid to sit down at a table of people you don’t know and say hi. I am totally that person in the corner thinking I will just read my book and not feel like a social idiot, but I am so grateful every time someone sits with me and starts a conversation. This conference, I’m going to pick up my continental breakfast and march myself over to at least two tables of writers I’ve never met.
Aside from speaking, what you are most looking forward to about being part of the inaugural HippoCamp?
I’m at a stage in my writing career where I’m deliberately making time for writing events and turning down paid work from my previous career (that I’m easing out of.) So making the choice to share time with other writers in Lancaster PA instead of managing a mall event in Bahrain is really positive for me!
What’s on your personal conference agenda? Perhaps share with us a session/event you don’t want to miss.
I can’t wait to hear Jane Friedman. I’ve loved her blogging and her work with Scratch magazine, and I’m totally psyched to be in the same room with her!
What are you most looking forward to about visiting Lancaster?
Some years ago I performed at the Renaissance Festival nearby, and I’ve always loved driving through this part of the country, especially the farmers’ markets and roadside stands. I will be acquiring as many jars of sweet hot pickles as I can pack – I can’t get them back home in Dubai.
I am secretly intensely socially awkward, so I apologize in advance for being a doofus. If you are also a doofus, come sit near me and we’ll have stilted chat together, each of us convinced that the other one is totally smooth and comfortable with this whole meet-and-mingle thing.
Allison, we’ll be sure to help you find other local delicacies to fill your suitcase! Safe travels and we’ll see you soon.