This year we tried to create a couple of tracks — one for beginners, and one for those looking to expand, grow and do bigger better business. We do have several fan panels, too. Ultimately, the final panel sessions come down to best-attended, utopYA-mission oriented, most popular, which guests are able to attend, and who is qualified to speak about the topics.
This list is subject to change.
So You Wanna be a Writer?
You have a book in your heart, characters chatting in your head and a desire so deep to finally write that book you’ve been dreaming about. So what’s holding you back? Time to step out of the shadows and into the world of writing. Whether it’s just something you want to cross off your bucket list or what you want to do for the rest of your life, getting a book into the hands of the public has never been easier. This session will talk you through the realities of the writer’s life so that you can lead your dreams.
So You Wanna be a Book Blogger/Tuber?
There are some big ol’ perks that come with being a book blogger or book tuber – advanced release copies of books for review, invitations to events, street cred, income and more. But first you gotta build your blog or channel, build your rep, build your community and learn the ins and outs of professional blogging, giveaways and relationship-building. Find out from authors and bloggers the right and wrong way to do this blogger/tuber thang in this hot session.
Your 1st Book Signing
You did it. You published your first book, and now you’re ready to take your book on the road and meet your readers and sign some autographs. But wait, what if no one shows up? What if you forgot something?
It’s time to make your checklist – are you ready for your first book signing? How do you know? What do you do? What do you bring? What do you need at your table to help you stand out? How do you keep track of the fans after the signing?
This panel was one of our most requested by new authors out there, and it will answer all of these questions and more so that you can breathe easier and walk into your first signing with confidence.
Dealing with Doubts as a Writer
Writers are sensitive creatures. Your characters are loud and demanding in your head. Your fans are loud and demanding online. What do you do when you get writer’s block? What do you do when one book flops? What do you do when the doubt demons creep in and tell you your’e a fraud, a one-hit wonder, or that you’ll never make it out there in the crazy world of professional writers. Or other fear favorites — You’re too young, you’re too old, you can’t afford to quit your day job, you will never figure out this self-publishing thing and no one will ever sign you to a deal…
First, you breathe deep. What you don’t do is go it alone. This panel will keep you out of the downward spiral, and give you practical magic on how to keep the faith and keep your eyes on the prize.
What to look for in a Beta Reader
“What the heck is a Beta Reader and why do I need one…or five?”
A beta reader, also known as a pre-reader or critiquer, is someone who reads a written work, generally fiction, with the intent of looking over the material to find and improve elements such as grammar and spelling, as well as suggestions to improve the story, its characters, or its setting. Beta reading is typically done before the story is released for public consumption. Beta readers are not explicitly proofreaders or editors, but can serve in that context.
Elements highlighted by beta readers encompass things such as plot holes, problems with continuity, characterization or believability; in fiction and non-fiction, the beta might also assist the author with fact-checking.
This session will help give you tips on finding and keeping quality beta readers you can trust with your work.
Expanding Your Empire
Now that you have a few published books under your belt and sorta have the hang of this whole writerly life, it’s time to take your books and career to the next level. There’s a big world out there, and this session will help you:
- navigate the waters of international markets
- get your books into libraries and book stores
- market to new and influential audiences
- understand licensing — turning your books into audio books, comic books, movie franchises and more.
It’s All About The Money…and how you manage it.
You gotta keep track of it all – the cost of swag, the travel, the conferences, the paperbacks, the promotions and advertising, and on and on. This session will help keep you sane and your budget balanced (hopefully). Get tips from accountants and authors on how to keep track and manage your money, reveal the goods on what you can write off come tax time, and how to report it to Uncle Sam without losing an arm and a leg.
Is Time Travel Possible?
Well, is it? Join physicists, authors and fanatics as we talk quantum leaps and butterfly effects in this fascinating panel. Learn how to convince your reader without overwhelming them with technical mumbo jumbo.
Why YA Matters
With the massive proliferation of New Adult sweeping the market, has the beloved Young Adult category that helped pave the way for NA been left to collect dust? Are the writers who helped make it matter taking a “been there, done that” approach to it while they milk the sexy romance book market trend all the way to the bank… or is there more to it?
While trend- and genre-hopping can be very good choices — 1. They challenge the writer, 2. Alleviate boredom, 3. Avoid getting labeled into a corner — there are still a growing number of Millennials out there aching to read more Young Adult that represents them.
This session will cover the stigma attached to YA, share findings on why it should still matter to writers and readers, as well as discuss personal experiences.
The lines of sex in NA and what is acceptable and what is expected are blurry at best. Clean NA is getting slammed for being too clean. Hot NA is being called erotica in disguise.
New Adult is still a NEW category, and it will undoubtedly evolve or split off into multiple categories. Why not be a part of the discussion and influence the future of NA. There is just so much here to unpack, and these panelists are going to help you do just that.
The Rise of Steampunk
From sub genre of literature to cutting edge maker fairs, the steampunk movement can be seen in literature, cosplay, inventions and conventions around the globe. Whether building time machines, creating alternate histories or busting fashion and moral codes of conduct, the popularity of steampunk continues its epic rise….but why? And what is to come? Find out more in this sure-to-be-packed panel.
He Said/She Said
A new game-slash-panel at utopYA 2015. This year we discover just how well the men know the writer in their life.
They see their wives in their writing uniforms of sweatpants or pajamas. They lovingly navigate the “I’ve written the best chapter ever in the history of the known literary universe” and the “This book is crap – I should burn it and never write again” with wine and chocolate. They hold down the fort, feed the kids, kiss the unwashed hair, challenge, tolerate, and enCOURAGE whilst blissfully listening to the click clicking of the keyboard.
In this game show-style panel you’ll hear from the men who boldly go where they are told 😉 They will reveal the secrets and lessons on how to balance the writing cave with the man cave while supporting the writer in the home. Their time has come.
More Than Books: Writing for Graphic Novels/Movie Scripts/Games/TV/Web
In this panel session, discover other lucrative and viable options for you as a writer. From screenwriting, to playwriting to comics, graphic novels, online properties and the expanding world of TV, cable and media options like Netflix, Amazon and more. This session talks about how to get your foot in the door without it getting slammed in there.
Building Your Author Brand & Platform
- What the heck is an author platform and why do you need one?
- How does your online presence represent your brand?
- What do you need to do to increase your visibility and influence as an author in your genre?
- What do you do when you write for multiple audiences – how do you represent yourself on your website, Facebook, etc. Do you need more than one page, web site, etc.
- And how do you manage and keep up with it all and still find time to write?
The collective resources and talents from the women at Indie-Visible will share their web site, branding, design, and marketing knowledge with you in this very important session.
The Past, Present and Future of Publishing
Whether you are self/indie-published or traditionally published, there’s a whole new world of options available to you, digital and otherwise. Is there such a thing as D.I.Y anymore? Are you pooling resources and creating your own team, or are you wanting to run with the big cats? There is no right answer here. This panel will have people from the self-, indie-, and traditional publishing camps sharing their fair and educated experiences and points of view so that you can make an informed decision and decide which path is right for you right now. As you evolve, your choice in publishing strategy may, as well, and these panelists will share the key signs you should watch for in determining your course of action.
Gender roles & stereotypes in YA and NA Lit
Are we empowering women or promoting a stereotype of the girl in need of protection by a strong man?
Also — There is a huge market for LGBT books, but why should they have to be separate at all? Isn’t it time to upgrade them from secondary characters to leading roles in YA and NA Lit? Who is leading the pack and doing it well?
This pivotal panel will discuss the misconceptions, the markets and the marketing for women and gays in lit, as well as how to approach such topics in your books with accuracy and care.
Tense Time Warp: Raise the Tension with Past & Present Tense and Point of View
The overwhelming trend in current NA books is to switch points of view each chapter between the male and female protagonists. And in YA we see one book written from one person’s point of view, and the next in the series written from another. There are even books out there where one chapter is written in first person, and the other chapters, written from another’s point of view are written in third person limited. Do you know how to write from the different points of view? Do you know what they are and what ones are most effective for your audience? While it drives purists insane, it drives readers wild with delight. What’s your point of view?
ClockWise World Building
World building isn’t just for fantasy books. It is central to not only things like the topography of the places held within its pages, but also to the cultural standards and rules governing the interpersonal relationships and politics of the book’s plot and story. Is there such a thing as too much description? How do you temper or pepper it throughout the book to best effect? The creative process intertwines with research to create rich, believable characters, settings, and mythology that keep the reader coming back for more. Learn how to do this well from authors at the top of their game.
How to Make Your Book Tour Run Like Clockwork
Are book tours played out or still vital to your book’s success? This group will talk blog tours from the author and blogger side. You’ll learn why every writer who wants to be taken seriously needs to know if and when you need a book tour, how they work, what it takes to put one together, how to make yours stand out from the crowd, and why knowing the people on this panel can change your career.
Online Bookstore Sales & Marketing 101
In this panel session, you’ll discover:
- How to pick the right categories for you to make the best-seller lists.
- How to use tags properly.
- How to hit the Top Rated List without much effort and minimal sales.
- What to do once you make rank and best seller lists — how to give your marketing longer legs for more sales.
- The value of Reviews.
- The power of Pricing.
- Should you Advertise. If so, when and where?
The Golden Age of the Book Trailer
Book trailers have gone from “that would be cool to have” to a “MUST HAVE” to “Do they even work?” in the span of a few short years. Find out the key elements, the copyright laws, and the hooks that can move your trailer from ho-hum to awesomely memorable to help you sell more books.
Time for Serials
Serials, full-length stories delivered to the readers in short-form chunks more frequently than traditional novels or novellas, have turned housewives into full-time authors living the dream. In this panel we talk about the pros and cons of the serial series, how long should they be, should they have cliff hangers, how to market them creatively and more.
What a Difference a Year Makes
The dramatic effect that utopYAcon has on attendees and panelists is staggering, and beyond our and their wildest dreams. Hear stories of those who got published, those who made new and lasting friendships, and those who made career contacts and connections that have propelled their careers faster and better than they expected. This is your chance to hear how to make the most of utopYA, hear how its impacted attendees year-round to help them achieve their goals, and how you can do it, too!
Your Time to Shine
Writers are inherently isolated creatures — even the most extroverted can struggle with networking effectively at conferences. Let’s face it; writers work and play with imaginary friends most days and nights. This panel aims to provide an interactive how-to workshop for newbies and wallflowers. What to say past “I love your book.” And how to step out of your comfort zone, approach any group, and add them to your “clump” or tribe of collaborators, conspirators and friends.
Which panels are you excited about?