Thursday, February 11, 2016

Liars Club Writers Coffeehouse Back Again for 2016

By Dawn Byrne

Jonathan Maberry led the Liars Club Writers Coffeehouse in the Willow Grove PA Barnes & Noble via Skype. Keith Strunk hosted the Liar-filled meeting, which included Marie Lamba, Janice Gable-Bashman, Kelly Simmons, and Kathryn Craft. One of the South Jersey Writers' Group’s recent third Thursday speakers, Donna Galanti, fit well into the nucleus of Club members.

Jonathan began with information on the Writers Coffeehouses. There are nine active ones and more are popping up in the US, and other countries. It started with this group that now meets in Willow Grove. When thanked for starting the Coffeehouse, Jonathan reminded us that the Liars Club started the Coffeehouse, and that he is just a part of the Club. He shares hosting duties with the Coffeehouse in San Diego, where he now lives. “Community matters to writers,” he said, after exchanging familiar and sincere greetings with us. His fondness for our group showed in his face and words.

Questions for Jonathan matched the subject of how to get the word out about your book once it’s published: Blogging in your genre can be the grass roots in promoting your work. Subscribe to other blogs who read yours to making connections with potential readers. Goodreads and LinkedIn are a must. Reach out to writer conferences that do your subject and genre; you’ll meet people who can be helpful. Your writer’s platform on social media and how it’s maintained brings awareness of your book to audiences. Synching up your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts makes posting content easier. Starting a conversation is vital for your audience to make a connection with you. “The author is the brand,” said Jonathan. But don’t promise things that cost you a lot. If people are interested in you, they are more likely to buy your book.

Jonathan suggested multi-platform to promote anthologies. They don’t sell well, but anthologies can engage readers and get audiences interested in you and your other work.

Interviewers don’t always read your book, so give them a cheat sheet of questions to ask ahead of time. Making it easy for them, can make you popular to work with. Give one or two takeaways, that aren’t your plot, to make a memorable engagement with potential readers.

To learn how to do a podcast or book trailer, watch and listen to them. Trailers should be one-minute long, with strong production. After Jonathan had to end his Skype visit, Keith took advantage of the computer to show Kerry Gans’ trailer for her book, “The Witch of Zal.” Keith and Kerry had both worked on it. Donna is also a resource for making a trailer. Check out the one for her book, “Joshua and the Lightning Road.”

Two terms new to me: LookBook, where actors are put into your characters’ roles; and sizzle reel, which requires voiceovers and is expensive because so much goes into it. But the most interesting take away for me, was Jonathan’s advice to read out loud your edited, polished work. Listen to the polished voice of it. Study it, analyses it and contrast it with your original draft. This can help with your next work.

As always, Jonathan shared information on the current markets and trends: Graphic novels, the original ones that don’t feature superheroes, targeting girls are much in demand; pitch yours like a regular novel. Cross genre works are still hot. “I’m seeing a bit of a decline in memoir,” said Jonathan. But real life fiction is huge. Horror is starting to build in mainstream audiences.

Don’t be too specific with your plot when agents ask for summaries of books not yet written. “Be interesting but vague,” said Jonathan. He also highlighted the importance of having an agent: “If it wasn’t for my agent, I wouldn’t be in California.”

March 7, agent Marie Lamba is doing a First Page Workshop and answering questions on a panel for the SCBWI in Eastern, PA. May 20-22 is the Pennwriters Conference in Lancaster, PA. Jonathan and Kathryn will be keynote speakers and Donna will present workshops on craft and marketing.

Kelly Simmons took suggestions for next month’s Coffeehouse. She’ll be leading it, and selling her new book, “One More Day.” The trailer for it is cool.

Remember, no matter how many Sundays are in a month, the Coffeehouse always meets the last Sunday of each month from noon to 3 PM, unless a holiday gets in the way. It’s worth the trip over the bridge and through the city for us South Jerseyans. Three hours of shop talk and cohering with professional and upcoming writers is an exhilarating experience. And, my favorite, it’s FREE.


  1. Thanks for keeping us all in the loop, Dawn! Any word on the March date? Sorry, I know it's far...can't make Feb. though :(


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