Fancy yourself a writer? Check out The Edge of Print…

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If you’re an aspiring writer looking to connect with your peers, or with publishers, you need to check out Get Publishing’s the Edge of Print conference taking place this weekend at Grant MacEwan University. The event takes place over two days, and includes sessions on Youth Fiction, Blogging, and Pitching your ideas.

We spoke with conference co-chair Peter Roccia and marketing committee member Catherine Kuehne Harder over email to get the down-low on this terrific event. Read on, gentlepeople!

The Unknown Studio: You’ve called the conference “At the Edge of Print.” Is that because you believe, as Egon Spengler said in the first Ghostbusters movie, print is dead?

Peter and Catherine: No, print will never be dead. Any particular medium survives even after a new one appears on the scene. We still have radio, even after television, and we will still have television in the internet age. Think of how long printed books have been around. They will always be there in the media mix. It’s only the mix that changes.

Instead, we chose “At the Edge of Print” as our theme because we wanted to address new media but not be limited to it. We wanted to give participants the opportunity to explore all the edges: what gives them their “edge” in the market, what counts as “edgy” in terms of genre or content, what lies beyond the edge of any literary medium today?

TUS: Has it become easier for authors to get themselves published and achieve success, or is it just as difficult as ever?

P&C: It really depends on who you talk to. For those writers who truly see themselves as partners with their publisher and editor, there are more opportunities. Publishers are looking for writers who are creating a reader-base following through Facebook, Twitter, blogs and their website. Writers carry more of the responsibilities for book sales and have to promote their book themselves.

More than ever, authors are more responsible for their own success. That’s why for some writers, self-publishing in a paper or electronic edition is the better choice. Why even Virginia Wolfe was self-published!

TUS: What kinds of sessions can attendees expect to see?

P&C: Our Friday-night keynote, Andrew Steeves, from Gaspereau Press, publisher of this year’s Giller Prize winner The Sentimentalists, really epitomizes that combination of the high tech with the hand crafted. He’ll be giving us a virtual tour via internet of the hand-cranked presses that produced that book. We also have sessions on blogging, travel writing, young adult fantasy fiction, e-publishing, comic books, fiction and poetry anthologies, and computer games. At the Saturday-morning keynote, Malcolm Azania, aka Minister Faust, will be talking about his recent decision to leap over the edge and go independent.

TUS: What kind of audience are you expecting? Traditional authors? New writers? All kinds?

P&C: Each conference attracts writers ready to be published. This conference will also attract people who understand that there is a need for good writing and original ideas but the final product may not be a book per se. A wonderful children’s picture book manuscript could actually become the script for a children’s animation. Or a sci-fi manuscript could become a graphic novel. Traditional authors are coming around to the e-book phenomenon too!

TUS: Do you expect the Edge of Print will convert a few new published authors? Will Pitch Camp make that happen?

P&C: Absolutely! The beauty of the Get Publishing conferences is that they were created to help writers meet their publishing goals wherever they are in their career. We have agents, editors and publishers presenting and catching. The information and connections will open doors for new writers and will open new doors for established writers… and we always hear that some of our registrants get printed directly through Pitch Camp.

TUS: How large is the publishing community in Edmonton and Alberta?

P&C: That’s a hard question to answer. Most people look at the number of publishing houses in a city and concentrate on in-house writers, editors, and publishers. But there are a whole lot of self-publishers, freelancers, and contract editors and writers in this city as well. When you look at the individuals involved, the industry is much larger than when you look only at the companies. Get Publishing is dedicated to providing a forum for looking at that whole picture.

It’s like asking how many registered forests there are in England, when it’s all the trees that make up the ecosystem.

TUS: Can we expect to see more of this kind of event from Get Publishing? What other events do you have planned?

P&C: We hold a conference every second year and collaborate with writing organizations such as the WGA or CAA for focused workshops in the off years. In the past, topics have included how to create your own website, how to pitch a magazine and how to market yourself. All are with the intention of getting writers published and paid. Our next workshop will be in fall – watch for it!

Want to wander over to the Edge of Print? Register for the conference online! Note: There are about a dozen spots available for the Friday night keynote and a few for the Saturday workshops. However, the Saturday banquet is sold out! The whole event takes place this weekend May 6 & 7 at Grant MacEwan University.

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