As a pathological extrovert, it’s been hard not traveling to various conferences over the past year and seeing so many colleagues in person, including the always fun folks at ASJA. But I’ve also come to appreciate some of the benefits of virtual conferences: sitting in my PJs in a comfy chair with the thermostat where I want it, cheaper food that I have total control over, not having to deal with the indignities of plane travel, still putting my kids to bed each night without leaving it to my partner, and so on. But what doesn’t differ between in-person and virtual ASJA conferences is the incredible content and the camaraderie present even in chat boxes and over video conferencing.
As the Books Track host for this year’s conference, I’m immensely excited and proud of the wide range of different panels we have scheduled, taking place virtually from Tuesday, April 20 through Thursday, April 22. I certainly look forward to the days when we can attend in-person conferences again, but I’m grateful that April’s conference will deliver the same great information, helpful tips, and insider insights we would at an in-person conference—and perhaps with even more diversity of speakers given that there’s no travel requirement. It eliminates the barrier to people who live particularly far from New York or wouldn’t be able to get away for a few days.
It’s hard to choose any favorites from the Books Track sessions coming up. As someone who has authored children’s nonfiction books, I’m definitely looking forward to moderating the Kid Lit panel featuring three authors at different stages in their career—Lesa Cline-Ransome, Chris Barton, and Susan Johnston Taylor—and associate editor Alexandra Hightower from Little Brown Books for Young Readers.
But as an aspiring fiction writer, I’m also anxious to hear Charles Johnson and Meryl Davids discuss making the transition from nonfiction to novels in moderator Arielle Emmett’s panel. In fact, we have several sessions that examine ways to transition your work from one form to another, whether it’s “Hollywood calling” to turn your article or book into film or television, or it’s taking a long-form article or series of articles and turning them into a book, as successful authors Olga Mecking, Lisa Selin Davis, Nicole Egan and Jenny Block did with a wide range of topics, from lifestyle to investigative to turning personal essays into YA fiction.
Of course, we also have several sessions aimed at ensuring you have the business chops you need to make key decisions about how to publish—including self-publishing—and market your book effectively. Don’t miss the fact-checking session featuring fact-checker Wudan Yan along with author Melinda Wenner Moyer and one of her fact-checkers, Emily Krieger, so you can get a sense of what the actual working relationship is like during book fact-checking. And given the reckoning we’ve seen with racial injustice over the past year and how vitally important it is to hear from voices in the communities facing that injustice, I’m excited to hear from our all-Black panel on “Book Publishing in the Age of COVID and Racial Reckoning,” featuring Karin Berry, Aaron Robertson, Krishan Trotman and Regina Brooks.
Sure, I’m a bit biased (okay, a lot biased), but I’d like to think we have one of the best lineups of sessions for published and aspiring authors in ASJA’s recent history of conferences, and you can attend it all from the comfort of your home. I hope you have the afternoons of April 20-21 blocked out to hear from our fantastic speakers at this year’s conference, and I’m looking forward to what the speakers have to say and all the great discussion sure to occur in the comments.