Kevin Sampsell, author of the quick and entertaining “A Common Pornography” came to the Northwest Authors Series this month to discuss how to approach reading, writing, editing, publishing, and selling your work. Unlike many preconceived assumptions, you don’t have to be an avid reader to begin a career in writing. Kevin Sampsell wasn’t; in fact, he first started his writing experience by creating “cheesy pop songs as a kid,” and now he is a published author. His most important piece of advice – one that is often a superficial motive for aspiring authors – is that you should not worry about money or what society wants you to write about, to write to the best of your potential and to enjoy what you work on, write about what interests you.
Here are a few informing tips from the question and answer session:
Writing memoirs and nonfiction help you to connect to your readers.
For Sampsell, he did not entirely know what was going to happen at the end of his memoir. Although not knowing can be frustrating, it is less boring, you don’t skip any important parts, and you – as the writer – are allowed to go on a journey with your characters and your readers. This can apply to all works of fiction and memoirs.
When working with larger publishing companies such as Harper & Collins, it is best to hire an agent. However, for first time authors, if you are working with a smaller company it is easier to do it directly.
If you are writing about a specific subject, you probably don’t need an agent and can just publish it directly. If you do want to get an agent, Google is a good place to start searching.
While working on his memoir, he did not worry about getting legal protection. He suggested that you should talk to relative for proof that the stories are real and as long as you are writing the truth there is not a lot to worry about. However, this varies case by case. It is also a matter of hurting the feelings of relatives and friends, which may or may not be more costly than a legal case.
He also never worried about copywriting issues and has never registered any of his titles. Because of computers, it is easy to prove that he was the original author.
Find authors who are writing about similar subjects and contact them if you have questions about the publishing process. It is always great to create connections.