Speakers at Venice Book Fair

Last weekend I participated in the Venice Book Fair (Venice, FL). It’s the town’s fifth book fair and it gets better every year. This one started Friday night with a 90-minute master class led by thriller author, David Hagberg, followed by a wine and cheese reception, then a presentation by Oceanview Publishing, and finally a few words about the new Gulf Coast Sisters in Crime chapter that meets in Sarasota. I didn’t take notes and I wish I had. What follows here is from memory (which isn’t always that good, so any mistakes are mine).

David Hagberg’s talk was aimed at new writers. Two of his main points were:

  • Start with a bang. (Have something happen right away.)
  • Compress time. (He didn’t use the word SHOW, but that was basically what he was talking about. Don’t just tell what happened, put the reader there by putting more into the sentence that indicates where it’s happening, what’s going on around the pov character, and how the pov character is feeling.)

He welcomed questions as he talked and gave some good pointers on point-of-view, the reality of making a living at writing (don’t give up your day job), and getting an agent.

We then enjoyed a half hour of wine and cheese. (I hadn’t had dinner, so I really enjoyed the cheese.) I also had a chance to talk to the other Sisters-in-Crime sisters I would be signing with on Saturday.

At 7 pm we reconvened in the Community Room and listened to a presentation by Bob and Pat Gussin, owners of Oceanview Publishing. Oceanview primarily publishes mysteries, suspense, and thrillers. They’ve been in business for ten years, and their authors have won prestigious awards. Their books are released in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats, and several have been optioned for movies and TV. The books are distributed in most English speaking countries.

Since I am now an orphaned author (Five Star will no longer be publishing mysteries), I found the presentation quite informative.

With so many new, unpublished writers in the audience, the Gussins spent time outlining the advantages of going with a traditional publisher.

  • They pay an advance
  • They take care of editing, covers, printing, and distribution
  • They send out review copies
  • They have the contacts for subsidiary rights
  • They have a reputation of publishing award winning, bestselling books
  • They have the ability to place books in libraries and bookstore
  • They have international distribution

They did discuss alternatives

  • The need for an agent to sell to big Five
  • The control an author has when self-publishing
  • Hybred authors who use both traditional and self-publishing

How to submit to Oceanview Publishing. Read their submission guidelines and follow them Oceanview Publishing They want 30 pages and a synopsis.

Their criteria

  • They usually know within 3-5 pages if they’ll want the book
  • The manuscript must be ready to publish. No grammar, spelling, or typos.
  • Ms must be formatted correctly
  • Story must fit the genre
  • Story must have appeal or interest

They listed several reasons why a story might be turned down (by them, an agent, or any publisher) and most had nothing to do with the story itself. Some were as arbitrary as editor had a bad day, hated the topic, just published a book with that story idea, and so on.

Their advice for writers.

Perfect and Persist

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11 Responses to Speakers at Venice Book Fair

  1. Hi Maris,

    Helpful, useful blog for fellow writers.

  2. Sounds like a great book fair, Maris. Thanks for sharing the information. Lots of good points.

  3. Lucy Kubash says:

    Might Oceanview be a new home for your mysteries? I’m hoping you might write another Crow mystery. Really enjoyed them. Sounds like the book fair was a lot of fun…except for the storm!

    • Maris Soule says:

      Lucy, I did like the couple who own Oceanview. It sounded like a good publishing house, but before I think about sending something to them, I need to get something written.

  4. Melissa Keir says:

    Thank you. Wonderful information. Do you think that all the new authors in the audience were there to learn how to become authors or were they looking to find a home for a written story?

    • Maris Soule says:

      Melissa, I think both were in the audience: people thinking of writing a book and those who had and were looking for that golden bit of information that would get them published. A lot of the questions from the audience indicated they weren’t really familiar with publishing realities.

  5. I’m under the impression Oceanview prefers serious crime fiction and not cozies. Did they mention subgenres? And how did the book fair go this year? I participated last year. It was good for exposure but few sales.

    • Maris Soule says:

      Hi, Nancy. There was no mention of subgenres during the talk, but the Gussins stressed going to their website and following directions. The talks Friday night were new this year and I thought they were a good idea. It allowed exhibitors a chance to hear a couple talks. As for Saturday, the morning hours were great. A lot of traffic and several sales at the Sisters in Crime booth. The MWA booth didn’t seem as well attended, and everyone at the fair left in a hurry when the storm hit at 12:30.