Friday, October 26, 2012

Thoughts for Panhandle Professional Writers

Have you visited lately? The home page is clean, and gives readers a clear understanding of Panhandle Professional Writers’ goals. I would like that page to include officer’s contact information, but found it in the association’s latest newsletter, The PPW Window.

On page two of The PPW Window, you’ll see a heading, “Survey from Matt.” Members and prospective members may profit by responding to it. Matt expects a response of 10 to 15%. PPW can do better than that, right?

Thinking his questions were cogent to my blog, I decided to gather ideas. I phoned a dozen members and discovered numerous incorrect phone numbers in our directory. No surprise, actually—my phone number, unchanged for 47+ years is not even listed.  Why not simply make the group’s database available via email attachment? Something is better than nothing. Besides, why dun the treasury for a print version that goes out of date before it reaches the press?

Matt asked for opinions. After the conference last year, Suzi Sandoval told me it was money well spent. She had a great time, and because attendance was lower than expected, she enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere and opportunity to spend more time with both staff and other participants. At Market Street today, the pharmacist said he was impressed with the conference, and it stimulated his interest to learn more about writing. I was getting a flu shot, so thought it wise to discuss only positives with a man with a needle in his hand.

He mentioned attendance. He’d like to attend all PPW meetings, but his work schedule has prevented it. Distance may be the number one reason out-of-town members don’t make it. How easy is it to drive to Amarillo from Albuquerque, NM; Brownfield, TX; or Eads, OK? I noticed on one page of our directory 41% of members listed lived at least 100 miles from Amarillo. How do we improve attendance? Well…a decade ago, we had at least one agent or editor speak at our meetings annually—a definite draw. Now that the industry has undergone so many changes and air fares have exploded, that may no longer be an option.

Considering the business of writing, though, pitching to agents and editors is why a serious writer attends writers’ functions. Isn’t that particularly true when the cost of a function (like a conference) runs well beyond dues already paid, and participation devours a weekend? In business, every expense is weighed against value. When a conference is targeted to beginners, published authors don’t attend. One member said that even inexperienced writers like to rub shoulders with established authors of various genera. Perhaps a semi-annual conference with broader audience appeal would prove profitable. Profit—years ago Ellen Richardson told me FIW was PPW’s annual fund raiser. Times change, don’t they?

On the subject of speakers, “variety” had the edge, but ambiguity reigned. Laura Stevens applauded the idea of variety, but added, “I could listen to Phyliss Miranda again and again, and never tire of her.”

What could I possibly add to that?

(c) 2012, Bernice Simpson

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