Shelley Bates is an experienced speaker for writers’ groups, book clubs, and schools about the craft and business of writing and about the worlds she creates in fiction. As former adjunct faculty in the Seton Hill University MFA in Writing Popular Fiction program, she is also an experienced classroom speaker. Currently, she’s presenting the following workshops.
Expect Success: Self Publishing and the Business of Writing (2 hours)
Whether you’re an industry veteran with a backlist or a first-time novelist, you need to know your options in the fiction market. In this workshop, you’ll learn about one of them: self publishing with online retailers like Amazon, Apple Books, Nook Press, and Kobo. From market research and targeting your readers, to opening your own accounts, formatting, and deciding on cover art, this is a practical 101-level class with tips you can put to use right away.
You’ve finished your book! Time to send it out, right? Wrong. Even if you’ve been editing as you go, there are several layers to work through yet to make your novel stand out from the pack. Award-winning, bestselling author and professional copyeditor Shelley Bates will take you through “the rules,” what they’re really meant to accomplish, and how you can revise your work with or against them. Learn what to look for in your own work, fix it, and whether you’re pursuing self-publishing or a traditional agent or editor, your book will shine. (Mini guide available for sale.)
The Emotional Plot (1 hour)
There are as many ways to plot a novel as there are novelists, but in this workshop, we’ll explore three: internal and external conflict, featuring ways to keep your hero and heroine apart and bring them together; the romance arc (from first glance to HEA); and the emotional journey of your couple from isolation to community. Even if you’re a pantser, you’ll discover new ways of thinking about your story and about your characters that will help you avoid the sagging middle—and prepare you to write the dreaded synopsis with ease.
Building a world is more than paragraphs of description of a rainy forest or the mean streets of the city. It’s how your character sees your story world and how it in turn reflects him. It’s how the environment influences and changes your character—and how your character changes her environment—during the events of the plot. Discover how to build a setting from the top down and from the inside out so that your world becomes as much a character as your people. You’ll also learn how to research a believable setting, even if you’re making it all up. (Mini guide available for sale.)
Planning and Plotting a Series (1 hour)
It’s no secret that readers love series, but writing a satisfying multi-book series is more than making up a small-town setting to put them in. Learn how to create communities populated by compelling primary, secondary, and tertiary characters. Best friends, buddies, exes, families, and coworkers create foils and contrasts for your main characters, push the plot’s emotional complexity, build the story worlds your reader wants to come back to … and become the main characters for the next book. Learn strategies and tips for over-arching plotlines, reappearing characters, and interlocking subplots, and we’ll also discuss the re-emergence of the serial for readers who enjoy short reads.
Creating Communities with Character (1 hour)
You’ve created a hero to die for and a heroine to challenge him—but two people aren’t enough to carry the whole book. What about all the other people in your story world? In this workshop, you’ll learn how to create communities populated by compelling secondary and tertiary characters. Best friends, buddies, exes, families, and coworkers create foils and contrasts for your main characters, push the plot’s emotional complexity, build the story towns your reader wants to come back to … and become the main characters for the next book.
Write Killer Back-Cover Copy (90 minutes)
If you’re seeking trad publication, the back-cover blurb goes in your query letter. Once you’re under contract, your publisher may ask you to write your own–or rewrite theirs. If you’re self-publishing, you’ll need to write a grabby book description to hook the readers attracted by your cover art. In this hands-on workshop, we’ll learn the anatomy of a blurb, from shoutline to hook, and then in four easy steps, write one for our works in progress.