Call them “panels” or call them “sessions” (I use both here interchangeably, and I know it drives my team nuts), with three rooms of panels this year, there are even more opportunities to drill down to what you really need and want to know about the writing process, your favorite authors and the future of paranormal YA.
With that in mind we worked to create sessions for both writers and fans, that we hope will educate, entertain, promote and inspire all attendees. I want to thank the panelists from last year who helped us develop these amazing topics (you know who you are)!
* This is NOT the Official SCHEDULE. This is simply a list of sessions. The schedule and who is on the panels will be announced at a later date.
** All panels are subject to change.
What a Difference a Year Makes
Moderator: Susan Burdorf
The dramatic effect that the first utopYAcon had on attendees and panelists was profound, and beyond our and their wildest dreams.
Hear how one author’s monthly income increased tenfold in only a couple months after taking the advice of two of her favorite authors she met at utopYA.
Hear the stories of those who got published, those who made new and lasting friendships, and those who made career contacts and connections that have propelled their careers faster and better than they expected.
The panelists will share how to make the most of utopYA, their personal story of how the year has impacted them, and how you can do it, too. This is going to be a staple panel for utopYA from here on out because we know every year we will hear stories like these.
Goddess Complex: the Genesis of a New World
The creative process intertwines with research to create rich, believable characters, settings and mythology that keep the reader coming back for more.
Fictionalizing World Causes & Teen Issues
Homosexuality, environmental and world-stage causes, women’s issues and more will be discussed in this pivotal panel on how to approach these topics in your book.
How to make a Hollywood-worthy Book Trailer, a special panel Sponsored by VLC Productions
Book trailers have gone from “that would be cool to have” to “MUST HAVE.” Find out the elements, the copyright laws, and the hooks that can move your trailer from ho-hum to awesome.
Editing in the digital world
Your heart’s in the right place, but your comma isn’t. Are there new rules or is it every woman for herself in the rush to publish?
The most common mistakes, what to look for in an editor, how to handle online comments, and when to press GO! All this and more will be covered in this important session.
POV: Breaking All the Rules
YA lives up to its name when it comes to point of view, editing and storytelling. Do you write in first person, third person, both? Do you switch character points of view?
While it drives purists insane, it drives readers wild with delight. What’s your point of view?
Query Letter Zone
What your query letter must have to attract and hold the attention of the agent and publisher. What your query letter must avoid if it wants to make it past the slush pile.
How to Turn the Heads and Catch the Eyes of Traditional Publishers
So you wanna run with the big cats? There are still many great reasons to seek out the attention of the big publishers – an advance so you have time to write, credibility, licensing so that your books have international legs, just to name a few. How do you do it? This panel will share their experience to help you on your path.
Whether you are self- or indie-published, there’s a whole new world of options available to you, digital and otherwise. Is there such a thing as D.I.Y anymore? Are you pooling resources and creating your own team, or are you trusting an Indie to do that for you? There is no right answer here. It’s what works best for you. This panel will have people from both camps sharing the pros and cons of both so that you can make an informed decision.
Paranormal Screenwriting – A special panel hosted by Macedonia Films
The process of getting your paranormal world out of your head and on to the screen. Casting, special effects, script, filming, unforeseen forces and guiding hands will all be discussed in a special screening and panel hosted by Macedonia Films.
The Social Side of Your Writing Career – A special panel hosted by Month9Books and #YALitChat
Judging the Book by Its Cover
In the digital world, YA authors often change book covers every few months. Confusing or Creative? When can you tell a book by its cover, and how important is that first impression people have of your book, both in print and online?
Review Rehab: How to Handle the Good and the Bad
You need them. BUT, how do you hold your head up when some can cut like a knife? This panel will discuss how to weather the highs and lows of Reviews, and how to be at your best when you feel beat down.
Digital Marketing Outside the Box
Are book signings dead? Has it all been done? How do you get their attention, build raving fans, give your marketing and your book longevity — all while trying to relate to the fans, write the next book and have a life?
This session will talk podcasting, trans-media marketing and other innovative tools and strategies you MUST know to boost your image and your sales.
Blog Your Face Off, a special panel hosted by SupaGurl
In this special panel lead by Heather Smiddie Robbins, the group will talk blog tours from the author and blogger side. You’ll learn why every writer who wants to be taken seriously needs to know how they work, what it takes to put one together, and why knowing the bloggers on this panel can change your career.
Amazon Marketing 101
It’s the world’s largest bookstore. But once you list your book on Amazon…then what do you do? Did you know they give you free marketing if you know how to work their simple system? In this panel, you’ll discover:
- how to pick the right categories for you to make the best-seller lists
- how to use tags properly
- how to hit the Top Rated List without much effort and minimal sales
- the value of Reviews
- the importance of pricing and whether or not it pays to advertise
Competitive vs. Collaborative Marketing
Moderator: Kallie Mathews
You need both to grow, but how do you do this without sharpening the claws and flapping your jaws? In this panel, we will breakdown the good and the bad of competition vs. collaboration — how to share space, audience and healthy competition so that everyone goes farther faster.
New Kid on the Block: How to Navigate Clicks & Promote Your Book
Not so long ago, the digital self-publishing space was like the great Goldrush out West. All were welcome, and there was plenty of room for everyone. Now, in a time where everyone is trying to make their dreams come true and take advantage of the digital space, how do you break into the clicks who started it all with grace, courage and success? How do you stand out in the crowd, stand up for your “shelf space” your book occupies and prove to the ones who came before you – both the readers and the authors – that you belong there.
The Swagger of SWAG
Where do the authors get all that awesome promotional stuff? And where do they get it at a reasonable price? This panel will share with you the tips and treats that have made the difference in giveaways, branding and bling in their careers!
Sharing the Spotlight: Why Co-writing Might Be Right For You
Moderator: April Robbins
Have a book in you, but not sure how to execute it? Work better with a partner? Need accountability and a sounding board for your creativity? The pros and cons of writing as a team will be shared in this interesting panel.
Teens Writing for Teens
This panel will be lead by teens who are writing YA right now. Their point of view on what is happening in publishing, writing, storylines and balancing it all will blow your mind. Do not miss this amazing panel!
How to Avoid Publishing Pitfalls
So you’ve figured out which publishing path is right for you, but you’d still like to make as few mistakes as possible, and avoid being taken advantage of along the way. Authors will share their stories that can save you pain, suffering and cash. This is NOT a bashing panel. This is a panel to help aspiring authors navigate a sometimes scary unknown world of publishing with clearer eyes.
Hit the Target: Writing for Multiple Audiences
These days it seems more and more authors are writing more than one book at the same time. Not only that, but each book is being written for a different audience and sometimes even a different genre.
How do you keep all the balls in the air without losing sight of a solid story? How do you keep your audience happy, your publishing schedule on track and your sanity? This panel will share the secret sauce.
Battling Life: YA vs. NA Literature
Moderator: DB Graves
The Young Adult category is hotter than a dripping wet Channing Tatum wearing nothing but a very small, damp towel. Another category gaining equal amounts of the hotness factor is New Adult. The background on this category is muddied at best. Some would say it’s a must-have sub group while others will say it’s just a marketing trick. In this “coming of age” panel, we will talk about the evolution of the genre, the marketing and meaning of it all.
Public Image Unlimited
Moderator: KP Simmon
Do you need a publicist? Do you need public relations? Who are they? What is it? Why you might just be missing one of the most key components in your marketing strategy.
Casting Your Characters
It’s fun “casting” the main characters of books. It’s a great way to give your book marketing longer legs, engage the audience and a great excuse to imagine hotties playing the heroes and heroines of the books we love.
However — Is it a good thing or does it obstruct the imagination? Can it hinder the ability for the audience to be kind if and when your characters actually do make it to the big screen and aren’t portrayed by the person everyone wanted to play him or her?
The Future of YA: Trends
Have we just reached the tip of the iceberg on the possibilities and lifespan of paranormal YA or are its days numbered? Will the beloved series get longer or shorter?
We’ll look at the trends in books, sales and culture to see what’s ahead.
A Day in the Life of a YA Writer
Join authors who make a full-time living from their writing, as well as authors trying to balance their “day job” with their life’s passion.
Damsel in Distress vs. Bad Ass Babe: A Look at Gender Roles in YA
Are we empowering women or promoting a stereotype of the girl in need of protection by a strong man? You decide in this sure-to-be-heated session.
Music as Muse
Music is often an additional character in YA books, adding texture, personality and mood to scenes. What’s more, though, is the authors, themselves, are thanking musicians in the acknowledgments for not only inspiring the creative process, but being crucial to it.
In this session we’ll talk about who they are and why they really do, on some level, play the part as muse for the writer.
Power of the Fans
From blogs to fan fiction, Facebook to Twitter, Pinterest to Spotify, Amazon to Goodreads — how are fans not only following, but creating the YA movement online? Where do they hang out, how do they start or kill buzz and what can you do to harness their powers for good?
From Fan to Famous: Reader Today, Author Tomorrow
It is possible to go from unknown to having 10,000, 50,000, 80,000 and even more copies of your books downloaded from a single web store. Meet some of the authors who have done it in a matter of months. MONTHS. Hello? That is the amazing world of awesome we live in now. If you have a story inside you, you will not want to miss this panel.
Much in vein of improv or ad-lib comedy, Story frenzy is an interactive game between the audience and the authors on the stage.
The audience calls out prompts for characters and plot line.
First author on stage begins telling a story about the main character then passes it off to next author. Next author will be given a new prompt or new character to add to story, and so on down the line.
1. Main character must change from beginning of story to end.
2. You can NOT kill off main character.
If it’s anything like last year’s #Ligerbane bonanza…It will get crazy. We will have fun.
Anything Goes! You’re in Charge
You tell us who you want on the panel from our list of panelists. Then you submit the questions you want to ask. This is where YOU decide what you want to know without us dictating what the panel will be about! Email questions and who you want on the panel to info [at] utopYAcon.com.
Love Triangles: Overdone or not enough?
Whether you’re Team Gale, Team Jace, Team Logan, Team Damon or you have refused to pick teams at all, this is the panel for you. Is it played out or part of the YA secret sauce to success? We’ll discuss the trite, the true and how to avoid pitfalls while you build tension.
How to Keep the Sizzle in Paranormal Romance
How many different ways are there (really) to write about a kiss? How do you keep the fans and the writer as excited as the “first time” they read about the frisson and the fire? This panel will share how they tap into new creative depths to keep the readers coming back for more, more, more.