This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend one of NY Times-bestselling author Steve Berry’s writing workshops at the Thurber House in Columbus, OH. Berry is the author of over ten bestselling books such as “The Lincoln Myth” (his newest release), “The King’s Deception”, “The Columbus Affair”, and many others. A former trial lawyer, Berry described how he endured 85 rejection letters before becoming published after the release of Dan Brown’s “Da Vinci Code”. All of Berry’s books rely heavily on history but all are set within a modern, thriller framework.
At the Thurber House, Berry conducted a workshop with straightforward, practical tips for any writer, regardless of genre. I was enormously impressed by his approachable manner, willingness to answer any question, and his focused, easy to implement insight gleaned from 12 years of learning how to write best sellers. In the last hour of the presentation, Berry’s wife Elizabeth shared information from her perspective – tips on how to pitch to agents, how to create/improve author websites, FB advertising, traditional vs. non-traditional publishing, and more. Elizabeth, Executive Director of the International Thriller Writers organization and their conference “ThrillerFest”, had a unique perspective from both the author’s point of view through her husband, as well as that from the business side of things.
What impressed me most, however, was that Berry donates his time to conduct these workshops through his organization “History Matters”. All the money paid by the attendees goes to a historical venue, in this case, the Thurber House. Berry and Liz have traveled the world to raise money for the preservation of human heritage sites, many of which are crumbling due to lack of funds. To know that Berry donates so much of his time to run these workshops make them all the more meaningful.
It was refreshing to see a big-name author giving back in two ways, once to writers and once more to historic preservation. If you haven’t had a chance to hear Berry speak, I urge you too, whether or not you ever hope to publish a book. The donation to the upkeep of historic sites is simply icing on the cake!