Creating an Author Platform Based on Tragedy without Sounding Perpetually Tragic

Rooms 440-442, Summit Building, Seattle Convention Center, Level 4
Friday, March 10, 2023
9:00 am to 10:15 am


“Author platform” is a cringeworthy phrase for most creative nonfiction writers; yet, building a vibrant one is essential for publication. But what if your book deals with tough topics, including highly traumatic moments or painful experiences? How do you keep from sounding like tragedy is your schtick? During this panel presentation, five memoirists will share the steps they’ve taken to build authentic, sustainable reader connections that neither shy away from dark topics nor dwell on them.

Outline & Supplemental Documents

Event Outline: AWP_2023_Event_Outline.pdf
Supplemental Document 2: Creating_an_Author_Platform_Based_on_Tragedy_Without_Sounding_Perpetually_Tragic_Workbook.pdf



Lisa Cooper Ellison is a writing coach and speaker with an EdS in clinical mental health counseling and a background in mindfulness. She has spent the last twenty years helping clients and students turn difficult experiences into art. Her essays have appeared in the Guardian and Kenyon Review.

Melanie Brooks is the author of Writing Hard Stories: Celebrated Memoirists Who Shaped Art from Trauma. A graduate of the Stonecoast MFA program, she teaches at Northeastern University and Bay Path University. Her memoir, A Hard Silence, is forthcoming in September 2023.

Athena Dixon is the author of The Incredible Shrinking Woman (Split/Lip Press) and No God in This Room (Argus House Press). Her work appears in The BreakBeat Poets Vol. 2: Black Girl Magic (Haymarket Books) and Getting to the Truth: The Craft and Practice of Creative Nonfiction (Hippocampus Books).

Tia Levings shares the realities of Christian fundamentalism on social media (@tialevingswriter) and in the 2023 Amazon docuseries on the Institute of Basic Life Principles. Her memoir will be released in 2024 (St. Martin’s Press).

Yi Shun Lai


February 7–10, 2024
Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City Convention Center