As I mentioned in my Day 1 post, the first day of the writers conference was packed full and I was exhausted by 5:00 pm. Knowing I needed to pace myself for a four-day conference with events going late into the evening, I took it easy the rest of the time. I picked my classes and workshops carefully and since I knew I wasn’t going to do a pitch this year, I wasn’t as stressed out as everyone else seemed to be.
(Seriously, writers are intense AF!)
The energy in the conference, in general, felt very anxious as people were nervous, scared, excited, and probably humbled by the chance to pitch to some big-name literary agents and editors. Once I let go of the decision to pitch, I was a lot more relaxed. Listening to the editors and agents during the panel forum with an audience of, oh i don’t know, maybe 500 or so hungry writers, was nerve-wracking to say the least. Yet, I sat there and listened as they talked very fast about what their agency specializes in, is looking for and NOT looking for, took my notes, and tried to process as much as I could. Maybe next year I’ll be ready….maybe.
The focus of the conference felt bent towards traditional publishing tracks. I get it, that’s where the money and notoriety is. However, I attended one class by an Indie Publisher, Kim Hornsby that was encouraging to me. She has many books published on Amazon and published wide on other book seller sites and had some encouraging words, tips, and resources to share with us. It reaffirmed what I already knew; I’m ok with Indie Publishing. I want to spend the time to learn more about it, perfect it for my personal goals and purposes, and help others who want to do the same.
It was encouraging to learn that even though “self-publishing,” as it is formerly known, used to have a stigma to it, nowadays it doesn’t have that same stigma. Anyone can do it. There are many very successful, talented writers who can get their great books published without having to rely on the big publishing houses, or even the smaller ones, who often times have very specific genres or story lines that they are looking for.
Some tips for Indie Publishing:
KDP Direct Publishing with Amazon is easy and free! There’s a learning curve to it so try something out for a test run. You can always take it down anytime you want to.
If you wish to publish wide (on other bookseller sites), setup an account with Draft 2 Digital. I have yet to look into this, but it sounded promising and was recommended over Smashwords due to their customer service. (*disclaimer: this was the speaker’s recommendation and I have no opinion one way or the other but I’m taking her word for it for now – don’t kill the messenger)
Keep in mind that if you opt-in to KDP Select (w/ Amazon) you cannot publish wide. You have to sell exclusively on amazon for at least 90-days and then after that you can opt-out of the program and publish wide again if you want to. KDP Select does automatically put you into the Kindle Unlimited program however, so that’s a great way to gain more readership.
Establish a profile on Author Central with your bio, profile, photo, and you can add a blog, videos, as well as the ability to change your blurb (for your book) easily and quickly. It’s a great way to get more readers, track sales, and get help from Amazon customer service. It’s like your own little website.
Consider updating your book cover or adding content with a new release once in a while (but not too often).
Promote your book at a discounted price for a limited time, maybe for a holiday sale or limited-time offer! You may also want to partner up with other authors and put together a box-set of books for a low price. Consider donating part of the proceeds to a charity of your choice. Great marketing idea but also a nice way to give back!
When you are ready to publish a second book, consider having a pre-order option so that on launch day, those pre-orders all drop at once and it looks like you got a bunch of sales really quickly.
Ask people who enjoyed your book to write a review. Reviews are golden (if they’re good ones)!
Have a platform. I heard this A LOT throughout the conference. It’s important for marketing! What’s a platform, you ask? Well, it could be Facebook, Instagram, a website where you get a lot of traffic, an extensive email list, or maybe you’re a public figure already, etc. Some way of reaching a large audience to promote your book.
Finally, don’t be in it for the money! 🙂
I highly recommend attending writers conferences. There is so much opportunity to learn, talk to other people, make new friends and contacts, and most of all….PITCH! Even though I chose not to this year because I am not ready, I will do it in the future. Now I understand what it means, how it works, and what the benefits are. You may get rejected, you may get accepted, you may spark interest….you just never know until you try.
Special thanks and appreciation go out to Robert Dugoni, a critically acclaimed best-selling author and board member of the PNWA for offering and awarding me a scholarship to attend this year’s writers conference. I’m am humbled and grateful.
Tonight, I’m attending a Town Hall event in Seattle to hear Ibram X. Kendi speak on his new book, “How To Be An Antiracist”. I may just blog about it later….stay tuned!