Author Solutions, authors, book marketing, book selling, helpful hints, Indie book publishing, self publishing, writing

4 Reasons Why Attending a Writer’s Conference Is a Really Good Idea

GLAWS presentationOver the past few years, I have had the opportunity and privilege to attend and speak at writer’s conferences in the US and abroad. I find it to be one of the more enjoyable activities I perform as part of my duties.  I think if you are in the midst of a manuscript, or trying to understand what it means to be an author today, attending a well-run writer’s conference can be a good investment of time and money.

It can be overwhelming, but worth it.

If you have never been to a conference, or if you are new to the publishing world, or if you have been previously published through a traditional publisher, attending a writer’s conference can prove very helpful for a number of reasons.

You will be inspired and encouraged by like-minded people.

Writing a book can be a lonely process. Many times, it is you and your notepad and keypad, working through the excitement and doubts of finishing a manuscript. While in most cases, you can find support with friends and family, it is not the same as sharing the experience with someone who knows the joys and struggles of writing a book. But at writer’s conferences, you will find people who know exactly what you are going through. They can provide tips and suggestions. In fact I am always amazed at the relationships, connections and even friendships that can be built in a weekend at a conference.

You will learn about all the options you have as an author.

Speaking at GLAWS

Always enjoy the Q&A at conferences. Spoke recently at the West Coast Writer’s conference. 

It is the best time in history, but it is also the most confusing time to be an author because you have more choice and opportunity than ever before. So it is important you have a clear understanding of what options you have and what publishing path is the best one for you to pursue for your book or project. That’s why it is important to check the keynote and breakout sessions for the conference. If they are only focused on one area of publishing, such as agents, I think that is less optimal.  Look for a schedule that includes a variety of perspectives and experiences. I think that is most beneficial.

You will hear tips on how to improve your skill as a writer.

Writing is a craft and it is work. So it is important to learn from those who have experience and success. As with any skill, you can learn from others and they can help you get better at what you do. For example, one of the best tips I ever heard at a writer’s conference was a successful author shared that she took acting classes. Not because she ever wanted to become an actress, but because she thought doing that would help her write better dialogue in her books. I thought that was brilliant when I heard it and showed what type of commitment it takes to improve your skill.

You will develop a better understanding of marketing.

Most first time authors do not always understand what part they will have to play in marketing their book. In fact for many authors, marketing is a mystery. I personally enjoy speaking about marketing to authors so they can better understand what they need to do to build a platform and a following for their book. Good conferences will include a variety of workshops on marketing so look for those in the schedule in the mean time, I have written a whitepaper titled, The 3 Phases of an Effective Book Marketing Campaign that many authors have found helpful.

So which conference should you attend?

Over the years I have had the opportunity to attend and speak at a number of conferences. I am sure there are more than what I have listed and linked to below, but I can say each of these offers writers  a great opportunity to improve their craft, make some great connections and be inspired to get to their goal. If you plan to attend one of these let me know. I have already committed to speak at some of them and look forward to meeting you in person.

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self publishing

What are some the next big things we will see for self-published authors?

This past weekend I was a panelist at the Writer’s Digest conference in a session that focused on new developments in indie or self-publishing. Panelists included Dan Dillon from Lulu and Amanda Barbara from Pubslush, which is a crowd funding platform for authors. Moderator was Phil Sexton from Writer’s Digest.

Jimmy Brass

Jimmy Brass is a graphic novel that was self-published through AuthorHouse in partnership with Golden Apple Comics

As usual, there was some lively dialogue and great questions from the audience and I always find the Writer’s Digest conference to be one of the best in the country. Being on the panel prompted me to think about what might be  some of the next big things we will see in Indie or self-publishing.

Self-published graphic novels will grow substantially

This past spring, we announced a partnership with Golden Apple comics to launch self publishing packages specifically tailored for graphic novel creators. About the same time, Amazon also announced a move into that space. Both are signs that graphic novel creators are going to be the next big group of content creators to take advantage of indie publishing.

Gorging Out cover

Gorging Out is a self-published novel that was recently optioned for film right.

Hollywood will produce a movie based on a self-published novel.

50 Shades of Grey will be in theaters shortly and while it started as a self-published novel, its meteoric success came once a traditional publisher, Random House, picked it up. I believe it won’t be long before you will see a film on the big screen that is developed from a self-published book. In fact, recently we announced another book that was optioned by Hollywood. Link to the release is here.  Stay tuned.

Subscriptions will not be as big a deal as the current bluster would lead you to believe.

If you pay attention to publishing news, subscription services are getting quite a bit of coverage. However, it is interesting to me that none of the news is around how many readers have signed up for the services. I think that is because consuming a book is a very different experience than consuming a song or a television show or movie. Pandora and Netflix do not require a significant commitment of time and much of what you get from their subscription services is disposable. A book is different. In the time it takes you to read a book, you could listen to one hundred songs or watch multiple movies. You can justify the value of a subscription because of the volume. I don’t think people will see the same value with books because they cannot consume them at the same rate.

I could be wrong and time will tell, but it will be interesting to watch.

Subscription services may lead to the resurgence of the serial.

While I don’t think book subscription services will get the traction of music and video services, I do think the format may fuel a resurgence of people writing serials and introducing a new chapter or what I call a micro-book each month. It has happened yet to any measure, but I think it will and may be one of the ancillary benefits of the new subscription services.

What do you think? Do you see any other big developments that I have missed? Use the comment section to let me know.

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authors, Indie book publishing, Publishing, self publishing, writing

Overcoming the last 3 roadblocks that keep writers from finishing their books.

In my previous post, I set forth five common roadblocks that I have seen stand between writers and a finished book. That list included:

  1. Forgetting why you wanted to write the book
  2. Losing the discipline of writing regularly
  3. Losing sight of the day you want to hold your book
  4. Doubt takes over
  5. Unclear what you will do when you are done writing.

I suggested ways to overcome the first two and so in this post, I would like to address the remaining three reasons why some writers never see their books in the hands of readers.

Losing sight of the day you want to hold your book

A third roadblock I often see is writers lose sight of the day they want to hold the first copy of their book.  Putting a date on the calendar and working toward that day is absolutely critical. For some authors it is a real deadline like having books for a speaking engagement. But for others, it is a day they have deemed important. One of my favorite stories is an author who I worked with who actually wanted to give everyone who attended his 50th birthday party a copy of his book…and he did.

So picture the day when you want to hold a copy of your book.  Then create a timeline to get there.  You may need to work with someone to set the key milestones to make your goal, but without a deadline, it is easy to have a project drift for months and even years.

Putting a date on the calendar and working toward that day is absolutely critical.

Doubt takes over

Another roadblock I see is doubt creeps in and paralyzes your keyboard.  This is very, very common.  Authors often wonder if their writing is any good or will anyone else want to read it.  Quite frankly. one of the most frightening things to do is to take something you’ve poured yourself into, hand it to someone else, let them read it and see what they think.  And I don’t care if it’s someone close to you, or a complete stranger, there is always a lingering fear of rejection.

Fortunately, there are a lot of online resources that can help you get feedback and make helpful connections.  One of the best sites is Book Country.  Another great resource is the Author Learning Center. Conferences are also very helpful. I particularly think the Writer’s Digest Conference is quite good for writers at all experience levels. Each of these provides a way to improve your work and help you gain confidence in what you are going to publish.Roadblock 2

Doubt can manifest itself in a lot of different ways.  In some cases it is doubt that your work is any good.  It is doubt that anyone will want to read it.  It is doubt that you can sell any books.  But the reality is you never know what can happen until you get your book into the marketplace.

There is one particular author I worked with who had worked on his manuscript for 10 years. It was a nonfiction history book. It was quite good, but he was really, really unsure about actually getting it published.  Finally, one day I looked at him and said, “Well, you know you can do a second edition,” and so he put that book into the marketplace. Yes he has sold copies, but more importantly, he has received comments from people all over the globe who have had a chance to read his book and enjoy it.

Unclear what you will do when you are done writing.

So that’s four out of the five roadblocks.  The last one is you are unclear what the next step is once you’re done writing.  This is a very common among authors who are so focused on getting their manuscript done that they don’t know exactly how they are going to get published.

I have written a lot about this topic in the white paper, The Four Paths to Publishing. Here is a link for a free download. It lays out your options and guidelines for choosing the right path for your project.

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Author Solutions, authors, book marketing, book selling, Publishing, self publishing, writing

7 predictions on what’s next for self-publishing.

WD WestThis past week I had the opportunity to participate in a panel at the Writers Digest West Conference, with the title, The New Frontiers of Self-Publishing.  The panel was moderated by Phil Sexton from Writer’s Digest and had a variety of knowledgeable panelists, including Amanda Barbara, from Pubslush,  Dan Dillon, from Lulu, and Ashleigh Gardner from Wattpad.

I really enjoyed this panel because I thought there was a great mix of people from different places in the self-publishing space.  Here was my take away about what people think we will see next in the self-publishing space.

  1. Crowd-funding–We have seen it in film and music. Should see the same trend for books. Pubslush is focused on this area right now.
  2. Data driving marketing–More and more authors are realizing there is data available to them that can help them target their marketing and endorsements or reviews. Lulu has a proprietary program called Helix which many authors are finding useful.
  3. Hollywood is watching now–As content demand for outlets like Netflix and DirecTV and the myriad of cable channels, producers and studios are looking at source material for a wide range of shows and movies. Self-published books are a place they are looking at very closely.  At Author Solutions, we are seeing more interest than ever before from entertainment companies who want to have access to the titles our authors publish.
  4. Search Engine Optimization–More authors are becoming adept at learning how to tag their blogs and use keywords in metadata so that when people are searching for a particular topic, their book or web site or blog shows up in the results.
  5. More Hybrid Authors–Not sure who first coined the phrase, but this describes the author who choses to self-publish one book, but maybe chooses a traditional contract for another book. Or the author may keep the digital rights, but give the print rights to a traditional publisher. The point is the line between self-published and traditionally published author will blur and people will choose the best option based on the project.
  6. Local Bookstores will really embrace local self-published authors–We are already seeing this trend. Local bookstores see local authors as a way to drive traffic to the stores. Most still won’t take books published by CreateSpace, but otherwise we are seeing more authors finding success right down the street.
  7. Serializing work–more authors are realizing they can build an audience by giving readers pieces of the story in parts. It isn’t a new idea in publishing, but self-published authors seem to be seeing this as an opportunity.

What do you think? Are you seeing these trends? Are there other things you think I missed? Use the comment section to share your throughts.

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Author Solutions, authors, book marketing, book selling, Editing, Indie book publishing, Publishing, self publishing, writing

The 2 most interesting questions I heard at the Writers Digest Conference West

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of speaking at the Writer’s Digest West Conference in Hollywood. I did a presentation titled, 7 Secrets of Successful Self Published Authors and was a panel member in the session Self Publishing in the Real World – What to Expect, What to Do, and How to Do It. I always enjoy these opportunities because I am able to bring clarity to writers and authors who can be overwhelmed and confused by all the changes taking place. Plus, I get to hear what authors are currently thinking. That is why I especially enjoy the Q&A period.

From conference to conference, I hear a lot of the same questions, but every once and a while, someone asks a question I have not heard before or asks it in a manner  that frames the issue in a different way.  At this conference,I heard two questions which I not heard expressed previously.

The first question was from an author who had a book about to go live and she asked in a somewhat exasperated tone, “What am I missing?” The reason for her question was she had been reading and preparing to launch her book and was a bit overwhelmed by all she had to do. It left her doubting whether she had missed something. Was there something she was not doing that would cause her book to be a dud?. I found the question fascinating because it illustrates the challenges many authors are facing today.

As I have shared in this blog, there are four paths to publishing today. One of them is what I call the General Contractor path, which means an author can hire a number of independent contractors to do the work of getting the book into the market.  That is the path this author was pursuing, and as her question suggested, it can be overwhelming.

The chart shows the tasks needed to get a book into the market,and as you can see there is a lot to do. That is why some authors prefer a publishing package or traditional publishing path.  In a few days, I will be releasing a white paper that provides greater detail about these publishing paths, but her question was very timely.

The second question that caught my attention was offered by a gentleman who had given his manuscript to eight different editors or agents asking for opinions. All eight gave a different critique and the range of responses were all over the map. His question was, “How do I know which editor is right?”

He was clearly frustrated, but again, this question illustrates one of the challenges  authors are experiencing as changes are taking place in publishing.  That is why I did a post a few months ago asking Alan Rinzler advice on selecting an editor.  He offered six tips on finding an editor that you can read by clicking here. I think you will find it helpful.

Drawing from Alan’s suggestion, I told the author he should make sure he is taking advice from an editor that knows his genre and also one that offers suggestions that still allow the book to be written with his voice.  I think it helped him narrow down the editors he would follow up with, but it does point out that too many opinions are not as helpful as one qualified critique.

Perhaps you have some questions about your publishing options. If so, feel free to use the comment feature to send them my way. I will do my best to answer them for you and help you chose the best path to becoming a published author.

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authors, book marketing, helpful hints, Indie book publishing, Publishing, self publishing, writing

3 ways to kick start the New Year, including a free webinar.

Writing is a solitary work.  Only one person can do it. Being an author, on the other hand, is a communal experience. In fact I find interacting with other authors and industry professionals is one of the most motivating and invigorating things any writer can do. We write by ourselves, but we need each other to be better writers and authors and marketers. That’s why there are three things I want you to be aware of that could be just what you need to start off the new year on the right foot.

  1. Free webinar: 7 Secrets of Successful Self Published Authors–January 10. This is a free webinar from Writers Digest. Click here to register. It is a repeat of the webinar I did in November, which had the most registrations and attendees in the history of WD University. If you register and can’t attend, you will still get an email that allows you to listen to the webinar at a later time.
  2. Writers Digest Conference in New York City–January 20-22. This is one of the premier writing conferences in the country. I will be on a panel with Jane Friedman as well as giving a presentation on secrets of successful self published authors. Click here for registration information and I look forward to seeing you there.
  3. San Francisco Writer’s Conference–February 17-19. One month later, I will be at the San Francisco Writer’s conference. I will have more to say about this conference in a later post, but you can click here to get registration information. I would not wait too long though if you are thinking about attending. They have sold out most years. I am not surprised. They have a very experienced staff and run a great conference. I will be presenting here as well.

Bottom line is don’t go to deep into the year without  finding some encouragement and education from fellow authors. These are some great opportunities to improve your craft and learn how to market. I hope to see you on the webinar or at one of the conferences.

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