During the June meeting, ECWG member Michael Walborn shared some of what he learned at a recent writing conference. He has written the following so that those who weren’t at the meeting can also benefit from his experience. Thanks, Michael!
As an aspiring writer, constantly learning, I hungered to find the answers to questions I had not even thought to ask. My solution: Attend a writer’s conference, May 1-4, in Oklahoma City. Embassy Suites was to be the site of a writer takeover — an entire hotel, with the interior courtyard lined with tables for agents, publishers, and editors for writers to sell their wares. The information available on writing was tremendous, the learning experience excellent.
Upon signing up for the conference, one of the best things available was the opportunity for an experienced editor to read my manuscript and present her findings. During the next four days, in any of the five conference rooms writers like me could pick whichever workshop they wanted to attend. Workshops ranged from “How to compete with the big publishers” to “How to conduct a murder,” with times available to pitch your manuscript to agents and publishers. I selected a number of different workshops and targeted my information download for the Indie or Independent (Self) Publishing route.
How to Compete with the Big Publishers (Jerry Simmons) – Publishers operate under the strict premise of running five to ten thousand copies of a given book for the year in order to generate profit. Independent authors, however, are not bound to such a large printing constraints. Any advance that a signed author receives will be held against the copies not sold. In short, you the author have to pay back money for copies that did not sell. Indie authors should take advantage of big publisher weaknesses in the following areas:
- Don’t be afraid to give away free stuff: Your books, etc. Develop your audience.
- Use regional markets: Smaller newspapers, smaller radio-stations.
- Use regional publishers… Stay out of the big markets.
- React quickly to business trends – You the indie author can print 50 copies.
- Your book cover should be top notch – Use: E-lance.com & Odesk.com.
- Don’t forget digital copies/Ebooks – You keep your rights, too.
Choosing to Self-Publish… Now What? (Darlene Shortridge) – I had my manuscript, albeit bled all over in red ink by the editor, but once my masterpiece had been corrected what then? The workshop with Mrs. Shortridge was filled with superb information:
- Editing: Get an editor – if not, you’re just journaling.
- Marketing: Best weekend to start with your book – Mother’s Day.
- Smashwords: Excellent source for marketing your book. Allow them to distribute.
- Layout (of your book series): Put the first chapter to your second book at the end of your first book.
- Formatting: Digital/Ebook formatting done for free by CreateSpace/Smashwords.
- About Author: Be sure to put information about you in your book.
- Business Basics: Copyright with Library of Congress $35.00.
- Godaddy.com: Reserve the websites to your would-be titles and your name.
- Public Speaking: Do not require a fee to talk to groups; simply ask for a book table at the back of the room.
Your Fantastical Science Fiction or Young Adult Setting (Tara Hudson) – Mrs. Hudson’s talent in writing and ability to relate information was unparalleled at this writer’s conference. Her information was all about creating a “Bible” of information on the setting of the fictional world to be utilized:
- Create Characters: Know how they look. Know something about them your readers will never know.
- Layout the physics of your universe, before-hand.
- Real-Settings: If you use real settings; go there!
- Every character in your book must have at least one sentence describing them.
Odds ‘N’ Ends: Other useful pieces of information I obtained with no real category:
- From the editors – If you get writer’s block, “Kill someone… Kill that character off in your book.”
- Draft2Digital.com – Awesome book publishing service. They make 10% profit (You make the rest). They will convert it to digital copy as well.
Now that you have a ton of useful information; get cracking on that manuscript. I hope the information I ran across at the writer’s conference will be useful. Keep in mind many of these writers and experts I met were very approachable and offered a plethora of advice once asked. Consider too, that those who attend a writer’s conference you may spend one-one time with an experienced author or publisher; by inviting them to lunch or dinner, you can glean whatever information you need. This is the perfect time to be around like-minded people whose goal is to create written works and establish networks of writers, agents, and publishers. I would encourage you to take at least one opportunity to attend a writer’s conference.