June Writers' Forum
In my journey through the steps of independent publishing, refining my writing skills, and most recently completing a successful agent search, I’ve come across some excellent information, tips, tools, and shortcuts that I think would be beneficial to any writer. Once a month, I’ll share the “best of” information and news from the publishing industry as well as feature other authors and writing instructors with tips to share. I am incredibly thankful for the assistance and advice given to me from writing and publishing professionals and am happy pay that forward. On a professional level, I also use my publicity and editorial skills to aid other authors through my company Lost Lake Press.
Oh, there are some fabulous bookish happenings in southern Wisconsin in July!
July 12 – Adriana Trigiani at 7 pm at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts, 19805 West Capitol Drive, Brookfield, WI
Here's the link for more information and to get tickets. This event is brought to you through a literary collaboration by Books & Company in Oconomowoc, Boswell Books in Milwaukee, and the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts. (If you haven’t read Trigiani’s best-selling books, you’re missing out. She’s a fabulous writer.)
July 21 at 7 pm – Paul Selig, Author of The Book of Truth. He is considered one of the foremost spiritual channels in the world today and his acclaimed books including I Am the Word and The Book of Mastery teach a clear & practical prescription for personal growth. Deepak Chopra recently described Paul's teachings as "authentic, straightforward truth, straight from the sourcefield."
July 24 at 6 pm – Jim Taranto, Author of Ars Botanica, will read and discuss his book of grief and love, written as letters to his unborn child.
Mystery to Me Bookstore in Madison has a July schedule packed with fabulous events.
July 1 & 2 - Marcie Colleen (Super Happy Bears picture book author) will be at the Monona Terrace.
July 8 – More kids’ fun with Claymates by Lauren Eldridge.
July 13 – Doug Moe interviews Dave Watson about his book Walkabout Undone
July 15 – Dean Robbins will read from his novel Margaret and the Moon which celebrates Margaret Hamilton’s contribution to the NASA space program.
July 15 – 8 pm – Ticketed event at the Barrymore Theater featuring comedian Tig Notaro as she discusses her novel I’m Just a Person. (You may remember her from the set she did on having cancer.) For tickets/more info click here.
Please let me know of any upcoming book releases or events that you’d like featured in the Writers’ Forum!
The Five Skills Every Writer Should Develop
This article by Frances Caballo is deceptively simple . . . only five skills. That doesn’t sound so hard. I chose to feature this article precisely because Caballo’s focus is so succinct and accurate, but also because it is easy to ignore some of these steps. I’ve summarized the article briefly below, but please click over to the full article for this excellent advice.
Develop Your Craft – This seems obvious, but every day I see authors who aren’t ready to put their book out in the world attempting to do just that. Make sure you’ve written the best book you can first!
Learn How to Use Social Media – Yes, you must do this. Even if you only focus on one or two platforms. We live in a digital age and we can’t ignore that fact.
Learn How to Blog – I know many of you will disagree with this because you’d rather focus on your “real” writing. Blogs can help you connect with your readers and keep your website current. The resources in this article are a great place to begin.
Learn How to Build Ads – I need this advice!! I don’t think it matters one bit if you are an indie author or traditionally published, you should know how to market your own product and utilize ads on Amazon, Facebook, and Instagram (particularly if you are targeting younger audiences.) I will share a step-by-step process as I learn my way through the ins and outs of ads in the coming weeks.
Drop the Shyness – I know a lot of writers are natural introverts but Caballo is touting the need to create video content. Her reasoning is sound, even though I’m not sure I’m sold on the idea for myself.
Quick Notes from Book Expo America
Book Expo America (BEA) was held this year in New York from May 31st – June 2nd. It is THE networking event in North America where authors and publishing industry insiders gather. Amy Collins, Contributing Writer for The Book Designer, has some interesting notes in her article about the event.
Take time to read the whole article because it’s good to know what happens at these types of events. I focused on her notes about the growth of the library market, particularly for e-books. I’m going to work hard in the coming months to make sure my ebooks are available through one of the distributors that supply libraries. Currently, I am not and I’m making a big mistake!
Indie Authors – Did you know about Indie Author Fringe?
Indie Author Fringe is a three-times a year, online conference for self-publishing authors, brought to you by the Alliance for Independent Authors (ALLi), fringe to the major global publishing fairs like Book Expo America. There’s a ton of info to be had at this virtual conference! ALLi is a great all-around resource, too.
Sometimes the jargon used in the self-publishing world is hard to understand—even for those of us who have been around it for a while. Jay Artale put together this Glossary of Book Marketing Terms to help us out. And even better there are a ton of helpful links included to make it easy for us to research a topic.
Bookbaby Self-Publishing Survey Results
Bookbaby is a company that partners with indie authors to bring their books to life. They have many types of packages and although I find them to be slightly expensive, I know authors who have had great success with them. Recently, they released the results of a self-publishing survey that I thought was quite interesting. I took part in answering the survey questions a few months back and now we can see how other authors are independently publishing and marketing their work. To get access to this downloadable PDF you must create a Book Baby log in. I wouldn’t let this stop you. I never mind seeing their emails, but there is an unsubscribe button at the bottom of each communication. I think this info is worth a quick read at the least.
The take away . . . there’s no magic bullet (which we already knew.) But, I did find a few promotional activities to try that I haven’t attempted yet that may help me achieve a broader readership.
Using a Pen Name
One of my favorite writing and industry advice professionals is Jane Friedman. She often highlights guest posts on her informative blog. In this article, Helen Sedwick guides us through the step-by-step process of choosing a pen name. (If you happen to be in the market for one!)
How do you know if you need one? Why use a pen name at all? Helen Sedwick also gives us the reasons why choosing a pen name might be important. For instance, I write in the children’s market, but if I decided to switch to writing steamy romances, it would be smart to use a pen name to avoid any of my younger readers from stumbling onto something that is not appropriate for their age. See her full list here.
Helen Sedwick is the author of The Self-Publisher's Legal Handbook, which I highly recommend.
Traditional Media Promotion . . . It’s Not All About Social Media!
I know that I talk about this A LOT. But this is my area of expertise, and I don’t like to see authors missing out on ways to gain free publicity. The Secret Promo Power of Obscure Media Outlets by author/book public relations expert Sharon Bially on the Writer Unboxed website caught my eye. It touts the value of gaining attention in some of the smaller, less well-known media outlets and how this attention can lead to broader connections that expand your book sales opportunities.
Amazon Sales Rank
Okay, back to Amazon. You didn’t think we’d get through a whole Writers’ Forum and not talk about Amazon at least once, did you?
Who’s Pointing at You? (And why it matters.)
Equally interesting as the methodology for Amazon Sales Rank is David Gaughran's article "Who's Pointing At You?", which analyzes the connections your book may have to other books and why it even matters. Seriously, take the time to read this one and use the nifty tool that shows whether you’re connected to other books. Don’t be scared if that is really limited . . . that just means there’s some work to do. (I’m right there with you. Even though I have quite a few also boughts, when I did this, I had no connections other than my own books.)
I guess that means I’d better get back to work!
Happy Reading & Writing, Valerie