Mid-April in Charleston, SC. Like many others, I attended the first PubSmart conference “Emerging Authors, Emerging Avenues.” There were some traditional editors and agents present but mostly this conference concentrated on self-publishing and what authors need to know (as well as any number of vendors happy to tell you what they could do for you).
I learned a lot. I’ve been through the traditional publishing process in my work life (i.e., the one that pays the bills for now). So I was familiar with the editing process, the length of time, etc. Not having self-published, I hadn’t thought through what all happens behind the scenes that a writer would have to navigate.
So what did I learn?
Editing – I got a better understanding of the types of editing – diagnostic (an overall assessment), developmental (helping to development the story or character), and line or wordsmithing. Each comes with its own pricing and timeline. I think I sort of understood this, but it was helpful to have it laid out and to realize just how much I would have to shell out for it and how long it might take.
Reviews – I learned about various reviews and timing, costs, and the submissions process. I knew about Kirkus and had heard about books being reviewed, but hearing about the process was helpful. In addition, thinking about peer reviews, whether it’s on GoodReads or not, a representative for new app called BooksILove talked about it, and it sounds helpful. I like the idea of being able to share a book with my friends that I like through an app. I am still learning it, but its free at this point which is also great. There’s also something called Net Galley (www.netgalley.com) that is free and allows reviewers, bloggers, journalists, librarians and other to read digital galleys for books. It’s also free to sign up and receive their newsletter, and you receive information based on genres. I am still exploring how that might be helpful for a new author.
Book clubs – I know there are lots of book clubs out there but hadn’t thought about using “Meetups” for finding them.
Marketing – There was lots of advice on this. Creating a buzz by keeping your cover secret. Having a pre-launch plan with blog posts, tweets and making sure you have a package of your cover, biography and book description. Asking other writers for blurbs. Knowing your community and being a part of it. Having a platform which includes a website with email list (Mail Chimp is free to start until you reach a certain number of emails on your list) and other social media – some of which I knew and some of which I wasn’t as familiar with, such as analyzing who is visiting your website.
Crowdfunding – I have to admit I had some issues with this but then I learned about PubSlush which is a crowdfunding source that allows people to pre-order your book vs simply supporting you while you write. I am more comfortable with a product for someone than simply asking for money under a different program like Kickstarter or Indiegogo. Still not sure its something I want to do but glad to know about it.
Social media – There was lots of information, not only about using social media but also about managing it. Hootsuite and Tweetdeck sound great for this. I don’t yet have a handle on them or how to use them all yet but it’s on my list to work on.
There was also tips about websites – including copyright, using Google analytics to see how many are coming to your site and for how long. Facebook seems to be less important according to some panelists and how to convert social media to a marketplace remains a challenge. Pictures in blog posts, on Twitter and Facebook are important. There was talk of what’s in the public domain and the Library of Congress was cited as well as the Getty images as long as credit was given. Wikimedia was another site that is supposed to have free images. I haven’t checked out what’s in the public domain so be sure to confirm what you are using and whether you need to provide credit or if you can use it.
I came away with my head spinning at all the information that was given but the biggest takeaway from this conference was how generous everyone was with the information. Sure, they were vendors and some of the panelists are selling services and products but there was a lot of information that was freely given and discussions on lots of these subjects.
How about you? Did you attend? Have you been to a conference lately that you found helpful.
BTW – this is slated to be an annual conference.