I know what you’re thinking, “Recap the Magic? Really?” Yes! It was indeed magical! It was my first writer’s conference! I got a swag bag! I learned stuff! I met people! And no one laughed at me!
(Yes, one of my biggest fears was that when I met people and informed them that I was “pre-published” they would laugh me out of the borough of Manhattan. That’s right. They would laugh so hard I would magically be whisked away to Queens and all of the Mets fans. Oh the horror! But, alas, this was not the kind of magic I encountered. And also, Go Yankees.)
The first session I attended was entitled: Books2Go:DIY Publishing. It was about -yep, you guessed it- self publishing. I got to the room early to get a seat up front. Not because I’m a nerd (although I am a nerd, that’s just not why I sat up front), but because I need a new contact prescription and wanted to be able to frickin’ see. Anyway, the first person I met was Echo Garrett who greeted everyone with a smile as they arrived. She was a friend of the moderator, Mickey Goodman (co-author of the self-published title “Nine Lives of Marriage”). I asked her about her unusual first name and she was sweet enough to explain that her father was good friends with Buddy Holly, whose girlfriend’s name was Echo. When Buddy died, her father was either going to name her Holly or Echo, and obviously decided on Echo. Good move, Buddy’s friend; Echo is an awesome name. While we were waiting for the session to start, she showed us her self-published book that was just recently picked up by a publisher:
First of all, I thought it was just about the coolest thing ever. It’s actually made out of an orange, canvas material and a zipper encloses the pages. I cracked it open and the inside is filled with collage-like pages and excerpts from the subject of the book, Sam Bracken. Basically, the book is about his terrible childhood, how he persevered through all that chaos, and became a pretty awesome college football player. He was injured twice and worked hard to return to football. Now he is a speaker and religious missionary of some sort. I’m not of a religious nature, but I was intrigued. When Echo said she had a few copies downstairs for sale, I immediately counted the cash in my wallet. I read it on the train ride home…eventually…after the distractions passed.
This all happened in the first five minutes people! Are you feeling the magic yet?
The panelists were as follows:
- Jon Fine: Director of Author and Publisher Relations for Amazon.com. He was my favorite. He was very gregarious and always had a sophisticated response to everything. And he had long hair. Way to stick it to the proverbial corporate man, Mr Fine. He spoke about Amazon’s print process via CreateSpace, which allows authors to make their book available by printing on demand. This service is offered with no money down and ensures that stock of your book is always available. The print process and the ebook process via KDP are virtually the same. Amazon also has its own traditional publishing house that is gaining momentum. Apparently they sometimes turn to self-published works on Amazon as a sort of “annotated slush pile.” Good to know. I also have a bunch of stars in my notes around the words Author Central. I had to google it because I forgot why it was important. Oops. But the address is www.authorcentral.amazon.com and aims to increase the “discoverability” of your book. It allows you to update your bio and info about your book, making it “stand out among the tidal wave of content.” He offered another tip: meta data. These are key words/phrases/categories that are designed to exponentially increase the probability your book will pop up in online searches. The best way to do this is to utilize the “Search Inside” feature on amazon, which allows the entire book to be cross-referenced with web searches, not just the key words/phrases/categories. His las tip of the day for building your platform (which is important nowadays), was to note the habitual reviewers of similar books on Amazon (as in, those within your genre). Some of these reviewers even have blogs and websites. Track them down and ask them for reviews and interviews. Genius!
- Michael Heath: Book Coach for Self-Publishing, Inc and author of “Garlic Bread for Eugene.” Mr Heath was the quietest of the bunch, rarely grabbing for the microphone at all. I could barely hear him when he did speak, so I don’t even know what his book is about. I googled it and still didn’t come up with much. Oh well. His company is based in NYC and offers book printing, formatting, cover art, editing, isbn, etc all under one roof. They will even set you up on Amazon. They have a 100 book minimum though, and that is kind of a bummer. They also don’t offer any marketing services…which brings me to…
- Don Seitz: Senior Vice President of business development at Author Solutions, Inc and builder of partnerships with leading publishing and media companies, including IUniverse. Author Solutions is currently working with 16 different genre-specific imprints with traditional publishers who can potentially “discover” you. This is outside of their truly awesome set of services. They obviously offer book cover art, formatting, and print and ebook versions of your work, but they don’t stop there. They provide advice and counsel regarding pricing related to your genre and content. But the best part is they offer a variety of a la carte MARKETING AND PUBLICITY SERVICES! Virtual book signings! Book trailers! Simultaneous distribution of both the print and ebook versions to various sellers. And my absolute favorite: The Almighty Book Stub. A book stub looks like a credit card with your book cover art on one side and on the reverse side is a QR code (that black and white squiggly square you’re starting to see everyone, for my technologically unsavvy friends). When you are chatting it up about your book with someone and they seem interested, you whip out your book stub, they scan the QR code, and voila! Your book is on their phone or tablet! It doesn’t even have to be your whole book. It could be just a teaser or a first chapter. I love this idea. I would absolutely have the babies of this idea. (Not to be confused with having the babies of the person who came up with the idea. I’m a married woman, afterall)
And that’s where I will end it today. The DIY info was great. I can’t wait to finish my WIP and inquire some more about Author Solutions and its holy grail of a book stub. Sorry for the exceptionally long post, I know that’s not usually my style. I did learn a lot though, and I wanted to share it with you fine folks. Enjoy!