ASJA 2012 Recap the Magic: Part 2

I know, I know.

“Jordanna East, what the frick took you so long? We’ve all been salivating at the mouth, waiting to hear about the rest of your magical ASJA experience. What gives?”

Please put down your pitchforks, my beautiful faithful followers. I was out of town a few days and had planned on blogging during my down time, but down time apparently didn’t take the trip with us. Or we left him at home. There are two sides to every story. It depends on who you talk to, really. Anyway, once I got back, my notes made no sense, being over a week removed from the actual event. So I had to decipher them. Plus I wanted to include the rest of the sessions I attended in one post, rather than drag this out until I attend my next writer’s conference (ThrillerFest July 2012 in NYC! See ya there?).

So, in my first ASJA post, I spoke at length about the Books2Go/DIY Publishing session, which rocked. If you missed that post, it’s not gone. This is the internet. Take a breath and click here to catch up.

Following that session, I frolicked (well, maybe I just walked, but whatever. It still felt magical) to Your Post-Conference Game Plan: What To Do When You Get Home. I decided on this one because it was my first conference and I had no idea what to do when I got there, let alone what to do when I got home! I was like, “Holy Moly, the magic continues once I get home?”

The moderator (the “MC” if you will, for those who haven’t been to a writer’s conference yet) was the extremely affable Jennifer Fink. She is a health, medicine, and parenting writer. You may have seen her in Parents (print), or on Healthline.com (online), or in a host of other stuff. I got to see her in person though. Nana nana naah nah. She is also responsible for retweeting the link to my first ASJA recap, which ended up being featured on the Atrial Fibrillation Daily online newspaper. Pretty nifty, right? All because I saw her in person.

The lovely panelists of the session were Hannah Hudson, Stephanie Cajigal, and Jennifer Nelson. Hannah is the editorial program manager at WeAreTeachers. Stephanie is an editor within the medical publishing division of John Wiley & Sons. Jennifer is a medical freelance writer who has written for Self, Shape, Women’s Health, and many others.

I know what you’re thinking. I always do. It’s a running theme here at JJE. You’re thinking that these ladies, while lovely and talented, have absolutely nothing to do with writing a novel. Perhaps. But they provided valuable tips about what to do with all the contacts I had amassed during the conference. They asked who had a stack of business cards already. Confession time: I only had four, but raised my hand anyway. I was only there for the day, it was still early, but I knew I could get at least a dozen before the day was out. They also asked who had paid to be there. Everyone raised their hand on that one. I had even used a small portion of my fantasy football winnings for crying out loud! You know what they said? They said, “Don’t waste the investment.” And that’s when I knew that whatever these ladies had to say, I damn well better write it down. I wish I would have wrote it down more legibly though.

So here are some soundbites:

  • “Strong emails can lead to work.” When you email the contacts you’ve made and you reiterate that strong first impression, you’ll stick out. They may offer you work. They may recommend you for work. They may hire you when you query them. Oodles of possibilities that can lead to you having money to buy food.
  • “Be succinct.” Don’t email your new contacts and tell them what you were wearing, what they were wearing, that your dog has the same name as their dog, and you’re going to name your first born child after them. They don’t care. Get to the point. People are busy. Especially since they probably had to take off work to go to the conference.
  • “Familiarize yourself with the contact’s work.” Just because Stephanie is an editor at a publishing house, I can’t query her about my novel. As I mentioned, she’s in the medical division. Oh, your main character is a doctor? That doesn’t count. In fact, John Wiley and Sons is entirely scholastic. Do your homework. Get your google on.
  • “Make social networking connections.” Find your new contacts on Twitter. LinkedIn. Facebook. Branch out a little people! You saw how Jennifer Fink retweeted my link and it was featured on a website? Stuff like that happens all the time. But not if you just go home and watch Jersey Shore and eat Snickerdoodles.
  • “Notes are an untapped resource.” Personally, my notes are an illegible resource, but I’m gradually untapping them. But seriously, you took a bunch of notes about what to do, websites to check out, groups to join. For what? To shove that notepad under a wobbly coffee table? Of course not!
  • Networking contacts aren’t a one-time event; stay in contact for more opportunities.” What’s the point of emailing someone to say, “Hey, great meeting you.” and then never contacting them again? Keep yourself relevent. However…
  • “Proactive vs Pest: No more than 2 follow-ups.” Obviously, if you have a dialogue going with a contact and they seem to genuinely like you, this doesn’t apply. But if you queried someone with an idea and they didn’t get back to you the first time, they might be busy. Follow up to make sure you didn’t get lost in the chaos of their life. If you follow up again, and there’s still no response, you’re gonna have to give it up. Which brings us to…
  • “Don’t be a creepy stalker.” This was my favorite line of the session. The very funny Jennifer Fink said it after the ladies of the panel were advising us not to send cards or gifts to our new contacts. This should be self-explanatory guys. NO ONE LIKES A CREEPY STALKER. And your new contacts most likely enjoy their jobs and don’t want to switch careers because you can’t adhere to the rules of the restraining order.
  • “Listen to all the instructions, suggestions, and criticisms that accompany rejections.” If you are so brave as to query an idea to someone you’ve met, and they don’t accept it, but instead offer advice, TAKE IT! They are professionals. They took the time to be helpful when they didn’t have to. They could have just as easily said , “Umm, no. Kick rocks sucky writer.” But they didn’t. They said, “Next time, change A, B, and C.” They took the time, so you should take the time also. You owe them that much.
  • “Don’t burn bridges.” You want to be a professional? You have to watch how you act and what you say. You can’t rant on Twitter and Facebook or your blog about the agent who rejected you or the beta reader who said your novel was crap or anything else that deals with your craft. My first recap was reblogged by Ebyline’s own blog. Ebyline is a corporate partner of ASJA. Had I had nothing but negative things to say about the conference, that would have been bad, no? See what I mean? You never know who’s reading and watching. So pretend you’re a little kid and you’re trying to avoid Santa’s “Naughty List.”

Wow, scroll up. Way up. See that part where I said I was going to include the rest of the sessions I attended in this one post? That’s obviously not going to happen. Apparently I absorbed more from the Post-Conference Game Plan than I ever imagined. How magical!

ASJA 2012 Recap the Magic: Part 1

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!