Sunday, May 13, 2012

Indie Publishing, The Shelfless Book

This weekend Pocono Lehigh Romance Writers were fortunate to have Jen Talty as their workshop speaker. The topic—Self-Publishing: What Really Are Your Options. Jen is an author and runs the technical side of Cool Gus Publishing with NY Times Best-Selling Author Bob Mayer, and she teaches Creative Writing at various conferences. She also is a marketing expert. Her talk went over the three hours planned and she was very generous sharing much valuable information on self-publishing, author branding, social networking and marketing. The workshop was well worth going to even if you aren’t planning to self-publish anytime soon. The same holds true for the book she and Bob Mayer wrote: The Shelfless Book. It’s a must read for all writers. There is a ton of valuable information about an author’s career path, author branding, defining goals, social media, marketing, the digital process and numerous tips for success.

In a world of instant gratification, I’ve noticed how writers seem to be in such a hurry to get their book up on Amazon/Barnes & Noble/etc., then expect to see the money roll in. As Bob would say: Forgetaboutit. Writers spend a lot of time writing a book, usually months, even years, but then many writers are in too much of a hurry to send it out to an agent/editor, OR slap a cover on it, format it haphazardly and throw it up on Amazon, Smashwords and Barnes and Noble. Then they complain because they get a rejection or aren’t selling thousands or hundreds of self-pubbed copies.

For Indie publishing: What about beta readers, editors, copy editors, a really good cover, correct formatting that will be tested and read on ALL devices not just the one or two the author owns. The digital formating might look okay on your Kindle, but hidden code might screw up the formatting on other devices. And you’ll get nasty emails from your readers. There are also different programs offered by Amazon and Barnes and Noble for selling the book. Are you going to put the book up for Free? How long? If not, how much are you going to charge? Etc., Etc…

Thorough planning and organizing are necessary for success in Indie, traditional or small press publishing—or if you plan a career in any combination of these.

Success isn’t an escalator. It’s a stairway—a LOOONG stairway and you have to make the effort to climb it. Persistence and patience.

Who you are as a writer (your brand) and what your goals are, are important for success. This is something that I’ve been giving a lot of thought to lately and also struggling with. Wandering aimlessly from writing project to writing project won’t make you a successful author. I haven’t done that exactly, I do have several books planned and set career goals. But as I’m growing and learning as a writer, I noticed my career path and goals have to be reassessed. I need to adjust my brand, change my focus. All writers should continue to learn and grow and not remain stagnant even if they are very successful.

Reading The Shelfless Book, gave me some great ideas about my brand and picking Jen’s brain (poor Jen) helped me immensely! I now have a plan, and a focus, and will be making some changes.

One point hits home in the book: “…you are going to have to [take] chances. If you play it safe, you might not have a large failure but you also won’t have any great successes.”

I have to highly recommend TheShelfless Book. I also bought Write It Forward: From Writer To SuccessfulAuthor. That one is worth reading too. Check out their blog for regular posts

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