May 2, 2011

Lessons from the Maryland Writers’ Conference

 A quick update: Mom and I are in Ft. Lauderdale filming our segment for Lifetime TV’s “The Balancing Act” so my lovely sister (and Webmaster) is making sure our blog post is published today. Thanks Dana! I don’t know what I would do without my family.

On April 2, 2011, I attended the Maryland Writers’ Association Writers’ Conference in Baltimore, Maryland. This was my first writing conference. I learned so much and met a lot of fascinating people. I can’t wait to attend more conferences and workshops. I’ve definitely caught the bug.

The highlights:

1. Traditional Publishing Does Not Put Many Marketing Dollars into Newbie Authors

Even if you are fortunate enough to get an agent who then sells your manuscript to a traditional publishing house, you will still be responsible for promoting yourself! Publishing houses are not going to put a lot of money into an untested, unproven author or book. This really surprised me. I thought the whole point of getting into a traditional publishing contract was to have professionals sell your book. It’s simply not the case.

2. Social Media is an Excellent Marketing Tool

Authors in this current publishing environment MUST have a presence in Social Media including, but not limited to: Facebook, a website, a blog, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Goodreads. Readers want access to information about a book and its author. Social media is time-consuming, but for the most part it is FREE marketing. However, if you know you won’t stay on top of a Twitter account but would enjoy daily blogging, focus your time wisely. Don’t spread yourself too thin. This includes participating in sites like LinkedIn, Goodreads, blogs, etc. relevant to your book and industry. Give before you expect to get!

3. If you don’t like Marketing/Business, don’t publish a book. Enough said.

4. Remember: Editors are Readers

Your reader needs to be constantly craving what happens next, and an editor is no different. Your query and sample pages should be compelling and tease a bit. Your writing should keep offering choices with no immediate resolution.

5. Advice from an Editor (John David Kudrick)
            a. Write in a white hot line that sizzles
            b. Show me, don’t tell me
            c. Take the reader there; engage the reader in every possible way

If you wouldn’t want the first five pages (what most agents ask for during submissions) to represent your story, don’t start with those five pages.  He also suggested letting the story flow and THEN editing. I tend to get caught up in revising along the way, and I need to focus on getting the story on paper and then making it better.

6. Plan and Budget for Marketing

First, scour the internet and keep a notebook on marketing ideas based on what others are doing successfully. What appeals to you as a reader? Set a marketing plan and budget and stick to it.

Sample Marketing for Pre-Launch
-          Send out Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) for reviews
-          Submit ARCs to contests
-          Mail out teaser mini-boks
-          Blog Tour
-          Set up Social Media presence

For Release:
-          Run Sweepstakes/Contest
-          Launch party
-          Ramp up Social Media
-          Cold calls/Bookstore and other Store visits

-          Send out materials for next book
-          Send thank you notes to reviewers and anyone who helped along the way
-          Book Signings
-          Create newsletters and send mass emails from “reader” list

Final thoughts: Take your time picking reviewers since you want the right one for your book/genre. Evaluate what is working for your book and ditch what isn’t. Spend time on your cover!

Tomorrow: Check back tomorrow for details about our Lifetime visit! Pictures, too.


MDK said...

Thanks for the insight. I'm attending a Writer's Conference in Pittsburgh beginning May 12. I'll post highlights of that event sometime this month.

Tia Bach said...

I look forward to hearing what you learn at your conference. If only I knew some of this BEFORE I published. And the publishing world is changing so fast you have to keep learning!