I promised to write about the Bridge to Publication Conference I attended in Lake Charles, Louisiana, but I didn’t realize how much I could learn in a one-day conference and how much I would have to write about. My experience will take all week to share–which suits me fine. I love having good fodder for my blog.
The folks who put this conference together did a fantastic job, and I was honored to be a part of it. So much wonderful information flew through that microphone that I couldn’t keep up with it all. The best I can do is give you some of the highlights.
The author panel consisted of myself, Edie Melson, Christa Allan, and Elizabeth Ludwig (I linked each name with their Amazon bio pages so you can check them out). We fielded a variety of questions, but the discussions I remember most–because I needed to hear them as much as the crowd did–pertained to editors and agents. When we as writers have an agent or an in-house editor, we are in a relationship, and it’s vital that we have chosen well, particularly when choosing the agent (we don’t always get to choose our editor).
Agents do more for us than just broker a deal. Elizabeth Ludwig’s agent keeps her focused and prods her a bit to make sure she’s working. Under his guidance, her career is off to a wonderful start.
Guidance is one of the things I know I’ve been missing. Don’t get me wrong, my previous agent was wonderful in many ways, but I need someone who can guide me through this business. I’m amazed and dismayed over how much I’ve done wrong because I’ve basically muddled through on my own. Although many things have gone well for me, I still wonder what would’ve happened had I been provided a bit more guidance–or had I at least studied the business side of this business before plunging in head first.
Of course, whether you need an agent depends entirely upon your goals. If you pursue your career as an indy publisher, you may not ever need one.
Christa Allan is a successful author for Abbingdon Press, but she’s finding that the things she wants to write about don’t have a home in the Christian houses–or in the mainstream ones. She writes for “the fringe group,” as she calls them: those Christians who come from intense backgrounds. These folks rarely have a history of daisies and butterflies, but presenting their stories often offends the sensibilities of other Christians. Yet their stories are distinctly inspirational simply because those whose lives these stories are based upon discovered the healing and forgiving love of Christ–which means the stories will offend the sensibilities of non-believers.
So Christa did some research and discovered how viable the self-publishing route is becoming. She presented the numbers for us during her speech–and don’t ask me to quote them, I can’t. But she showed what many already know: Indy publishing is becoming one of the most viable businesses around. Along with authors, there are indy cover designers, indy marketers, freelance editors (raising my hand here), indy formatters, indy book reviewers. Anything an author could want is there for the asking–and for a price.
But these days, I wonder whether that’s really a bad thing. Lynnette Bonner at IndieCoverDesign did my new cover for Give the Lady a Ride and formatted it and uploaded it for a very reasonable price–something around $300, I don’t remember–and I earned it all back within that first month.
These days, there is no excuse for bad books–none. Being cheap is not an excuse. Spend the money necessary to produce something fantastic and get it out there. After you’ve earned your money back, invest the profits in your next book. Be wise about it, of course–don’t be sucked in by scams, but do investigate, see who you can afford and go with it. You may discover that someone you’ve already networked with can be a valuable asset. Do the research, spend the money, get it out there, and let folks know about it.
Which brings me to the social media game. Edie Melson is one of the queen bees of Social Media. Edie writes for Guidepost, but she’s trying her hand at Steampunk–and I totally love her story ideas. Can’t wait to get my hands on them! Anyway, as is always true whenever I listen to a marketing guru speak, I learn how much I’ve been doing wrong and how to make it right.
I am such a flibbertigibbet–I can’t wrap my head around the concept of restricting my posts to one thing. That’s why this blog has so few followers. I write about me. It’s the only thing in this life that I feel like an authority on. This blog is about what I’ve learned in my walk down the road through the publishing business, but it’s also about what I’m going through when I’m sick or when Mom’s sick or when the weather shifts from bad to good and back again.
According to Edie, Don’t do that! Find something you’re passionate about and write about it. It’s fine to write about writing, but really–don’t you want to reach readers? Write about something they would be interested in. If you’re big on cross-stitch, write about it. Write about it everywhere and develop a following among cross-stitchers. Then, you can toss out, “Oh, hey! I have a book coming out in May!” or whatever, and you’ll have friends who will be interested and want to support you and read your new novel.
This much I did know, even without Edie telling me: You must treat social media as an opportunity to create friendships. It’s not the numbers that matter so much, because on Facebook and other sites, you won’t get to chat with everyone you’ve added to your “friends list.” What matters is the quality of followers, the thought that they consider themselves friends and are willing to champion you based on the fact you’ve developed a relationship with them long before you started pitching your book.
As for me, old habits die hard. This particular blog will always be eclectic. 777 Peppermint Place is my home where I can kick off my shoes and chat with friends about whatever is on my mind. I’ve noticed that my readership has shifted over a period of time. When I was writing about Mom, I had several followers who were going through the same things with an elderly parent. When I wrote about my illness, I had followers who also had to deal with chronic problems. When I write about writing– guess who my followers are?
Maybe someday, I’ll start a new blog and follow the sage advice of marketing gurus. Even if I do, though, you can always find me here–shoes off, cat on my lap, and coffee by my side.
So happy to hear you will always be here with <>
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Couldn’t blast me away!
Ooh, Edie Melson! She’s great.
She is a sweetheart too!
Glad to hear you’re going to keep 777 the same. Many may not follow when the blog is about you and real, but I for one prefer that!
Looking forward to hearing more about your conference!
Thank you, Robbye! That’s reassuring!
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I enjoy your blog. I really enjoyed this post, especially. You are a very talented writer. Thanks for sharing helpful information with the rest of us writers.
Thanks so much, Susan! I appreciate you and my other readers more than y’all could know.