Mark Coker, the founder of Smashwords, the e-self-publishing sensation, wowed us with the sheer number of ebooks being published (Smashwords will publish about 90,000 this year) and the variety of devices they can be read on. His favorite reading device is his iPhone. These days practically everyone has a smart phone on them at all times. Imagine having access to millions of books at your fingertips no matter where you were.
Mark also quoted Amazon statistics that where a book is offered in paper or pixels, approximately one ebook is sold for every paper book. Some of us just love our ebook readers. Not that we’re ready to get rid of paper completely! I’m just saying, try it if you haven’t already. You might like it.
Laurie McLean, a literary agent with Larson Pomada Literaray Agents and former CEO of a Silicon Valley PR agency, told us how to get ready to promote a self-published ebook. She talked about developing your author brand – use your name or pen name on everything! She talked about websites and blogs and Facebook and Twitter and Google+. She talked about Goodreads and getting your book reviewed on line, and OMG. Yes, a little overwhelming, but let’s face it, these days you have to do most if not all of your promotion yourself anyway, even when you’re published conventionally.
Anne R. Allen, keeper of an award winning blog sparkling with gems of insight about the publishing business and the writing craft, took some of the fear out of tweeting and blogging. Basically she said, just get in there, be nice, and have fun. It was so great to meet Anne after following her blog in stealth for so long. One piece of advice that I took to heart was, “comment on blogs!” I guess even the famous folks are glad to hear from us, rather than being bothered by adoring kudus from the peanut gallery of unknowns. Who knew?
There were also fun talks about the craft of writing, the kind I usually delve into exclusively. Playwright Paula Cizmar got us thinking about voice, and how it’s more than just the way a character or narrator speaks. It’s also who she is and how she feels, where she’s come from and where she hopes to go.
Jonathan Mayberry, known for his YA zombie books, exploded with enthusiasm about the writing life, and told us to be audacious.
Even though this conference was strongly supporting self-publishing in ebooks, one important point came up again and again. Write a great book! First and foremost put your effort and creativity into writing the best book you can. Get beta readers to help you iron out the rough spots and catch typos. If you can afford an editor and feel you need one, find a good and ethical one through friends and websites. Self-publishing has a well-deserved quality stigma, but we can change that. You are your own gatekeeper now, so don’t fall down on the job.
Yesterday I went to an SCBWI workshop on The Nuts and Bolts of Publishing, and the focus was much different. These folks are deeply devoted to the old way of publishing. I’ll post their counter arguments tomorrow, along with a list of the Pros and Cons, as I see them.
If there’s anybody out there reading this, I’d love to see your comments. (Anne R. Allen is so right about comments being the lifeblood of a blogger. I’m starting to get it, Anne.)
So, what do you think?