Sunday, November 15, 2020

I attended a terrific writing conference this past week.

I spent the last few days at a writers' conference. 
The NC Writers' Network held their fall conference online, on Zoom, and I could attend from my home. I used my computer and listened in with my phone. Ed Southern, Charles Fiore, and Deonna Kelli Sayed work for the Network and they put together this fine group of instructors and participants from everywhere.

One of the best parts of online meetings is seeing all those participating. Although we have over 100 members in our NC Writers' Network West, I have not met many of them. But with Zoom, I have met several writers from the northern most county of our group, Henderson County.

I was very disappointed that we didn't have many of our local members attend the conference. It was most informative and one of the sessions that impressed me was Touring and Promoting Your Book on a Budget. The instructor was Lyndsay Hall who was in Los Angeles, her home. Lyndsay is the founder of Savilla Writers House. She is young but so savvy on her subject. 

Lyndsay plans book tours for authors. In her presentation, she gave us many tips on how to promote and reach people even during this pandemic. As I have been saying for years, an author today must get online, use the Internet to find readers. She spoke about community building and much of this is done through online media. Lyndsay spoke about authors she has worked with and has the experience she recommended to us. I will refer to my notes and the recording I will receive from NCWN for classes I teach and to help myself and my students when they need to get the word out about their books.

Another session our local writers would have benefited from was by Betsy Thorpe, an editor, with an impressive background. She explained the duties of an editor who works for a traditional press.

She told us about POD publishing and about small presses. She pointed out that with POD, (Print-on-demand) books never go out of print. The writer doesn't have to order tons of books to warehouse in his home.

Author beware when looking to self-publish a book. It is easy to get conned into an agreement where the author is paying far more than he receives for the service offered. Sometimes a publisher will offer packages for different prices and a list of services for the author. 

I have seen authors ripped off by publishers who help you self-publish. They might promise great marketing and distribution, but when that service is needed, the author finds he is expected to pay for airline tickets across the country to attend some festival he never heard of. Often these companies continue to ask for money from the author. So, we must be careful.

Betsey Thorpe praised Blair Publishing because they do many of the things a big publisher does for an author such as copy editor, line editor, book jacket design and press releases. This company only publishes ten books a year.

Over one million books are self-published each year. I was surprised when she said the 18-29 year olds were reading more than other age groups. I thought over 65 would read more, but not so.
I also learned that the category of books that are selling best are audio books. I know that is what I buy now. Paperbacks are next best selling category.

Another note from this conference. Publishers prefer books under 100,000 words whether it be memoir or a novel. The reason is the cost of paper and all the costs to create a book. The cost of the book must be kept down so the book can be sold at a reasonable price most people feel they can afford.

I appreciate the NC Writer's Network holding this online conference. If life were normal NCWN would have held their annual Fall Writing Conference in a major city in the state. I feel one of the blessings of this horrible virus is that I have found online writing classes and they have made a huge difference in my life. I expect to teach another one in January, 2021.

Have you taken any online courses during this pandemic?
Do you have any positives in your life because of the pandemic?

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