Some things are so obvious that we forget to do them. I’ve lived in Atlanta for almost 3 years and I hadn’t been to writer events in all this time for several reasons including life, work, and mother nature derailing plenty of plans. Still, 2019 is up and running and if you read my assessment of the year, I mentioned the word “Breakthrough” and I’m focused on finally leaving a mark in the ATL and going for it in several new ways, which includes going to these events, meeting new people, and putting myself in a proper position to learn.
Last Saturday, March 16, Broadleaf Writers hosted a Self-Publishing seminar with the participation of Lynne Hansen, Jeff Strand, Margaret Johnson-Hodge, Bernette Sherman, Bobby Nash, and moderated by Zachary Steele, Executive Director of Broadleaf Writers. Each of these creatives brings a different aspect and perspective to the discussion and I think that was a key to why I think it was such a solid event.
Lynne has gone from doing any cover design she could get a hold of, to focusing on her genre of choice – horror. Jeff Strand is a hybrid author with over 40 books and a cheeky sense of humor. A peculiar thing to mention is that while many people post wide, he has honed all his efforts to focus on Amazon and KDP, dropping all other channels. Margaret Johnson is not a fan of Amazon, KDP, Createspace, Ingram Spark, or traditional publishing due to past experiences with each, that definitely offers a lot of food for thought. Her approach has been to connect with local printers, buy her own ISBN numbers, and focus 100% on physical books, something I hadn’t witnessed before, but refreshing to see. Bernette Sherman is a multi-genre author, has music out on CD Baby, and goes wide with her distribution. Her take was interesting because her fiction work has been quite uphill but she’s made it work through LOTS of effort… and then her non-fiction work resonates with people so much that with NO promotion, it still sells pretty solidly. To round out the panel, there’s another hybrid author, Bobby Nash, a friendly happy-go-lucky creative who is extremely keen in finding small, mid, and large events where he takes his books and makes it work. His approach was interesting because he had novellas that went out of print, got the rights back and sells them as standalones, compilations, and hard cover compilations.
What’s curious is that although the crew was diverse, everyone was friendly, talkative, and engaging in their own way, offering honest advice and sharing raw experiences to show people what could happen, good and bad. The event started at 9:30 and went solid until 4:30 with a lunch break in between. Tea, water, and coffee was offered, which was actually a great place to chat it up with people. Funny how water alone doesn’t cut it, but when you add tea or coffee to it, magic. Also, during the day, all authors participated in all the panels.
In regards to what was covered in the event, I’ll post the sections and my biggest takeaway from each panel.
1. The Choice to Self-Publish: Why You Should (or shouldn’t)
Self-publishing is not an easy road. It has great things if you’re successful but success is something you have to constantly work at. But if you have the itch, then why not? Main thing to remember is to have a back-up plan because you won’t go from zero to Rowling in one published book.
Every single person will have a different answer to this and you have to be flexible enough to find what works for you. Also, don’t jump the gun. If you think it’s not ready, make sure. One of the authors published and pulled out a fiction work 3 times before they were satisfied with the end result.
3. Putting It All Together: Editing, Cover Design, Interior Design, and More!
Do not skip the steps. In theory you can do it all… but be honest with yourself in regards to what you can do and what you can’t do. Cutting corners helps no one and the difference between success and failure is often in the details.
4. Sell More Books: Publicity and Marketing Before and After Publication
If you don’t promote, you will not sell. Set a budget for this, ramp up enthusiasm, and remember that you need to maintain momentum. If you lose it, you pretty much start from zero again.
5. Something Learned, Something Shared: Self-Publishing Success Tips and Tricks
Allow yourself to make mistakes, be realistic with your goals, and set milestones so you can progress your journey. Also, celebrate the victories, big and small, and use whatever means to stay motivated.
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Now for an overview.
From the topics covered, it showed that the seminar was designed to touch on topics for people at all points of their Writer Journey, whether you are just about to make the decision to self-publish or if you’ve already done it and are curious to learn more to see what can apply to your experience. There were about 30 people in the crowd and it allowed for everyone to be able to ask their questions and to get to know each other with whoever you hit it off.
The price for the event was $75 and I do think it’s a very reasonable price, since a LOT of what they shared could potentially save you a LOT of money. Simply put, people sharing the mistakes they’ve faced and the scams they’ve identified is worth the price of admission. That you get to meet fellow writers, get some valuable information, and later on access to audio files from all the conferences is just a major bonus. Each speaker offered their no-nonsense 100% honest perspective and answered every question they got from the crowd. Another valuable thing was to showcase just how DIFFERENT each of our paths is and that what works for one person won’t necessarily work for another. That was key throughout the day and I think it was very helpful for people who weren’t sure how to progress or what next steps to take.
The people at Broadleaf are very lovely and I’m sure that if you have any question they’ll be more than happy to answer. They answered all of mine and I had a ton.
Thanks for reading and if you’d like to learn about my experience with the Atlanta Writing Workshop, click here.
Peace, love, and maki rolls.