Indie Author Day Report

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Indie Authors!

Indie Author Day at my library was a success! Ten people attended, just the right amount for our small meeting room. Most of them were indies who had already published a book or two, or were working on one. So we had a very collegial discussion.

Author Rob Cerio presented on “How to Know When Your Manuscript Is Ready” – technically as well as artistically.

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“The” Rob Cerio

Romance Author Farrah Rochon spoke about being a “hybrid author,” one who publishes both with a traditional publisher and independently. When the rights to her early novels for Harlequin Romance reverted back to her, she re-published them independently, while continuing to work with other New York publishers.

One thing Farrah said which I found very interesting, is that she feels her trad-published books provide her with discovery — marketing, being in brick and mortar bookstores — but her indie books are where she earns more money these days. That seems like a sound strategy, I wonder how many authors are trying that.

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Farrah Rochon

Author Zach Bartlett, who is also one of my librarian coworkers, presented on working with a small press, which is kind of in between indie and trad: you can get into bookstores, get professional book production, but you usually don’t earn an advance, and have to do a lot of marketing yourself.

I also want to thank my workshop partner, Xavier DeSoto, who came by to help me set up for the event, and took the pictures. Thanks, Xavier, that support meant a great deal to me!

We also watched several education videos from the Indie Author day website, on topics like designing a book cover and marketing. They had good information.

There is some other useful stuff on that website, which we didn’t get to, or wasn’t appropriate for the venue. Ingram Spark, the POD publishing arm of the book distributor Ingram, has a podcast about indie publishing, and there are a couple episodes of it there, on Print on Demand publishing, and on using ISBNs (International Standard Book Numbers, the UPC code for a paper book that allows it to be ordered and moved through the various retail systems, including library purchasing.)

There are two videos about leveraging Wattpad for your writing platform, which I found very interesting. Wattpad has always gotten very mixed reviews, but it obviously works for some people. It even has its own publishing imprint now, and a development arm that shops Wattpadder’s stories to Hollywood for film and TV. Are Wattpadders being fairly compensated for that? I don’t know, you would certainly have to do your research.

There is a PDF “Guide to Self Publishing” from Elite Authors, which has some solid information in it, if you can hack your way through the hard, hard sell on the first five or so pages.

You can also see what went on at other libraries across the country on social media by using the hashtag #indieauthorday2019 on Twitter and Instagram.

All in all, my day went very well and I hope to do the same next year. Next year, Indie Author Day is on November 7, and it is being co-marketed with Nanowrimo. So we have to think of some way of combining the two. Maybe a day-long write-in, with breaks for workshops, games, and food.

Attendees, stay in touch. Let’s work together over the course of the year. I hope to see you all next year!

Indie Author Day

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I will be hosting Indie Author Day at my library tomorrow from 11:00 AM — 3:00 PM.  Please stop in if you are interested in self or independent publishing, and to get an idea of what’s involved.

Local authors Farrah Rochon, Rob Cerio, Zach Bartlett and myself will be presenting.

Robert E. Smith Library, 6301 Canal Blvd, corner of Harrison Avenue.

Happy #indieauthorday to all!

You Just Have to Do It, Part the Second

 

 

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When I was shouldering my way into Geek Fest, April, one of my colleagues, encouraged me to donate a few copies of my book to the library, so that attendees could check them out.  Which is something I always intended to do, but never got around to, because of my shyness.  Another way I just “had to do it,” as Alys Arden said, but didn’t.

But with April’s encouragement, I did, and the cataloging department kindly had them ready in time for Geek Fest.

Of course, I earmarked a copy for my own branch that I manage.

That’s it above. One of my staff members put it on display. They were excited to finally see it.

“They could make a movie out of this!” my coworker Belami said.

(I think so too, but find the possibility unlikely.)

And now, all three copies of my book are checked out and there is even a waiting list!  I have to tell you, that makes you feel like a real author.

It was lovely to receive this support from my coworkers.  It’s encouraging.

That’s the thing about “just having to do it,” — it’s not all nerves and anguish.  It can be good too. You get support.  There are rewards. (Besides, you know, selling books.)   This is what I learned from this.

And the more you do it, the easier it gets.

So, if you are an indie author like me, you might look into donating a few copies of a book to your local library.  Particularly the first book in a series, if you have one.  It’s another way for people to discover your work.  If they like it well enough, they may be moved to buy your subsequent books.

If you work exclusively with e-books, you might look into the SELF-e platform libraries use.  Again, it’s a donation, but it’s a way to get noticed.

It’s up to the inclinations of individual libraries and librarians whether they collect indie authors or not.  Some libraries are very supportive of their local authors. Some are not.  But it can’t hurt to offer.

DON’T, however, try to sneak in a purchase request for your books as if you were just a regular patron.  We librarians can always tell, it smacks of desperation, and it just pisses us off.  Be above board and donate a few copies if you can.  If nothing else, they will go to the library book sale. You will get noticed and help the library earn a couple dollars.

 

You Just Have to Do It

I had a great time at the Geek Fest down at Main Library Saturday.  I sat on an author’s panel, and we had a really good talk, “Can Science Fiction inspire change in the real world?” (Spoiler: Yes.)

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Left to right, authors Claudia Gray, Brandon Black, Maurice Ruffin, myself, Zach Bartlett, moderator.

 

I met bestselling author Maurice Ruffin, author of WE CAST A SHADOW:

 

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Alys Arden was running the Tubby & Coo’s table, and she hand-sold my book! (Or tried to anyway.)

 

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Alys was a real team player Saturday, helping out and supporting other authors, like having an impromptu panel with Bryan Camp:

 

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Big shout out to Alys, whose third book in the Casquette Girls series, The Cities of Dead, just came out.  I appreciated her support Saturday.

Bryan’s second book, Gather the Fortunes, sequel to The City of Lost Fortunes, comes out later this month!

So I did have a really great time.  But the thing is, I had to force myself to do it.  Represent myself as an author allied with the library, who deserved to be there.

I have real issues with marketing my work.  I’m so introverted and socially avoidant, I quail at the thought of putting myself or my work out there, even if it’s just online. God forbid actually in public in front of real people.

But you have to do it.  No one’s going to read your books if they don’t know they’re there.

When my book was first published, I asked Alys, “How do you make yourself market your book?”

And she said, “You just have to do it.  You just have to put yourself out there.  It’s hard. But you just do it, and it gets easier.”

Well, I struggled and avoided it for a long time, but when I learned of Geek Fest, I thought, I have to be involved in this.  I thought, Hey, why aren’t I on that panel?

So I talked to the organizers, some of my colleagues at Main Library, and said, “Hey, I want to be on that panel at Geek Fest.”  And they said okay.

And it went well.  And there are rewards too:

 

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This is Bethany.  She came up to me after the panel.  I thought she was going to give me grief for trash-talking Laurel K. Hamilton.  (An unpopular opinion.)

But no. She said, “I’m Bethany. I work with your husband.  He gave me your book to read, and I loved it!”

Wow! My first time hearing from a fan out in the field. What an incredible moment.  Isn’t this why we write at all? To reach people, to be heard? Thank you, Bethany!

“She said, “I just wanted you to know.”  I offered her one of my cards with this website on it, and she said, “I have one, Sam gave it to me.”  So, hi Bethany! Great to meet you!  We talked about my follow-on book to Daughter of Atlas, which isn’t a straight sequel, but shows what happens elsewhere when Atlantis falls.  Which Bethany said was what she was curious about in a sequel. So that was wildly encouraging.

They say that’s the way indie authors build their fan base, one reader at a time.  The only way you can do that is by reaching out to them, both on and off-line.

So, if you are struggling with marketing your books, don’t be afraid.  If I can do it, anyone can do it.  Go ahead and shoulder yourself onto a panel at your local sci-fi con.  You never know who you might meet.

 

SPFBO Update

The Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off has reached its finals: the blogger/reviewers have chosen their 10 finalists, and all will read all to determine the winner.  Read about it here.

My book is not among them.  In fact it was cut during the first round of eliminations.

Ouch. That hurt.  But I have to admit that I seriously overestimated my chances on this thing.  There are many, many authors entered in the Blog-Off that are far more experienced than me.

The mini-reviw of my book on Team Weatherwax is here.  The reviewer (not sure who) said Daughter of Atlas has “pacing issues.”  Ugh.  That’s hard to hear. But no else who’s ever read or reviewed it (that I know of) has ever said that, so I guess it’s a matter of opinion.

My biggest disappointment from being cut so early, though, is that DoA didn’t get a cocktail made to memorialize it by Book Wol of Tome & Tankard.  I was so looking forward to that. There is a general cocktail for all the early losers here.

One thing I have noticed, is that most (I think eight out of ten) of the finalist books have more “painterly” covers than your usual indie-published books, with their Photoshopped covers.  It looks like the authors paid to have artists actually paint cover paintings for their books, or at least composit them in a more illustrative style than the usual photorealistic , CGI’d indie covers we are used to.  It makes the books more “professional” looking, that is, more like commercially published books.  It probably contributes a positive halo effect to the books.  They are appropriate to the genre, fantasy, and are what readers expect to see.

(Not that I am displeased by the cover of my book, or having second thoughts. I love the cover of DoA, and I have always received positive feedback from it. But it is something to keep in mind for future works.)

Author and YouTube book vlogger Quinn Buckland gave DoA a stellar review here.  Check it out. Thanks Quinn!

My interview by Michael Baker of the Thousand Scars Muse blog is here.  I did see a small sales spike from that, thank you Michael.

And I have a new review on GoodReads from XDesoto, here.

Well, there’s always next time.  My forthcoming book is science fiction, so I can’t enter SPFBO with that, but I will return to fantasy and to my series Atlantis Fallen in the future, so hopefully one day I will be able to enter the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off again.

Does anyone know if there is a similar contest for indie sci-fi?

Finally, let me extend my thanks to Mark Lawrence, who founded the Blog-Off, and to all the bloggers and reviewers, who are putting in an incredible amount of work on their own time, for love of reading and the genre, and also to all my fellow authors.  Good luck to all the finalists!

SPFBO 4 Begins!

Several of the authors, myself included, are running a 99c price promo. Check it out:

 

 

Author Ann Woodley created this video. Thanks, Ann!

Participating author Andrea Domanski put together this list of the participating authors.

M. D. Presley put together a tournament bracket for the blog-off, so readers can follow along, here.  Hah, that should be fun!

The SPFBO has a Facebook page, which seems like a good place to stay up on the action.

I only learned about SPFBO in the final rounds of the last contest, so I’m really not sure how all this is going to play out.  We will experience it together.  Fingers crossed!

SPFBO 4 Starts Tomorrow!

The Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off, Round 4, starts tomorrow, Wednesday, August 1.  I’m sure many of us authors are nervous and excited.

To celebrate, many of the participating authors, myself included, are dropping the price of their ebooks to 99 cents from August 1 through 5, to allow fans and readers to follow along and purchase as many of the entry books as possible.  Thanks to author Andrea Domanski who put this whole effort together!

You can find all the discounted books here at her website:  http://www.andreadomanski.com/spfbo

Of course, you can purchase my submission, Daughter of Atlas, here, as always.

Daughter of Atlas was assigned to the Team Weatherwax review team, and Bookwol of Tome & Tankard is already reading it!  Hm, hope that doesn’t mean I get eliminated early.  We’ll have to see, I guess.

Good luck to all the authors, and a huge thank you to all the reviewing book bloggers for putting in this huge amount of work, for love of the genre and indie publishing. And especially to author Mark Lawrence, who created the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off four years ago.