I love the Winchester Writers Conference. It’s great to be part of such a huge, friendly group of people who share my passion for writing. The food is good, the instruction is excellent and I always return home with my confidence and enthusiasm restored.
In case you didn’t manage to get there or you went to different sessions, here’s what I bought back from the 2012 Conference.
- The digital revolution is gathering speed. On the train to the Conference, I didn’t see anyone looking at a book or newspaper. Everyone was reading Kindles, iPads, laptops or phones.
- Self publishing has gained respectability. Although most of the authors I met were looking for a traditional publishing deal, many were also thinking seriously about self-publishing.
- Successful self-publishing is now seen as an alternative route to a traditional publishing contract, especially for unagented authors. However, no one was sure how many books you need to sell before publishers became interested or what benefit you’d gain from a publishing deal if you’d already sold 100,000 copies by yourself.
- All writers need to have an online presence (or author platform) to help promote their books. This doesn’t just apply to those who are self publishing. Traditional publishers now expect authors to actively help with marketing, and some prefer to work with authors who have already established their platform.
- No one is sure which are the most effective social media to use to build your author platform. Facebook, Twitter, blogs and Linked-in were all mentioned but different speakers preferred different combinations. It seems best to concentrate on the ones you are most comfortable using.
- Despite the importance of social media, we need to be careful not to let it swallow up all our writing time. Half an hour a day seemed reasonable, but you may need to increase this during crucial periods like a book launch.
- Part of marketing yourself as an author involves developing a brand. So your website, blog and business stationery should have a similar feel. (Mine don’t at the moment so expect to see some changes in the coming weeks.)
- Book trailers are an up and coming way to promote books, and they work best when they are interesting or unusual enough to go viral. The one for Knit Your Own Royal Wedding is brilliant, but too difficult for most authors to make by themselves. The one for Stravaganza: City of Swords is less demanding technically but still works well.
- It’s now possible to sign ebooks using Kindlegraph.
- Analysing your plot in a different way can help you discover why it’s not working. Thanks to this exercise, I now know how to improve The Green Sheep – the book I’ll be publishing after There Must Be Horses.
If you are interested in self-publishing, you’ll find plenty of information to help you on www.helpwithpublishing.com.