Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The New Formula

Sharon Wildwind

I spent the weekend at When Words Collide III. This is a genre writers conference in Calgary, Alberta. If you have any possibility of being in Calgary next year between August 8 to 10, come join us.

Click here for the conference web site, but you might want to wait a couple of weeks before checking it out. There are a lot of tired people catching up on sleep right now.

Here’s three days of convention in 8 words. It’s the new formula for succeeding as a writer.

Passion + marketing plan + social media  + experimentation = publishing success

If you don’t love your book, no one else will. You have to be passionate about everything connected to your book: story, plot, characters, writing techniques, editing, and the nuts-and-bolts of grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

Marketing plan
Many writers have no background in business or marketing. They rely on business suggestions from family, friends, other writers, agents, editors, and publishers. The bottom line is that writers have to self-educate themselves about business, and the Internet is the best place to start.

All writers should be following one to three business experts. How do you find an expert? You test drive them.

Start with one recommendation. Here’s one: The Creative Penn by Joanna Penn.

Go to her site. Tour around to see what’s on offer. Download or subscribe to anything free that you can, such as a newsletter subscription, RSS feed, blog, free offers, etc.

Try her site for three weeks. Are you getting useful information? If, after three weeks, the answer to that question is no, unsubscribe from that site and move on to the next one.

Eventually you’ll find business experts who speak to your needs. It’s far better to be getting useful information from one to three sources that you read regularly than to have twenty sites bookmarked, but never look at them.

Writers play me-too marketing games. In one of the panels, an author described an inventive twist she’d used in her blog. Faces lit up around the room with people eager to try that twist, too.

Here’s the rub. By the time we hear about something inventive, it’s already been used. When we try to replicate it on our own website, blog, etc. readers’ reactions are likely to be, “Oh, no, not again. So-and-so did this six months ago.”

What we can do instead is to dig for the bones of the idea. What this woman had done was personal, positive, and could be accomplished quickly. So what could I come up with that would be personal, positive, and accomplished quickly? That approach is playing to the strengths of the idea, not being a copy cat.

Social Media
Many writers lack an ability to choose appropriate social media sites for their business because they don’t know what each service provides. It is so daunting to wade through tons of media trying to figure out each one.

Did you know that most sites have an about page? This is a short introduction to what their service is all about, and how to get started using it.

We’d all benefit from reading the about pages and test driving new social media one at a time. I can’t stress that one at a time enough.

If a social media isn't working for you after about three weeks, close out your account and test drive the next one. Again, you’re looking for one to three sites that fit your needs and that you know you would be comfortable using.

In the list below, you’ll notice one glaring absence: Facebook.  I am not anti-Facebook. I just didn’t find their about page contained a lot of helpful information.

Click on the links below for a quick introduction to what each of these social media provide.

The final panel on Sunday afternoon was an update on publishing. Five publishers, five different kinds of presses. Every one of them said now is the time to experiment, experiment, experiment with as many forms of publishing as possible. Here’s a quote from each.

All of us — writers, agents, editors, and publishers — are all on the same side. There are no enemy camps.
~ Jamis Paulson, Turnstone Press

Stop waiting, start trolling the self-publishing world. Kinds of publishing are stops on the journey. The end of publishing has been predicted for five hundred years and it hasn’t happened yet.
~ Adrienne Kerr, Penguin Canada

Publishing is watching culture unfold in front of you. The industry is constantly in flux. Authors need to be experimenting with different kinds of publishing for each of their books. Don’t stop. Writing is great. Write what you love.
~ Samatha Belko, ChiZine Publications

Original voices never go away. Love your book. Predictions are almost always wrong. There are a lot of experiments going on in publishing, and writers should take advantage of that.
~ Hayden Trenholm, Bundoran Press

Futurists are often wrong. It’s often more helpful to go back and look at what happened before rather than guess what will happen next. Chances are any answers given this afternoon will be wrong in one hour.  Publishing is going to be okay.
~ Robert Runte, Five Rivers Chapmanry

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