It was a nice, warm day today, so I decided to walk over to the University of Louisville to participate in this year's Kentucky Women's Book Festival. Before I decided to start this 'push' towards getting my work published and taking my writing 'seriously', I didn't even know that this event existed.
Due to staying out until about 2:00 a.m. this morning, I didn't actually arrive at the festival until about 10:30 a.m., and it started at 9:00 a.m. Luckily, the first talks didn't begin until 11:00 a.m. I had looked the event up online, so I already planned out which speakers I wanted to listen to.
Topic: Interesting Ways to Market Your Book
This woman wrote "Kiss Your Elbow", a memoir about growing up in post-WWII Louisville. Before she came into the room, some of the women who were waiting for the talk to begin were saying that Deanna had sold about 1,000 copies of her book. As Deanna began to speak, I realized that, were she a little more tech savvy, she could have easily doubled that number.
After asking us to meditate for a couple of minutes about our visualizations about our book, she went on to say that the first step to marketing was to set up a book signing--the one thing Peggy DeKay saidnot to do during her presentation last week. Apparently, Deanna had gotten her thousand copies through a combination of friends and family, support from organizations she belonged to and / or spoke about her book in front of, requesting that her book be used as high school curriculum materials and placed in the bookstores of various establishments, book signings (of course), and various other word-of-mouth-esque methods. I thought to myself, 'This women has done a lot of leg work for a thousand copies of a book she spent ten years writing. Wouldn't Amazon, Google, Twitter, and Facebook be much more...energy efficient options?'
Deanna also talked about keeping your name in front of the public. I thought that that made sense. But she seemed weary of doing so in a more technologically involved way. She really pushed being a speaker at various events and having 'book parties' (like a Mary Kay party). Now, for someone who appeared to be relatively extroverted (she was talking to a room filled with people, after all) this methods seemed to make a lot of sense. But for someone who is more introverted , these probably aren't the best routes.
Overall, her presentation was good (especially since she gave us all an example press release and a list of her literary contacts), but I was disappointed that she never mentioned the use of Twitter, Facebook, blogs, Amazon, CreateSpace, or any other internet outlets as a means of marketing for one's work. It seemed like the elephant in the room, from my perspective.
Topic: I Want To Write A Book!
Sara produced a collection of magazine columns entitled "Bar Belle". It's all about various things that happened to her while drinking, along with some musings on the bar scene and nightlife in Louisville.
Whereas, Deanna was rushing to cover everything that she planned to speak about in the 45 minutes that had been allotted to her, Sara only spoke for between 5 and 10 minutes. The rest of the time was filled with pauses and questions.
Based upon Sara's original 'spiel' and the types of questions that were asked afterwards (about 80% of which she couldn't answer confidently), there seems to be two major issues with the festival choosing her as a speaker.
First: She did not produce a singular work--it was a collection. From that questions that were asked, and the topics of the other speakers there, they had all worked on a single project, from blank pages to published copy. She just decided she would collect all of her old columns into a book. She had already done all the work, piece-by-piece over the years. So, when she was asked questions about burn out, writer's block, and deadlines, she really didn't have a lot to say because she didn't deal with any of that.
Second: She seemed to have left most of the publishing / marketing up to other people. So, she didn't have any specific tips about where to go, or who to use, because she just handed everything over to Lulu.com. Not that there's anything wrong with that, per se, but it just seems like there isn't a lot to talk about for 45 minutes if you simply handed your project off to an agency and they took care of everything else for you--to the point that she had only a ballpark figure of how many books she'd sold (200+), had yet to receive a royalty check, and wasn't even sure if her book was available on Kindle. She seemed to have a lack of that autonomy that I think a lot of self-published authors seek by getting away from agents and publishing companies. It was a very interesting 'lecture' to watch.
Topic: Bookmaking: A Thoughtful Process
Now, Sharon wrote a book called "Bernheim"
that included a lot of research, so her approach was a little different from someone who is writing fiction, but she had a beautiful presentation set up that was entertaining and thoroughly explained the concepts she was presenting. She stressed the importance of editing and used a lot of funny quotes from authors. It was probably the best presentation of them all.
I'd definitely attend the festival next year if my schedule allows. I did pick up some great tips and insights while I was there, so it was definitely worth the walk.