Book Expo… and other things about writing.

My friend Helen and I went to the Windsor Book Expo November 23, 2014 held at the St. Clair College Centre for the Arts in Windsor.  It was a wonderful opportunity to meet other authors and to find out what kind of books people are writing in the area.  Along with memoir there was romance, suspense, mystery, children’s books, and history.  The authors present were all happy to talk about their books and answer any questions I had about the writing process.  Most self-published with Windsor publishers and were happy with their experience.

When I asked whether or not anyone had a writing blog that I could check out, I was surprised to discover that most did not.  It is my understanding that a writing blog an essential part of the writer’s platform.  Writer’s today, especially if they are going to self-publish, and even if they go the traditional route, need to market themselves and one way to do this is by having a writing blog.

I am not as computer savvy as my children so when it came to starting my own blog I had to get in touch with the local library, where they showed me how to use Blogger and help me to set up a domain so that my blog would reach more people.  I am still learning how to expand my readership, and keep in mind the words of my daughter: “Keep working on it and they will come.”

As I edit my novel I am already thinking about how I want to market, publish and launch River of the Stick Wavers.  The common route seems to be to publish on amazon but even with that there is a learning curve.  There is an entire process to get through before it can actually be published.  I imagine the first time will be the hardest and wonder how I will get through it.  But, as with most things, when the time is right the teacher will appear, much like the right editor appeared when I was ready.

There are many people out there who are willing to publish your book so it’s best to do your homework.  First figure out what your needs are and then do the research to find the right match for you.  Some publishers offer packages where you can pick and choose what you want.  For example you may want their editing services and help with marketing.  But each package comes with a price.

Places like amazon or smashwords publish for free.  But then you have to find your own editor if you are going that route.  I believe amazon offers some additional services for a price but I’m not sure about smashwords.  Editors cost money so you need to find out what the going rate is and what kind of person you would like to work with.  Not to mention how much you are willing to spend against how much money you hope to get back once the book is on the market.

Suppose you have navigated the writing, editing and publishing, then you have to think about how you can market it.  I am not an expert by any means but I have been thinking about what’s possible for me.  Obviously a web site that offers your book for sale.  It can be linked to your writing blog if you have one.  The idea being that if people enjoy your blog and you’ve been talking about your book, they may be interested in reading it.  This is not a given however.  Your readers may enjoy your blog but not wish to purchase your book.  I think you have to enjoy writing a blog for the writing itself.

Whether you have a blog or not, you want to sell your book.  You can call your local library and ask if you can have a reading one afternoon or evening.  I recently went to a reading of romance author Christa Simpson and she did a wonderful presentation about the writing process and then read the first chapter of one of her book from the “Twisted” series.  She also took the time to talk to people afterwards.  Windsor author Julia Miller asked the Windsor Chapters store if she could set up a table to sell her book, “The Cisco Project”, and they agreed.  Depending on your book’s topic, you could offer to talk about your book at any number of organizations.  For example, one fellow at the Book Expo wrote a book about protecting kids on the internet.  He would have a natural market at schools, or with parent groups.

These are only a few examples of what writers have to think about as they make a name for themselves in the writing world.  And I am by no means an expert.  I am simply sharing what I have learned.  It takes time but it is not impossible.  Just don’t try to learn everything right away or you’ll give up before you even start.  Let things come up on their own and then determine the best solution:  Who do you know who could help you?  Research your topic.  Keep your eyes and ears open.  Go to book related outings like the Book Expo or join a writing group and find out how others writers have solved their problems.

All of my advice depends on what your expectations are as a writer.  I imagine that some people just want to write and get a printer to make up a few books.  And that’s OK too.  But whatever you want to accomplish as a writer, trust your instincts to guide you to what is best for you.

Raymond Hogan, an author I met at the Book Expo, said he’ll never be famous, he just hopes to make enough money so that he can keep on writing.  But whatever happens he will keep on writing.   My philosophy exactly.

Categories: Writer's Notes

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