Saturday, July 26, 2014

RWA 2014 in San Antonio: Daily Highlights

It's hot. Really hot. So much so the natives warn you to carry water with you because you can so easily become dehydrated. Fortunately, I don't have to walk that much outside. Two blocks to the hotel where the conference is being held and a mall where food is available. I can do that much.

Wednesday: The Beau Monde Conference

The Beau Monde is an online chapter of the RWA (Romance Writers of America) specifically for authors of Regency romance. Our 350 members are located literally all over the world. Once a year we have our own conference the Wednesday prior to the beginning of the RWA Conference.

This year we had sessions including the Battle of Waterloo, English stately homes (have my to-visit list made for the next trip, thanks to Cheryl Bolen), book promotional strategies, and women in politics in the Georgian era. In the evening many of us dressed in Regency costumes for the soirée, where dances were taught and food (not Regency, alas, but the Texas-shaped cookie was fabulous) was served. The best part was sitting and chatting with other like-minded authors.

Oh, and my friend and critique partner, Cora Lee, won the Royal Ascot, the Beau Monde writing contest. She deserves it!

Cora Lee, 2014 Winner of the Royal Ascot

Thursday: The Management of Multi-Author Indie Collaborations

Several of us are planning to put out a self-published boxed set of Waterloo-themed stories just prior to the bicentennial of the Battle of Waterloo on June 18, 2015. This session was so helpful in giving me tips on how to organize such a project.

  • Determine your goals ($, exposure to new readers, increased author rank, etc.) 
  • Have a marketing plan. 
  • Setting up the financial aspect. 

Overall, I felt energized by what I had learned and am even more enthusiastic about the project. My roommate and I brainstormed until we nailed down specific details necessary to get the ball rolling.

Friday: Indie Success With No Publishing History

Author Melody Anne, Kathleen Brooks, and Liliana Hart became New York Times bestselling authors without having gone the traditional route first. Well, in a way they were lucky, because 2011 was the “magic” year when self-published authors started to hit it big. Things are different now; the market is saturated with books and you have to be smarter than the competition. These three ladies are not geniuses; they made lots of mistakes and learned from them. Here are some of their suggestions for success:

  • Writing comes first. Don't allow the social media to get in the way of writing. Writing is your best promotional tool. 
  • Don't release just one book. Write a series of five novellas and release them all at once, making the first one free. 
  • Make your mailing list a priority. Caveat: not a good idea to “force” people to sign up for your mailing list. You want people to want to read your mailing list so they will actually read it when it comes. Have the newsletter sign-up pop up when readers visit your blog. Offer a giveaway for premium prize in your newsletter so that subscribers want to open it when it comes and find out what it is. Note: Katherine Brooks only does newsletters when she has new releases. Liliana Hart does one monthly. 
  • Form a street team of super-enthusiastic, super-committed fans from all over the world. Not a huge group. Send them boxes of books, cards with ebook coupons, swag, etc. and offer them special giveaways. Ask them to tell you why they like your books. These fans are worth their weight in gold to an author! 
  • Get your books in every format possible, including other languages. One Italian fan on your street team can make a huge difference in your Italian sales. Best languages: German, Brazilian Portuguese, Italian, French, Spanish (in order). 
  • Try to release or re-release something every 30 days to keep up your Amazon presence. Short stories and novellas count as much as books. Writer faster! 
  • Advertising is a waste of time and money. Writing is your best promotional tool. 
  • “Don't leave money on the table.” (Liliana Hart) Don't pay someone to do your formatting when you can do it yourself. 
  • However, these authors all emphasized getting professional covers. They did not have them when they first started. Yes, they succeeded anyway, but that was 2011. 2014 is a different story. 
  • Why would you need an agent? Definitely to deal with foreign rights and sales. 
  • Do you need an LLC? Depends on your situation. Some states make it an easy process; others not so much. Check with a lawyer if you're not sure. 

Saturday: Only a Fortuneteller Knows For Sure

Although I have things marked in the program, I don't always end up doing what I planned. Here are the sessions I have starred:
  • Motivation: the Glue That Holds Stories Together 
  • Mastering the Art of Great Conflict 
  • The Villain's Journey 
  • Why Your Book Should Be On Every Retail Platform, In Every Form, Around the World 
  • Easy E-Books With Scrivener 
  • Book It, Danno! 
The 2014 Rita and Golden Heart Awards Schedule: I'm really looking forward to this because my good friend Piper Huguley is a finalist in the Golden Heart competition…for the second year in a row. So I'll be cheering her on tonight hoping she'll be called up on that stage!

Piper Huguley, Golden Heart Finalist

Wow, Have Things Changed!

Sylvia Day mentioned in her keynote speech that the publishing world has changed exponentially since she first joined RWA ten years ago. I've seen a huge change just in the last two years, since I attended my first RWA in Anaheim. Self-publishing sessions existed in greater numbers than in the past, but there was still a predominant idea that traditional publishing is the “legitimate” road to success. Indie publishing was still very much the “red-headed stepchild” of publishing, for authors who didn't want to “pay their dues” (i.e., suffering years of rejections and discouragement before some benevolent editor bestowed on you a book contract to validate your hard work).

This year, self-publishing is everywhere! Not just sessions, but an indie book signing, a trade fair with specialists who can help you with book covers, formatting, promotions, and just about anything you might need.

Who knows what another year will bring? How many big New York publishers will be left? Will people still be reading print books? Will Amazon rule the world? What do you think?

1 comment:

Tina Donahue said...

Great post, Susana - publishing is really changing and quickly too.