Post written as A.L. Kessler
So there comes a time when my head becomes so full of information that it's going to burst. The pounding headache behind my eyes hasn't seemed to dull, but of course that could be from switching altitudes.... This past weekend I was an attending author at the first ever Indie Romance Convention (IRC) and it was amazing. I gained so much information and met so many fantastic people. I plan on making a return appearance next year.
So where do I start? What information do I pass on, what tiny little gems of wisdom do I have for everyone reading this blog? My first one is, if you get a chance to go to this convention next year, do it. DO IT. I know it can be expensive, but the information and the networking makes it worth every penny. I'm going to break down some of the things I picked up while I was out there. I'm hoping this isn't a ramble post and I also know I'm not going to be able to post everything, but I want to hit some of the highlights that'll make you think.
Let's start with marketing...I won't reveal how much some of these authors make a month, but let me put it this way...I could pay off some things and live off my writing. How did they get there? They market and well. (We're skipping past the first rule of writing a good book). Most of them have spent money on marketing, a tool that came up several times was Book Bub, which I have checked out and it looks like a pretty cool deal. You discount your book through them, they send a newsletter to subscribers containing your book on a list, and it boosts your downloads. It can be pricy depending on which news letter you need to get on, plus you have to be approved for this service. They stressed social networking a lot, be it Twitter, Facebook, or Goodreads. It's all about personal interaction with readers or potential readers, don't constantly try to sell yourself, but let them get to know you.
They talked about branding and eventually getting to the point where you can sell on your name alone, but not many of us are there yet. Branding and image are two very important things, what are people going to remember you for at conventions? Let me give you an example: Red Phenix, a BDSM author, is never seen without her mask, and normally in a corset. It fits her genre and people remember her for it. I'm not saying you have to have something that elaborate, but it works. Leigh Savage dresses in a more goth style to fit her vampire writing. This is something I need to work on, because many times through the weekend someone told me I looked so young that they didn't believe I was an author, or they thought I was a teenage. (For the record, I'm 26 and I'm 5'2".....) That's not really what I want to be remembered for, despite the fact that in ten years I'm going to be thankful for that.
Street teams: Oh man did these ladies talk about street teams highly! If you don't know what a street team is, it's a team of people (go figure...) that help you out with spreading the word about new releases, doing reviews, liking reviews, and a boat load of other things.
Best tip: Rule of thumb, do not post more than once a week when it comes to advertising for your book.
Where to from here? Oh yes, I attended a panel called Indie publishing 201. This covered some of the same marketing things, but it also asked use the question of Who are you as a writer? I answered this in a heart beat, but then hesitated a bit. I introduce myself as a Paranormal Romance author, with a hint of steampunk. That's who I am...but before last year, I thought I was only a PNR author, not a steampunk, then suddenly that was added to my list. Think on this, sometimes the answer might change and some times it surprises you.
We covered covers in this panel as well and how important it is, especially with stock photos, to make your cover stand out, in a good way! Don't use just standard stock, put a couple (no more than 3) images together to make a new one, use photo shop to alter it, just the smallest altercation can make it look completely different. If you can, pay for original art.
Oh and editing, man this made me feel small. I have beta readers and then I have a final editor (now two of them), one of the woman suggested having NO LESS than 5 editors look for final mistakes and typos. It's not that I don't agree with the more eyes the better, I was just taken aback on how many people she suggested. You want to put the best work out there you can. I agree 100% with that.
Best tip: Cross market with other people, both in blogs and in books.
I'm sure I have so much more information in my head, but I'm going to stop this here. Some of the stuff I learned doesn't apply to everyone, but I'm putting it specifically towards my writing life. Again, if you get a chance to go to this convention do it! I'll see you all there in 2014.