This was my second year on a row at the Winchester Writers’ Conference, and what fun it was? A course on writing conflict in your novel, by Adrienne Dines and a course on Social Media Marketing for Authors by Eden Sharp. (www.wordshaker.co.uk should find her)
Both interesting but I think I learnt most from the Marketing course. The message I took away from that was, I need to get on Twitter. That’s going to be a big step as every time I’ve looked at Twitter I find my self totally confused by the site. But I have added it to my do to list.
Although a few of the direct publishing companies have had a presence at the Conference in the past, this year Amazon had a tabletop. They were doing presentations on how to publish for Kindle and on CreateSpace. They were so popular that the venue was moved from the rather cramped conditions in the Book Fair into the large lecture theatre. Which takes me to the theme of this post.
To explain – one of the attractions at the conference are the One to One’s. This opportunity to place your work in front of authors, agents and publishing representatives is an important use of the writer’s time. Because I have decided to publish my book directly I only went to see two agents and the rest were publishing experts. There was a difference in the approach between the agents and the others. The agents were very critical of my novel. One of them was rather infantile in her approach, demonstrated by her failing to realise that a barrister needs time to qualify and therefore the date she left home might be different from the date she began to work. The two publishing consultants, one the editor of the Writers and Authors Year Book, were complimentary about my writing and suggested ways of improving my synopsis and pitch letter. Which led me to think that agents who have acted as the gatekeepers for the publishing industry, and were the power brokers, need to realise that they have to offer something to the writer or she will publish their work directly to the reader. And that’s goodbye to their 15%.
I have made the decision to engage Authoright to provide a publishing package for my book Crucial Evidence. Gareth Howard, the CEO, has experience of both self publishing and of traditional publishing deals and he is passionate about authors having the choice of how to publish and indeed,making the right choice; something that suits them rather than the agent or publisher. Indeed the message I took away from the Author Lounge at the London Book Fair is that if a writer wants to keep control of the publication and marketing process then direct publishing is a good alternative. When I saw a publisher last year at the Winchester Writers’ Conference she said the publisher would want a series of five books, while I though three would be sufficient to take my main character Cassie Hardman from successful junior barrister to QC. Indeed I’m not sure I want to write so many books based on the same character or to write books to someone else’s timetable.
I am aware of some authors who have written amazing books getting very little marketing support from their publishers and having to do so much themselves. Paying for those front tables or window displays in well-known bookstore
is costly, only the books publishers think will be best-sellers get that kind of treatment, otherwise it’s do it yourself.
So perhaps direct publishing is the way forward for me. Decision made, I sent off quite large sum of money (think of it as vet’s bills for that imaginary horse) a copy of my manuscript and a synopsis and wait for Authoright to copy edit the novel and produce a cover, just as if it was produced by a mainstream publisher. I may be self -publishing but that does not mean it is going to be anything less than professional.
On another front I have formatted my skinny volume of poems for Kindle, very difficult, and for a paperback on CreateSpace, much easier; the two Amazon platforms for self-publishing. The proof copy arrived on friday and I need to check it for errors and then continue with the publishing process. Although the book will be for sale, it’s really a memento of our time living in this sixteenth century farmhouse which comes to an end this summer.