Writers’ Conferences … Good, Bad or Indifferent?

fall woods
Michigan Woods in the Fall

My bride and I have plans with some dear old friends in the evening on Saturday, October 8, 2016 … but I’m spending the day at the Ninth Annual Rochester Writers’ Conference at Oakland University.

Rochester WritersI’ve found it to be one of the best one-day conferences around … a tribute to its organizer, Michael Dwyer. I always come away with new, useful information from the excellent presentations … and from other attendees I meet.

I’m also looking forward to the keynote address this year. It’s by Keith Taylor whose poems, stories, reviews and translations have appeared widely in North America and in Europe.

The recipient of a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (and also from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs), he teaches at the University of Michigan … where he also serves as Associate Editor of Michigan Quarterly Review.

If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know I’ve attended this conference every year since its inception, trying to discover new ways to market my work. Given my professional background some folks wonder why, and I’m never ashamed to tell them.

I spent 40 years in advertising, public relations and marketing, but as an indie author I find trying to market my own books, particularly on a short (almost non-existent) budget, one of the hardest things I’ve ever tried to do. It’s much harder than writing them. I keep going to conferences hoping to uncover a real clue how to do it.

One of the things I’ve discovered, indie-authors tend to suffer book blindness when it comes to their own work … and I’m guilty-as-charged. Even though I’ve won multiple awards for my fiction, it’s still difficult to know how to go about promoting it.

Don’t Sell … Build a Community
I already know a barrage of “buy my book!” promotions won’t work. There’s so much of it on The Twitter, Book of Face and other social media feeds, it’s become like background noise. Most people skip it.

Yet, you still see independent authors doing this kind of promotion incessantly, looking for a shortcut to sales. I’ve done it myself, more than I care to admit, but it’s time that could have been put to better use by doing the one thing I know really helps … building a community.

What am I talking about when I say you should build a community?

Well … specifically, I’m talking about finding like-minded people and starting conversations, like I try to do here.

Once you find potential audiences and influencers, you have to do something to reach them … and this is the part where a significant percentage of indie-authors drop the ball.

Whatever social media platforms you choose, focus on the people you want to talk to. To be successful, give them something they can use.

Asking questions, discussing common interests, commenting on new discoveries, re-tweeting posts, adding value, entertaining, sharing relevant links and, most of all, being authentic.

Imagine Your Future Readers
When I did the exercise trying to understand who my potential blog readers for indie-publishing might be, I saw people with an obsession for reading and writing. I saw some who just started taking creative writing classes, and others who have kept a writing journal for years.

I saw people who had something to say, but didn’t know where to start. I saw me. I saw you.

When I did the same for my fiction, it was harder, but I have to assume, even though our specific interests might be different, most people read it for the same reason I do … to be entertained.

Then it occurred to me … in choosing something to read I also look for authors that have something to say beyond their books, like one of my current favorite writers, Brad Meltzer. After all is said and done, it’s the real person you will relate to most, not a name on a book cover.

For all you indie-authors out there, to build a community, don’t shove your books at them and treat folks you meet like a meal ticket. They’re people just like you. Get to know them. Show you care. Add to the community.

The Hard Part
It’s the main reason I write this blog (not to hear myself talk, as my bride often suggests). My books are prominent here, to be sure … but you’re only here because you’re interested in things I’ve said about writing and indie-publishing. I hope the things I bring to the table help you with your efforts … and, oh, by the way, I write fiction.

It really is that simple … and hard. It takes time, and you have to be genuine. But ask anyone who is successful and he (or she) will tell you building a community that both cares and invests in one another far outweighs other tactics.

If someone leaves you a comment, they should be able to rest assured you’ll respond to it, with an answer that is both honest and helpful. Don’t pontificate. Be yourself, enjoy the people you get to know, and trust the rest will follow.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go get my questions ready for the conference in October.

Then I’m going to gather the things I’ll need for the book signing event I’ll be part of at Leon & Lulu in Clawson, on October 23, 2016. Hope to see you there.

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On November 19, 2016, I’ll be in attendance at the Readers Favorite award ceremony at the Regency Hotel in Miami.

On December 3, 2016, I’ll be signing books from 1:00-4:00 pm at the annual “Giving Season” event at the Orion Township Public Library (825 Joslyn Rd).

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My books have all garnered some terrific reviews and you can see the ones I have available by using the Amazon link below. Look for them. Better yet, buy one and read it. You just might like it.

buy now amazon

You’re invited to visit my web site, BROKEN GLASS, or
like my Book of Face page. You can find me on Goodreads, or follow
some of my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.
 
If you’ve written an interesting book too, consider submitting it to the Readers Favorite annual contest by using the banner link below.
What do you have to lose?

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Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.

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