Meeting Recap

Meeting RecapSix members attended last night’s meeting, gathering in the warm library on a cold winter’s night. We opened up the evening with a discussion on gender swapping. Diane had written a blog post about this earlier in the week. It was inspired by a post by Speculating Canada. She used the first chapter of a novella—Fowl Summer Nights—and swapped out every character: males became females and vice versa.

This exercise was meant to reveal stereotyping of characters based on sex. If you haven’t tried it, take a few minutes and read your main character as the opposite sex. The results may surprise you.

Interestingly enough Art had done the exact same thing with his current work in progress. His story originally had two male detectives in leading roles, but when a friend asked what sex they were, he considered the idea of making one female. Then he acted upon it.

This led to a discussion was about readers. What sex are they? And which ones write more books? Shebooks was brought into the conversation. It’s a new publishing company owned and operated only by women, and they publish work written only by women. Their site shared these startling statistics:

  • 70 percent of eBook buyers are women
  • 2/3 of magazine subscribers are women
  • 27 out of 34 stories on the digital publishing platform Atavist are by men
  • 11 of the 11 bylines on last week’s (2nd week of January 2014?) were for men

(These statistics were found here: OZY

Can you see the lop-sidedness? Do you read books written more by men or by women?

HOWEVER: Looking at this week’s list (January 26, 2014: http://www.nytimes.com/best-sellers-books/overview.html), the stats all depend on which category you’re reading. For example, if it’s Combined Print & eBook Fiction, the top four are written by women. The fifth place is John Grisham. All of the top five in Combined Print & eBook Nonfiction are by men.Ships - 5x5

Moving into Hardcover Fiction, the top three were written by women, while men occupied spots number four and five. Paperback Trade Fiction has the first two spots and the fourth filled by women. Men occupy spots three and five. In Paperback Mass-Market Fiction, women hold numbers one, three and five spots. In eBook fiction, women hold numbers one, two and three spots.

So…all of this would tell me women aren’t doing too bad when it comes to hitting New York’s list (which has no bearing on many of us and doesn’t mean a whole lot considering what publishers do behind closed doors to get authors on that list). This makes one wonder if women writers are really being shunned by publishers.

Next up at the meeting we talked about the CreateSpace contest: the seventh annual Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA). The grand prize is a publishing contract with an advance of $50,000. To enter, writers must first submit their Pitch. That’s basically the blurb on the back of your book. You have a maximum of 300 words to hook the judges into advancing to the next stage. Only 400 entries are chosen to advance.

This provided an opportunity for the group to discuss that all-important back cover blurb, and create the assignment for February’s meeting. Here it is: Write a blurb for a book you’ve already written, currently are writing or will write. Or you can write a blurb about a book you never intend to write. Writing a blurb for a current work would be more beneficial since you’ll be able to use it. But it’s up to you. Bring your best blurb to next month’s meeting.

Marketing was also on the table at the meeting. We discussed David Gaughran’s blog post If you don’t enjoy marketing you’re doing something wrong , and his tips for what was successful and what was unsuccessful in his experience. I suggest reading the post to get the full story, but in general, David’s experience has taught him things that didn’t really work when it came to marketing, or they took up too much time.

Here are a few things that made that list (for the full list, check out David’s blog post):

  • Hanging out on Goodreads
  • Tweeting buy links
  • Blog tours
  • Guest posts
  • Interviews
  • Platform building

Guest posts and interviews are one of those things that may or may not help. Many writers enjoy interviews because they introduce them to a new audience. And guest posts aren’t that time-consuming if you’re already writing a post for your blog. It’s easy to write one for another blog, and on the day you usually post, simply direct traffic to the guest post. Both the interview and guest post introduce writers to new readers.

Building a platform doesn’t have to take up your entire day. It is the little things like an interview here, a blog post there that builds a platform. As they say, Venice wasn’t built in a day, and neither should your platform be constructed so quickly.

The items that made the top of David’s list, things that in his experience proved helpful were (for the full list, read David’s post):

  • Mailing lists
  • Cheap/free into to a series
  • Box sets

Bringing the group’s own experience into what proved successful, we reiterated that having your face plastered on the back of your book or your sales banner was very helpful. It immediately told the public that you wrote that book.

Writing, publishing and writing much more can also drive up book sales, but we wondered how successful that was for those who did it. So a little research in that area to see how book sales were going and what types of reviews were being found for authors who did that was in order.

Ultimately it boiled down to writing a good story and educating readers on the fact that it exists. Certainly more will be discussed in the coming months about marketing. It’s the biggest hurdle many writers have when it comes to selling their stories.

Diane and Jayne shared their experience at the Christmas Festival of Crafts at Middle Musquodoboit this past December. Mindy also shared a table with them. The biggest obstacle they found was people attending the craft show didn’t know they wrote the books. They quickly improvised and made a sign, which attracted more attention, but for future events, a larger, more professional sign is planned.

More of what they learned can be found in Diane’s blog post: Things I Learned at a Craft Show.

The next meeting for the East Hants Writers group is February 18th. Same place, same time. Don’t forget your blurb.

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