Meeting Recap – Self-publishing

Meeting RecapThis meeting took place on January 5th. Five members were in attendance: Art, John, Donna, Diane and Barb.

During the meeting we discussed self-publishing in general, as well as the results of 2015 Smashwords Survey Reveals Insights to Help Authors Reach More Readers.

We paid particular attention on the following topics: preorders, giving away the first book in a series, the free book, the price that sells well and ones that don’t, length of books and categories that sell well.

Meeting Recap

Meeting RecapSix members and one guest attended the meeting: Lynn, Diane, Art, John (and daughter), Donna, and Emma.

We began by updating everyone on what writing accomplishments and activities we engaged in since our last meeting (October 6th).

Next on the agenda, we discussed goals and the importance of setting them.

Why Are Goals Important?

  1. They keep us focussed on the task.
  2. They keep reminding us the task needs to be done.
  3. Goals challenge us to do something by a particular date.
  4. Goals keep us accountable. In other words, if I say, “I’ll get this story written some time,” there’s no thought that I didn’t get it done because there was no set date. If I allow a personal deadline to pass without getting the story written, I can ask myself: Why did this happen? Do I really want to do this? If do want to do this, how can I make it happen?
  5. Goals allow us to see how much we’ve accomplished, giving us a boost to do more.
  6. Some people need goals to motivate them to do things.

Everyone wrote a goal on a piece of paper, put it in an envelope and sealed it. Diane gathered the envelopes to hand out at the next writers’ meeting.

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Meeting Recap

Meeting RecapFive members attended the self-publishing meeting: Lynn, Diane, Art, John, Donna and Phil.

We began the meeting by introducing ourselves because a new member was in attendance. We gave a brief summary of our self-publishing history and what we’d like to accomplish.

Diane gave a brief overview of what the group would discuss in the coming months. This included:

  • The focus of this group will be on the business of self-publishing only. Whether this is the first time or tenth.
  • Mini workshops on the steps of self-publishing. Members will provide these on the aspects of self-publishing they are familiar with.
  • Editing: Mini workshops and discussions of the many aspects of editing.
  • Step-by-step instructions on how to self-publish a book over the course of the year (to June).
  • Discussions will include topics such as copyright, ISBN, CIP, Access Copyright, library donations
  • Formatting the working manuscript as well as the finished product that goes into book form will be discussed.
  • Marketing: How do you sell your books? This will be an ongoing topic.
  • Print Costs: The wide-range of possibilities. What’s good? What’s bad?
  • Publishing the East Hants Writers’ Anthology.

We expanded the discussion on ISBN, CIP and Access Copyright. We also spoke about marketing and how it was difficult for a lone writer to sell their books. It was agreed a self-publishing co-op would be a good idea, but no plans were discussed on how this could come about.

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September Meeting Recap

Meeting RecapSeven members attended the meeting: Lynn, Diane, Art, Mindy, John, Donna and Emma.

We began the meeting by introducing ourselves because a new member was in attendance. We also shared our writing activities since the last meeting (June).

It was agreed upon to add a second meeting during the month to the group. The new night (the first Tuesday of the month) will focus on the business of self-publishing. Anyone who is interested in or who has self-published a book is welcome to attend.

The current meeting night (third Tuesday of the month) will concentrate on the craft of writing only. Discussions will focus around developing characters, plot, setting, dialogue and similar topics. We’ll also continue to critique a story per meeting.

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June Meeting Recap

Meeting RecapSeven writers attended the meeting: three regulars (Diane, John, Art) and four new members (Maureen, Donna, Stephen, Susan).

We began the meeting by introducing ourselves. We haven’t done this for a long time, and it was a good exercise for all of us. We shared where we were from, our writing history and current projects.

It turns out we are a diverse group of writers: traditionally published, untraditionally published, unpublished, fiction writers, nonfiction writers and poets. We are all in different stages of our writing lives.

We discussed writing in general, some of the expectations for a writers group and what we’d like to see take place during meetings. One suggestion was for meetings to begin with each member providing a report on the progress of their current work in progress. This is intended to keep us on task and accountable.

For the September meeting, please prepare a statement about your current writing project. You can include the title of your project, what it involves, what stage you are at and where the project is headed.

Diane suggested the possibility of two meetings per month: one specifically to discuss the craft of writing and one to discuss self-publishing and marketing. This would give each meeting a specific focus. It would also allow those not interested in self-publishing the option of not attending.

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Meeting Recap

Meeting RecapThree members attended last night’s meeting of the East Hants Writers Group. We discussed a veteran project that is currently being undertaken by Bruce MacDonald of Nova Scotia.

MacDonald’s website First World War Veterans of Guysborough County shares the following description of his project: The year 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the First World War. The purpose of this blog is to share the stories of the war’s Guysborough County veterans, while providing background information related to their experiences. I plan to publish the stories of the 131 Guysborough County veterans who died while serving with Canadian forces during or shortly after the war in a series of releases, from 2014 to 2018.

If anyone has a connection to these veterans and would like to help, contact Bruce MacDonald at brucefrancismacdonald@gmail.comGrant, John - Historic Guysborough

John Grant has written extensively on many aspects of Guysborough County in his book Historic Guysborough County (Nimbus), and he continues to research the history of Nova Scotia.

Diane is also no stranger to Guysborough County or the veterans who called it home. Her father was born and raised there, and he had served in the Second World War with three brothers and three cousins. She began the Veterans of Guysborough County project more than a decade ago, and after many years of research had to put it aside due to the mammoth size of the project and circumstances out of her control.

She still continues to work on a small aspect of the project. Updates on the status can be found at Roots to the Past.Sample 02

Next on the agenda was the discussion of publishing a collection of the groups’ short stories, poems and other writings. Each member could contribute two or more pieces to the publication. The three members in attendance agreed it would be a good idea. No timeframe was set.

Still, I encourage everyone to think of and possibly start something for the book. We’ll discuss this more at the February meeting.

Although Art was not in attendance, the three members discussed his writing submission. We agreed to bring the edited pieces to the February meeting.

Diane brought a sample of her writing and gave it to members to be discussed at the February meeting.

Posters like the one below will be going up around East Hants starting this week to gather more interest in the East Hants Writers Group. We hope to let other writers know that we exist.

Poster

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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Recap of Last Night’s Meeting

5x5 Writing Quote 01Mindy brought in copies of her new children’s picture book Sugar Bugs to show us how printing through Friesens and CreateSpace compared to each other.

Here’s how they compared:

  • Friesens had a more glossy cover and glossy pages, making the colours pop. Still, the less glossy pages created by CreateSpace were still high quality.
  • Friesnes font cover fonts were sharper than those on the CreateSpace cover.
  • Friesens first stitched the pages then perfect bound them, whereas CreateSpace perfect bound them.
  • Friesens book was slightly thicker than that printed by CreateSpace, which indicated the pages inside were thicker.

Overall, if we didn’t have the two books side-by-side to compare, we wouldn’t notice that CreateSpace was inferior. It’s a very good product, one worthy of sharing with readers. We, of course, are picky, and things we’d notice are things readers won’t give a hoot about.

At the meeting we also discussed John’s poems. They really should be in a book. Right, John…

The group also discussed the possibility of having an author’s day at the library or at some location in or near Elmsdale. The event would have authors have their own table where they could sign and sell copies of their book(s). Interested authors could give public readings. Karen King answered questions regarding this event, and said that this might be something the library would be interested in hosting.

More details are needed, including authors who will participate and the date.

The next Family Literacy Day takes place on January 27, 2014. This date is too soon to organise an author event. However, there may be other opportunities for authors when the library’s plans are finalised. To learn more about Family Literacy Day and see a map where Events are planned across Canada, check out the ABC Life Literacy website.

This was the final meeting of 2013. The next meeting (as you can see from the timer to the left) takes place January 21, 2014.

And just in case you missed this, Adam King works for Cartoon Conrad.

PS: Jayne, Mindy and Diane will be selling books at the Christmas Festival of Crafts, Musquodoboit Valley Education Centre, 12046  Highway 224, Middle Musquodoboit, NS, on Saturday December 7 (10 am to 4 pm) and Sunday December 8 (11 am to 4 pm).