What I Learned at Write Canada 2015 – Part 2: Indie Writer Continuing Class

The continuing class, Five Keys to Becoming a Successful Indie Author/Publisher with Linda Hall especially fascinated me since I began the process of publishing my own books this year. (My next book – Learn Twitter: 10 Intermediate Steps is launching July 15, 2015.)

Linda started out by describing different ways to get books published (Traditional, Independent, and Small Indie Presses) and shared a brief history of Indie publishing (e.g. Benjamin Franklin, 1732-1758, wrote and published Poor Richard’s Almanac). She also reviewed the reasons people decide to go the Indie publishing route:

  • Because I can’t get an agent or a traditional publishing deal
  • Because I want to be in control of my own business

  • Because I enjoy the challenge of being in business for myself

  • Because I want to write what I want to write

  • Traditional houses don’t publish my genre

  • My publisher closed its fiction line

  • I need flexible deadlines

  • As a speaker, I need books to sell at events (business card book)

“If you have 1,000 faithful fans, you can make a living as an Indie writer.” @WriterHall #Indies #quote #writer

Key #1 Pre-book Planning

Is pre-planning different for the Indie Author?

You have to do MORE pre-planning:

  • If fiction: Will it be a series? Length?
  • If nonfiction – Do you have a platform to share your work from? A blog or website?

TIPS:

  • Get involved with communities where your readers spend time
  • Make sure you have a website and blog

Key #2 Writing the book

Your book should be the absolute best book you can write

How many books should I publish in a year? As many as you can write well

Should I format as I write?

  • Only one space after a period
  • Don’t use tabs; use paragraph formatting
  • Use Times New Roman (Serif) (For overheads, use non-serif)
  • Paragraphs should be fairly short

Resources:

1. Why is everyone talking about Scrivener?

  • Trash doesn’t erase.
  • Character name generator
  • Snap Shot – copies your screen so that you can go back if you want.

2. Simple Note – an easy way to keep notes

3. How to format your novel for Kindle, Nook, the iBookstore, Smashwords, and CreateSpace…in One Afternoon (for Mac) by Ed Ditto

4. The ebook design and development guide by Paul Salvette

5. Gwen Hernandez – Scrivener course (NOTE: Registration is now open for classes in the fall of 2015.)

Key #3 – Editing

  • Read your piece out loud (Google Play Books reads out loud)
  • Find Beta readers – friends, family members, and readers who will give you honest feedback about your writing.
  • Get an outside editor!

The four types of editing:

1. Concept or Developmental

2. Substantive

3. Copy-editing

4. Proofreading

Key #4 – Covers and Finishing

Go to Amazon and search the genre to get ideas about the style of cover you want and what’s popular.

eBook covers are different than print book covers

3 step judging for covers:

  1. Can you read it from 10 feet
  2. Can your grandmother read it from 10 feet
  3. Title should be in top 1/3 of cover

Formats:

  • Amazon – mobi
  • Nook, Kobo, Smashwords and others – epub
  • CreateSpace – PDF

Styles (eBooks)

  • Full (left/right) justified
  • Indent or space between paragraphs
  • Fonts (Times New Roman, Arial, Geneva) eReaders often use their own fonts
  • Copyright, TOC, end stuff, front stuff, graphics

TIP: Draft2digital – Use instead of Smashwords

Styles (Print Books)

  • Full (left/right) justified
  • Indent all but first paragraph of new chapters
  • First letter or each first paragraph of each new chapter – larger and bolder
  • Fonts your choice (serif)
  • Copyright, TOC, end stuff, front stuff
  • Any graphics must be at least 300 dpi
  • No header or footer on first page of each new chapter or in end stuff or front stuff
  • Start on right side (odd numbered page)
  • Headers – odd numbered page is the title, even number is the author

Publishing

ISBNs are free in Canada – go to CISS

Turn your book into audio – acx.com (Only available in the U.S.)

Key #5 – Marketing 

The Indie Reviewers List (theindieview.com); DO NOT pay for reviews!

Do a Google search for the many sites which list bloggers and book reviewers.

More Information:

Linda gave me permission to share the link to a special page she set up for this class. Check it out at rikhall.com/Linda.

My two previous posts about Write Canada were: 5 Things I appreciated about Write Canada  and the Magazine Editor Panel.


5 Things I Appreciated About Write Canada 2015

Write Canada 2015 Art
Picture taken at Write Canada 2015 by Stephanie Nickel

I just returned home on Sunday from Toronto, where I attended Write Canada 2015. Over the next few weeks I plan to share some of the teaching and tips I picked up while I was there, but today I’ll share an overview.

1. Focus

Although Write Canada is a writing conference and the focus is on writing, the overarching focus is on God, because attendees are Christian writers. During the event, we were all challenged to consider questions such as:

  • How has God gifted you, and what are you doing with that gift?
  • Are you in God’s Word?
  • Are you interpreting God’s Word accurately?
  • How are you using your writing to shine God’s light on issues?
  • Are you giving glory to God for successes?

 

2. Workshops

I always find it a challenge to pick workshops when I attend writing conferences, because there are so many helpful sessions available. (That’s why I ordered ALL the sessions that were recorded!) This year I decided to focus on self-publishing and writing shorter pieces. The sessions I attended were:

  • Book Launches that Sizzle Panel
  • Magazine Editor Panel
  • Five Keys to Becoming a Successful Indie Author/Publisher with Linda Hall
  • Marketing Best Practices with Mark Lefebvre
  • Going Global – Write Locally & Sell Globally with Mark Lefebvre
  • Turning Personal Experience into a Devotional Message with Susan King
  • The Game of Publishing with Warren Benson

 

3. Networking

Talking with Susan King and Brenda Wood. Photo by Belinda Cater Burston
Talking with Susan King and Brenda Wood. Photo by Belinda Cater Burston

Writing conferences provide a unique opportunity for authors to meet and interact with other authors, agents, editors, and publishers. I enjoyed the opportunity to have conversations with:

Faculty members at Write Canada graciously make themselves available to have conversations, answer questions, listen to queries, and share their knowledge and expertise.

Deborah Ironstand and James Peters. Photo by Belinda Cater Burston
Deborah Ironstand and James Peters. Photo by Belinda Cater Burston

A special opportunity to network took place Saturday during lunch in a discussion regarding Aboriginal Christian writing in Canada. Dorene Meyer invited James Peters and Deborah Ironstand to join her on a panel. Dorene started the discussion by apologizing for the way Canadians have treated First Nations people. James and Deborah acknowledged the apology and offered forgiveness. Then Deborah read “The Sweet Presence,” a story published in Northern Writers Volume 5. She wept as she read. This is the first opportunity she’s ever had to read her story publicly. James shared his testimony of how God saved him. He said he wants to share his story in schools and churches so that young people don’t have to live through what he did. Doreen invited anyone who would be interested in publishing and promoting Aboriginal Christian writers to contact her. I’m excited to see where this will lead.

4. Friendships

Everything is better when you have friends! I enjoyed hugging and chatting with many of my Christian writing friends over the weekend. Write Canada provided many opportunities to hear about challenges and victories we’ve experienced and to celebrate excellence in writing. (The Word Awards Gala took place Saturday evening, immediately following the Write Canada conference.) Meeting face-to-face with friends I’ve met only through social media made it even better. I also enjoyed meeting people I’d never met before and adding them to my circle of friends.

5. Photography

Organizers of Write Canada arranged to have Stephen G. Woo, a professional photographer, available to take pictures on an appointment basis. He made the shoot fun, and when he found out I’ve written a book about Twitter, he customized the photos around that. I expected to have one or maybe two pictures to choose from, but he sent me twenty-one! Here are some of my favourites.

Pictures he took at The Word Awards Gala are available to view on Facebook.

As you can tell, Write Canada is a great event. I’m thankful God made a way for me to attend. Tell us about your favourite conference to attend!

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save


Putting your best foot forward: preparing for a writers’ conference

Girl taking a tentative step forward

I’m preparing to attend Write Canada in Guelph, ON from June 12-14. This morning I jotted down items on my “to do” list under “Prepare for Write Canada”. Here are a few things I’m preparing with an explanation of why and how:

  1. Business cardIt’s a good idea to have a business card that you can hand out to other writers, interested agents, or editors you meet. That way they have your contact information and can easily follow up with you. Check out sample business cards on the Tinyprints site if you want some creative ideas.
  2. One Sheet – a basic overview of who you are and what you do. Some people will want more information about you than a business card provides, so a one sheet is a good thing to have with you. The Writer’s Alley gives a good overview of a one sheet and examples for you to see. Jennifer Beever shares some helpful do’s and don’ts from a marketing perspective.
  3. 30-second elevator pitch – This is a 50-70 word description of a book or magazine article idea you want to pitch to an editor. Check out “What’s an Elevator Pitch for Your Book?” for a good overview and links to examples.
  4. Unpublished work for Blue Pencil Review – Holly Case explains, “Back when copy-proofs were still manually cut, pasted, and photographed before printing, a blue pencil was the instrument of choice for editors because blue was not visible when photographed. The editorial intervention was invisible by design.” Some conferences offer an opportunity for you to meet with an advanced writer or editor who will read a sample of your work and offer unbiased suggestions.
  5. 5 minute piece to read – Participating in a reading session allows you to give people a sample of your writing. Make sure you select a reading that is able to stand on its own, but also leaves the reader wanting more.
  6. Published books – Often there is a bookstore at the conference where you’re able to leave your books on consignment. There is usually a fee associated with this service (e.g. at Write Canada the bookstore keeps 25% of the sale price).

Do you have other suggestions to help writers who are preparing for a conference? It’s time for me to get down to work. Maybe I’ll see you at Write Canada.