Grace Allison Blair, author of the award-winning Einstein’s Compass, and I attended Publisher Weekly’s BookLife Indie Author Forum, a one-day virtual conference on many topics of importance to Indie authors (check out Grace’s review for topics). It is their first year for this particular conference, but I doubt the last. Attendees entered through the lobby, established a personal profile to share with other attendees, and could arrange in advance to have their books hosted in the Library. Before entering the auditorium (where presentations occurred), attendees could chat with others in the Networking Lounge (though it was hard to find particular people there). All the tech stuff went smoothly and the few glitches I encountered were on my part, not theirs.
I’ll start with Grace’s overview because hers is much more thorough than mine!
I took the Booklife Indie Author Forum to keep up to date with the current trends in publishing. BookLife a subsidiary of Publisher’s Weekly is a good place for indie authors to learn their trade. The cost of the one day on-line workshop was $129.00. A bargain to learn:
How Self-Publishing Can Work For You
Reading a Book By It’s Cover
Amazon’s Best Practices
Advice from Breakout Session 1: Beyond Amazon – How does format influence your distribution?
Book Awards Are They Necessary?
How To Choose the Right Categories on Amazon
How To Get Into Libraries
The live workshops offered experts like Jane Friedman. I loved the chats where you could ask questions of the panel.
When I entered a chat I wrote my name and the name of my book and wrote my book and that it has won ten book awards including the BookLife Indie Author Project for Texas. In the chat people asked for my contact information to learn more of how I received the book awards.
As an author I was invited to post my book free in the BookLife bookstore. Since I had won the BookLife Indie Author Project for Texas [congratulations, Grace!] I was invited to post my book in the BookLife Premium listing, free. As an attendee my registration included the opportunity to have my book featured in a second place, BookLife Indie Author Forum’s New Title Showcase. Powered by Combined Book Exhibit, this special virtual exhibit will be highlighted during the conference in its own room and will be made available on both the BookLife and Combined Book Exhibit websites through 2022. I was able to download the BookLife Premium Listing of books.
There was a virtual free book totebag where the sponsors offered free stuff.
There was a virtual networking room. In the room you could see who was there and chat or use the Zoom feature to talk face to face. I tried to find Jacqui but we just missed each other.
There were workshops I could not attend because of a conflict where I was in another workshop. So I look forward to receiving the recording so I can go through all the workshops and glean more information.
This was BookLife’s first time they offered on-line seminar for indie authors. Next year will get even better.
There aren’t a lot of virtual events that focus on Indie authors. When I heard about this one from Grace, I immediately signed up. Here is some of the interesting tidbits I got from the presentations:
- Indie authors write and publish to support their families. Yes, they love writing, but the driving force is to pay the bills, not be the somewhat apocryphal ‘starving artist’ image of a writer.
- One presenter said (I’ll paraphrase) that no traditional publisher could offer her enough money or benefits to switch from Indie to trad publishing.
- Indie covers may be better (more timely, more relevant) than trad because Indies publish quickly. Trad takes a year (or more). What is appealing in a cover changes dramatically for some genres in that period of time.
- Your newsletter verbiage should match the voice of your genre. For example, if you write humorously, your newsletter should reflect that.
- Great tips on creating book covers that include images and font and layout that fits your audience and genre. I love that they provided before-after examples.
- One presenter covered the ABCs of how libraries purchase books. That was fascinating but with too many details to list. It was more involved than I thought (and included preferred locations to find books) so if you are interested in selling to libraries, I’d recommend finding a how-to on that before beginning.
- They reviewed the pros and cons of paid reviews, ending with “Are they worth it?” I found this fascinating because I spent a lot of money with Kirkus early in my writing career on reviews and advertising and I’m not sure I got anything for it.
- On your social media platforms: Don’t ask people to buy your book; tell a story that makes them want to.
- Interestingly, no one talked about blogging. I think that was a miss. For me, it’s my predominant way to market/network.
- The idea that Indie publishing is a stigma is an outdated view. Um, we Indie authors know that!
- The conference was professionally delivered, via Zoom which most people have used so are comfortable with. The MC’s for each presentation were organized, energetic, and kept the conversation moving nicely.
- The presentations covered a wide variety of topics, many I don’t see often in other events.
Overall, a fun event, each presentation chock full of information, and offered at an affordable price. I will definitely attend next year’s event if I can.
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular prehistoric fiction saga, Man vs. Nature which explores seminal events in man’s evolution one trilogy at a time. She is also the author of the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers and Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. Her non-fiction includes over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, reviews as an Amazon Vine Voice, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Natural Selection, Spring 2022.