I went to my first sci-fi/fantasy convention this weekend and it was just awesome. I met so many wackadoodles and my first thought once I got past the shock was, “I’ve found my tribe! Hello my fellow weirdos.” I shouldn’t have been surprised since I’m friends/acquaintances with a good chunk of Baen or Baen related indie authors through my bf, the unofficial photographer of this year’s Liberty Con 🙂
A lot of the panels on writing were stuff I already knew and have covered or will cover in posts on writing, and the joke panel on Social Justice for the Undead was so freaking funny I was rolling on the floor, but the panels on marketing were invaluable.
I’m just going to run through some bullet points I took down from the panels. Most (if not all) of these are meant for indie authors. If there are any mistakes, they are mine and mine alone and shouldn’t be attributed to the panelists.
1. Set up an actual business as a small publishing house. It looks more professional to say published by *name* publishing than published by *author’s name.*
2. Set up a bank account for that publishing house and run everything to do with the business through there, makes it easier to keep track of tax stuff.
3. Make sure to transfer your IP rights in the story to your publishing house. It is just you as a business basically, but it is a separate legal entity from yourself.
4. Make a blog about stuff besides just writing to build your author platform. You want potential readers, not just other writers reading it (I obviously need to do more legal and science related posts to get my blog to be less writing fixated 🙂
5. Be able to commit to a full series, so readers know you’ll finish out the story and not let it die part way through. Once you get around 4 books out is when sales spike because readers will see it’s a series and they’ll get a few if they like one.
6. Before you put out your first book, ID your market, know who they are and what their expectations for that genre are.
7. When you have a book coming out, ask your beta readers to put up honest reviews on Amazon that first day. Reviews, even bad ones, can help sell the book because it gives people an idea what it’s about outside of what the blurb says, and again, makes it look professional.
8. When putting together a cover, do you research on artists! It doesn’t have to be expensive to be professional and good. Find an artist (or get art from a royalty free site) and get someone to do the layout, those are two different things.
9. Good means the cover fits into the genre, it gives the genre and subgenre cues. To figure these out for your genre, go to Amazon and study the top 100 in your book’s subgenre. What do they have in common and what catches your eye?
10. Research what fonts and layouts are used for ebooks and paper books for your genre.
11. The back of the book paragraph (I’ve heard it called back copy or blurb) isn’t to summarize the story, it’s a marketing tool to make someone want to read the story. Read the backs of the 100 top books in your genre to figure out what catches your eye.
12. Figure out what Typography is used in your genre, and use it or one similar enough, but make sure that typography isn’t under IP protection! (I didn’t know this one and I’m a lawyer, so look out.)
13. Make a mailing list early on in your career so you have people tell you they want to hear when you put a book out. Do not abuse this mailing list by spamming, only send out important emails like announcing a new book. (As soon as I figure out how to do a mailing list, I’ll tell you all 🙂
And just because it was fun, I threw in a pic of playing on a game show Williamson’s vs. Hoyts. We got our asses kicked, but that game was rigged. Author Mad Mike, aka Mike Williamson was funny enough to make up for us losing 🙂