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Saturday, June 08, 2013

Digital Publishing Workshop

Among the fun and amazing things I got to do this past week.  (Such as participate in the act of awarding Alice Munro a CBA Libris Lifetime Achievement Award, hand the CBA Libris Author of the Year Award to Terry Fallis and Fiction Book of the Year Award to Will Ferguson), I ran a workshop for the Stratford Authors on digital self-publishing.

I arrived in plenty of time to set up, and, since Barnaby was in the car with me, I placed him front-row centre.  (My skeleton Barnaby was part of the "author branding" segment of the talk - in which I explain how I use Barnaby at book signings, etc, to ensure people immediately "get it" that I write horror/Twilight Zone style fiction - an easy way to quickly help people decide if it's worth their time coming to my author table, etc.  IE, attracting my target audience along with creating a fun ice-breaker for people to crack jokes about my skinny friend)


This was the first time I had done a workshop where I live published a book on Kobo Writing Life in front of the audience (walking them through the setup of my book in WORD format, the upload process, how I then download the converted ePub file and then use Sigil to manually polish it up, adjust the metadata and then re-upload a better version of the ePub).  It was fun to walk through each of the steps and show them the time and care it takes to

I published a short story I had previously published, BTW, demonstrating that an eBook doesn't have to be a full length novel sized work but can be, in fact whatever length (longer or shorter) that you want. The key is making sure the potential buyer is made aware of that through a solid synopsis/description so they don't feel tricked.


Here are some of the highlights of tips from my presentation:

  • The Hard Truth:  This is a business. If you want to self-publish, you need to assume all of the responsibilities that the publisher normally takes on, and it is no small feat. You need to ensure all the elements of editorial, design, metadata, art, layout, listing, marketing are completed.
  • The Three P's of Self-Publishing Success:  Practice, Patience and Persistence. Keep writing, write every day, re-write, edit, write again. Then some more.  And, just in the same way that submitting your work to agents and publishers takes a lot of time and effort, so to does becoming successful in self-publishing take a lot of hard work and patience. If you don't see results right away, maintain Persistence. Believe in yourself, never give up and focus on writing your next great book  (this advice, of course, also applies to traditional publishing)
  • Know Your Audience.  Your book is not for everybody. If you believe that you are deceiving yourself.  You need to spend time figuring out who your ideal/target audience is, and don't waste any marketing efforts trying to blast your marketing efforts everywhere. The worst thing you can do is sell (or try to sell) your book to the wrong reader. If they buy it, you get one sale, but they won't like it, and it'll be a negative experience - what's the long-term benefit there?
  • People DO Judge a Book By Its Cover.  A great cover, targeted for your ideal audience, can help you gain attention and sales.  A poor cover will send people running away (screaming, laughing, or some combination of both) and do more harm than good. Don't take short-cuts. If you don't have a good design eye (and it is hard to be objective), you need a cover designer.  Here's one of the articles we have posted on the Kobo Writing Life blog regarding cover design.  This one helps with what to look for in a book cover designer.
  • Think of price as a VERB not a NOUN.  Price deliberately, price responsibly. And don't paint all your titles with the same "price brush" -- be prepared to react to the markets -- and the markets are different and unique and following their own trends, so be prepared to research and understand what price points work in various categories in various global territories and create a strategy incorporating that.  More great pricing advice appears HERE.

Those are five generic tips that were mixed in along with the details of the step by step process for digital self-publishing. I hope that you found them helpful.

I know Barnaby did.  (At least, he never stopped smiling at me from the front row the entire time, so I'm reading a bit into that)


3 comments:

Courtney Cooper said...

Barnaby is the coolest marketing tool ever! That's a great post, I'm now trying to self-publish and was curious about reading real people's reviews on this way of publishing. This article was helpful when I tried to figure out my way of publishing
http://www.askwiki.net/How-to-Publish-a-Book
However, I needed more information about self-publishing in particular, so thank you for sharing your experience because it all really looks like a dark forest for me now.

Mark Leslie said...

Thanks, Courtney.

You might want to also check out the following websites for even more great info on self-publishing...

http://www.thecreativepenn.com/

http://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/

Both Joanna and David offer all kinds of amazing advice for authors about publishing, writing and self-publishing.

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