The beauty of the San Francisco Writers Conference is that wherever you are in the journey, your needs will be met. Last year I was focused on writing and producing my book. That happened, thanks to SFWC, and this year I came away with two steno tablets full of ways to promote it.
Here are my top ten takeaways from this year’s conference:
1. You can hear all the seminars you missed because 111 are available individually or as a set at www.VWTapes.com.
2. Get your book into Costco and other major stores without going through the corporate office! Per the brilliant publicist Penny Sansevieri (www.amarketingexpert.com), most stores allow managers to plan four or five events a year without corporate permission; you bring your books on consignment.
3. Twitter is the number-one social media platform for writers. Hell must have frozen over, because I am loving it, thanks to Rusty Shelton. His how-to Twitter Playbook reads like a novel and teaches so enjoyably and well that your first tweet will make it look like you know what you’re doing. Contact Rusty at: email@example.com. And Frances Caballo’s books on social media are bibles.
4. Blogs-into-books is huge, and Joel Friedlander (www.TheBookDesigner.com) said that WordPress formats easily convert into book format.
5. Serialization is the next big thing, and authors are writing short ebooks (35 to 80 pages) which they publish individually and later combine into one large book, creating an advance market for the compiled edition.
6. Rejection is a good thing. It gets you closer to acceptance or diverts you onto a better path. John Lescroart’s account of his journey was jaw-dropping. Every presenter told tales of rejection that led to success.
7. Overcome “overwhelm.” Choose three “Aha!” techniques from the conference and work them. Then, when you’re up to speed on those, go through your notes for more. Tackle one social media platform at a time and get comfortable there. It can take a few months. Be patient with yourself.
8. Less to love about Facebook: an author with thousands of Likes on her business page (as distinguished from a personal page where you collect “friends”) lost 80 percent of her traffic when Facebook changed algorithms to further monetize its business pages. Here’s a thought: put everything on your personal page, mix it up (a lot), and privatize your really personal stuff.
9. The three most important words in publishing: platform, platform, platform! That resounded even more loudly this year than last. Traditional publishers insist that you bring more to the table than your book, and you know what happens to self-published books that aren’t promoted.
10. You can talk to a live ear at Amazon, at CreateSpace, and at Kindle! It takes a little digging, but if you answer a couple of questions in the Contact Us section (the itsy-bitsy type at the very bottom of the page), you’re prompted to select either a call-back or response via email. If you aren’t immediately put through (I know, amazing!), or they don’t call you back within a couple of minutes, call again. It works! And they are extremely helpful and patient.
None of this should scare you. If you have a question, ask Mike Larsen at firstname.lastname@example.org. I don’t worry about changes in publishing because next year’s conference will teach me how to deal with them.