Well, this is awkward. When I realize I’ve screwed up I’d prefer to pretend it didn’t happen, put my hands in my pockets and see if it blows over. But sometimes there’s no way around it, so I might as well go straight forward and own up.
Tonight I was on a panel discussing self-publishing in San Francisco at the Commonwealth Club. This was the second part of a three-week series exploring different aspects of self-publishing. Of course, the dates for this event were set months ago. I remember that I was going to blog about it, but apparently I simply forgot. Missed it. Whiffed.
I love these educational initiatives and the outreach to people who are just starting to think about publishing. But somehow that blog post never got written. So I’m going to try to make up for it a little today.
Tutorials from the Trenches
The first session was held last week, on April 6. The topic was “Self-Publishing: Options, Directions and Resources.” The panel discussion was moderated by my friend Paula Hendricks, past president of BAIPA. On the panel were Lisa Alpine, Peter Beren, and Carla King, all professionals.
Tonight’s session was centered around “The Nuts and Bolts of Making Books.” Paula again moderated and the panel included Lee Foster, a BAIPA member and author who has published two of his books as apps for the iPhone and iPad, as well as V. Vale, the publisher of RE/Search Publications and founder of the zine Search and Destroy, about the early punk subculture. His books are idiosyncratic and heavily illustrated. I rounded off the panel as the “print guy.”
A pretty good-sized crowd showed up and I think we managed to communicate some of the vast array of options facing authors who want to publish their own books. About 50 people picked up copies of The Self-Publisher’s Quick Guide to Copyright, a collection of blog posts I put together. That could be a sign a lot of people are thinking of self-publishing. However, people also like freebies, so time will tell.
One More to Come
Here’s the good news. There’s one more session yet to come. Next Monday, April 19, will be the final session, “Book Sales and Marketing” (follow the link for ticket information). Since actually marketing and selling books is the most important task of any self-publishing author, this could be incredibly useful. Here’s the panel:
- Scott James, Columnist, The New York Times; Author (aka Kemble Scott), SoMa, The Sower
- Elizabeth Block, Author, A gesture Through Time; Recipient, the Christopher Isherwood Foundation Fiction Fellowship
- Teresa LeYung Ryan, Author, Love Made of Heart, Build Your Name, Beat the Game: Be Happily Published
And it will once again be moderated by Paula Hendricks. Here’s what they will talk about:
Bookstores are closing; newspaper book reviews are almost gone; and online options can be overwhelming. What’s an author or publisher to do? Join the discussion with successful authors, who will share their stories of what has worked for them—from building relationships with independent bookstore buyers and distributors to using technology and social media in new ways; from digging into niche markets to selling direction to their fan base.
If you’re thinking about self-publishing, or if you’ve already published a book and need a recharge to kick your marketing into a higher gear, you should think about going. The cost is $20 (free to members of the Commonwealth Club) and you get to talk one-on-one with the speakers after the panel discussion. There’s also plenty of time for questions at the end.
It’s also a way to meet other “book people” and experience some of the vitality and excitement that runs through the world of independent publishing right now. Programs like this one at the Commonwealth Club will help many people make the leap into publishing. And I’m really proud to be part of it.
Takeaway: Educational programs like the self-publishing series at the Commonwealth Club are a great way to get up-to-date information on what’s happening in this fast-changing field.