Closing the Loop: Thoughts from Writer Conference Season

by | Sep 12, 2016

On Saturday I was lucky enough to return to the San Francisco Writing for Change Conference. This is one of my favorite writer events of the year. It’s limited to 100 attendees, and we spend the entire day in the same room together which creates a real feeling of community.

Also, all these writers, no matter what kinds of books they publish, are out to create a change in the world. Political, moral, societal, economic, any kind of change, and that means that what they are writing comes from the heart. I like being in that company.

Mike Larsen, who runs the conference as well as the San Francisco Writers Conference, always plans time for “ask the pro” sessions at the end of the day, and they are popular.

Okay, I’m not going to tell you that I’m as popular as even the newest associate agent, because I’m not. But people planning to self-publish seek me out, along with entrepreneurs with new ideas for apps or services to help writers.

Over and over again at these sessions I ask a variation of the same question to the author sitting in front of me: What about your audience, how is that part of your plans?

Or: What leads you to believe people will want this?

Mostly I get a blank look.

That’s because authors at that point are deep into the maze of self-publishing and the 1,001 new things you all of a sudden think you have to learn.

But for authors and publishers to succeed, they have to close the loop. It’s not enough to create the best book you can, although that’s the entry ticket. The other half of the loop is the readers to receive the book you’re about to give to the world.

At the conference, on the “Traditional vs Self-Publishing Options” panel, I pointed out that publishing your own books is hard, harder than you think it’s going to be, and it can erode your patience, your pocketbook, and the persistence of your vision.

So why don’t more authors pay attention to building an audience for their work before rushing to publish? I don’t know.

But I do know I’m going to hear this same story over and over again this week.

Heading to the AuthorU Extravaganza in Denver, Colorado

On Wednesday I’ll head off to this 3-day publishing event put together by the indefatigable Judith Briles, who is also a Contributing Writer on the blog.

You can still get a ticket to come to Denver, and if you have the time I would encourage it. There’s more one-on-one time at this event than at any other publishing or writers conference I’ve been to.

For three days I’ll be giving sessions and meeting with authors. That’s what I love to do, so I’m really looking forward to it.

But I also know I’m going to hear this same story over and over again: great plans, beautiful books, but where are the readers? Where’s the audience that’s just waiting with great expectation for that book you’re working on?

This is an intrinsic part of making the transition from being a writer, to an author, to a publisher.

Have some time off this week? Come join me in Denver and we can pull up a chair in the lobby of the hotel and talk about it.

10 Reasons to Cancel EVERYTHING and go to the AuthorU Extravaganza (starts Thursday)

10. Meet 30 amazing Exhibitors who excel in book publishing and creating books that you never regret.

9. Mingle with 25 Publishing Professionals who will deliver workshops over 3 days

8. Drink “Marketing Book Juice” galore!

7. Discover who the Winners of the Draft to Dream Book Competition are.

6. Get Free Stuff … Everyone gets to participate in the Great Take-Away!

5. Vino!—48 bottles will drive home with the winner of the Wall of Wine.

4. The Author Shark Tank is back – are you ready to dive in?

3. Pick their Brains—our Publishing Pros aren’t swoopers … they hang out and stay around – grab a One-on-One with them.

2. Awesome Author Networking … Awesome Ideas … Awesome Friday Night Entertainment.

1. You want to leave your book competition in the dust.”

My sessions are: “Where’s the (Blog) Traffic?” and “The Sideways Table of Contents and the Nonfiction Author.”

Info here: AuthorU Extravaganza

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