Wild Writing Women: Lisa Alpine and Carla King at BAIPA

POSTED ON Jun 14, 2010

Joel Friedlander

Written by Joel Friedlander

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The monthly meeting of the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association (BAIPA) got underway with a spirited Q & A session lead by Pete Masterson. Meeting attendance has increased recently to the point that we no longer had space for the tables we usually use for the meetings. This month was no exception.

After the Q & A we had our “Introduction” section of the meeting during which each of the people in attendance is invited to take the cordless microphone and give a 30-second “elevator speech” about what they are doing or what progress they’ve made since last month. You can see author Kathleen Barry at the mic in the photo above.

After another break, we went into the last part of the meeting. Our speakers for this month were Lisa Alpine and Carla King, of Wild Writing Women fame. Both Lisa and Carla are self-published authors, avid travelers, and long-time travel writers.

Lisa and Carla on Self-Publishing

Lisa and Carla run frequent self-publishing seminars in San Francisco, an outgrowth of their Wild Writing Women workshops. They’ve published a useful self-publishing workbook to help guide their students through the many decisions needed to get a book into print. Their first instruction to their students is to create a mission statement that will guide them through the whole publishing process.

To give attendees an idea of the structure that they follow in the Workbook and their seminars, Lisa and Carla took turns reading through the 10 Steps to Self-Publishing Success:

  1. State your mission and goals
  2. Develop your platform and start promoting
  3. Take care of business
  4. Finish writing your book
  5. Design your book
  6. Get your book into the system
  7. Print your book
  8. Sell your book
  9. Distribute your book
  10. Ongoing promotion

Since this process cannot be covered in a 45-minute presentation, Lisa and Carla decided to concentrate on distribution options, since many new forms of distribution are coming into play over the next few months. In the presentation that followed, these two authors and teachers showed that they know how to keep an audience entertained and, rather than stick strictly to the distribution subject, threw out lots of information, tips, and encouragement for the 50 or 60 people in attendance.

lisa alpine, carla king, baipa, self-publishing

Lisa Alpine and Carla King listening to the Q & A session, BAIPA

These are the topics that stayed with me from their presentation:

  • Make sure to fill out the complete form for your book on Bowkerlink to make your book discoverable by searchers.
  • Self-published books only die when their authors abandon them, otherwise they go on forever.
  • Look for ways to create or join existing communities that will help your book’s sales.
  • Start 6 months before publication. Collect examples of book covers you like for tone and texture. Send these when the time is right to your cover designer.
  • Set up your book without an ISBN to test the concept. Print one copy at Lulu.com to see how the book cover design will translate into a physical book, then use your cover JPG for marketing.
  • Lisa has been building her platform for many years, and Carla has been promoting online for many years.
  • Your name is your brand, not your book. Establish a central location where your fans can find all your activities in one place.
  • Get to know the keywords for your niche. Carla gave the example of her own niche. She targets the keywords women’s adventure solo motorcycle travels Whether she is directly writing about her books or not, she uses these keywords.
  • Establish credibility within your field. Use forums to post in and make connections with others in your field.
  • Get all your social media linked together, so that your Twitter talks to your Facebook, and to LinkedIn, your blog and everywhere else you can link to. If you can’t figure out how to do it, get someone to help.
  • Learn to use Scribd.com, because it has both a community and a distribution model for books. Give away chapters to get people interested in your story.
  • Learn to use Twitter to connect with other people with similar interests who can help you spread your message. Carla mentioned that her sales grew fourfold when she started using Twitter.
  • Lisa also likes Scribd.com because the PDF shows exactly what the book looks like, and flips like a book. She uses it as a way to preview the book. It’s free and gives people a way to experience the book firsthand.
  • Lisa encouraged people to get into video. Create homemade videos without having to pay anyone or hire an editor. Use your video to read parts of your book, it helps support your brand and personalizes you.
  • Always get your own ISBN and don’t hesitate to try different distribution sites, as long as they are non-exclusive.
  • Make sure your printer can list you in the Ingram database so you can do presentations at stores if you want to.
  • More printers will be offering ebook conversion services, and you should consider doing an app also.
  • Createspace, LuLu and Wordclay are the three best do-it-yourself, low-cost or free author-service companies
  • Watch out for free ebook formatting services, because your book might not come out looking the way you expect.
  • Using social media can connect you to people in your niche, and you can Tweet messages with a link to your website or your Youtube channel.
  • There are many small distributors you can investigate. Find out their specialties and educate yourself about how distribution works.
  • Distributors can be a great solution because they will take care of payments, deal with Ingram, and you will have much less hassle

Although it seemed as though the discussion, with lots of questions coming from the audience, could have gone on for a few more hours, it was time to go. There was a lot to think about from the day’s activities, and a lot that the self-publishers and authors intent on promotion can work on in the coming weeks.

Next Month: Next month’s speaker at BAIPA will be self-published author and blogger Christy Pinheiro, who will talk about self-publishing with CreateSpace. Watch for the report.

Images: Joel Friedlander, TheBookDesigner.com

Joel Friedlander

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Joel Friedlander

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