Sunday, September 29, 2013

Writer's Digest Self-Publishing Conference

As part of their west coast writer's conferences, the Writer's Digest Self-Publishing Conference was held Friday at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel in Century City.

The conference seemed sparsely attended to me.  It might have been due to it being a weekday, but whatever the reason, it was still a great event.  Very informative with some really great speakers.  I also liked that each session was only 50 minutes in length and that there was a moderator who kept everyone on schedule.  This way none of the sessions ran long or dragged.

Here are some things I learned about self-publishing at the conference:
  • You need a separate ISBN code for each format (hardcover, paperback, ebook).  In addition, some ebook publishers will retain ownership of the ISBN.  Although you retain the copyright, if you move to another publisher you will need a new ISBN.  ISBN codes can be purchased through Bowker, which also provides other services for self-published authors.
  • Even if you self-publish, at some point you will probably need the expertise of an agent for issues such as foreign markets and film rights.  Agents can also help you avoid scams.
  • Good literary agents today are more like literary managers.  It's not enough for them to just be flipping contracts.
  • When selecting an agent or publishing house, be sure they are experienced in your genre.  This seems obvious, but apparently there are people who will sign with anyone just to have an agent or publisher.
  • Self-publishing (or DIY, as guest Roy Carlisle calls it) is where traditional publishers are looking for new talent.  Agents also scope out self-published authors as potential clients.
  • Although there are only now five major traditional publishers, there are 40,000 independent presses in the U.S.  Check them out as an alternative to self-publishing.
  • Audio books are exploding.  Author Hugh Howey has said that he could live comfortably just on the revenue generated by his audio books.
  • The importance of blogging to connect and stay connected with your audience was mentioned several times, which I thought was interesting because it seems like a lot of people think blogging and/or having an author website is passe and has been replaced by Facebook.  Today's panelists did not agree with that idea.
The day went by really fast and I learned a ton of stuff about self-publishing.  The WD conferences were pretty pricey compared to other writing conferences I've gone to, but fortunately they gave the option of attending the self-publishing portion as a stand-alone, and it was worth it.  Highly recommend it if they have it again next year.

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