Writing Workshop Peggy DeKay & Cheri Powell

This past Saturday I went to an excellent writing workshop that not only equipped me with useful and empowering information, but also re-motivated me to work on my book. It was like creativity shock therapy to my muse!

The workshop was sponsored by the J. Camille Cultural Academy here in Louisville as their 13th Annual writer’s workshop. They had two speakers: Peggy DeKay, award-winning author, freelance writer, blogger, podcaster, publisher, and book coach; and Cheri Powell, author, publisher, entrepreneur, and world traveler. Both have generously given me permission to share the highlights of their presentations for the benefit of all writers everywhere! Thank you, Peggy and Cheri.

     Peggy DeKay: Methodology and Business of Self Publishing

Peggy DeKay most interested me because of a book she has written called Self Publishing for Virgins. This book walks you by the hand through self publishing your own book using createspace. If you plan on self publishing, you should definitely check it out. It’s a book I will be using to publish my first novel. Her presentation was chock full of useful and encouraging information for anyone who wants to make a living as a writer. Some helpful points I’d like to share are:

1) There has never been a better time in the history of the world to be an author than today. We have the technology to get our work to a worldwide audience within hours of publishing, and a market capable of supporting us as authors.

2) “Your book is not your baby, your book is your business” – Peggy DeKay. If you treat your book as your business, you’ll make sound business decisions and do well. If you treat it as your baby, you’ll make emotional decisions that won’t get you very far. As authors, we are artists, and want to release a product that’s a work of art, the outpouring of our souls. However, if you want to make a living, you have to make sure your work of art also conforms to the business requirements of your chosen market, or it won’t earn you an income.

3) Top 7 Rules to be a successful authorpreneur:
1 – Write a great book: doesn’t matter how good your marketing is if your book doesn’t provide a service to the reader, and does a great job of it.
2 – Hire a great editor: match your editor to your project. Make sure they are editing with your target reader in mind, and make sure they have experience editing your kind of book.
3 – Design a great cover: If you aren’t a graphic designer with a degree, bite the bullet and hire someone. The front cover is the first thing your reader will see, and you only have a few seconds to catch their interest. If they don’t like it, or if it doesn’t outshine the thousands of other covers around it, they won’t even bother opening your book.
4 – Write another great book: if you want to be a successful indie author, you have to keep producing a product for your audience, or they will lose interest.
5 – Stay in your genre: Stephen King became Stephen King because he kept writing horror/thrillers. Stay in your genre and build a platform there for the first 3-5 books. Don’t waste your time building a whole different platform for your second book, you’ll lose momentum.
6 – Write another great book.
7 – Write another great book.

4) E-books and audiobooks markets are growing, print markets are shrinking. Make sure you target those markets and don’t just publish in print.

5) Find your niche: niche markets sell better than anything else. If you have expertise or an experience that you can share with other people, write a book about it. You’ll make money. That ties in with….

6) USP – Unique Selling Position: ask yourself, how is my book different from everyone else’s? What sets my book apart, and what is unique about it that I can market to a specific set of readers? To answer those questions you also need to know…

7) Who is my reader? It is vital when writing and marketing your book to know EXACTLY who your target reader is. Make a reader profile, then do research online to find out where those kinds of readers shop, where they have a presence online, etc. One free analytic website is www.alexa.com and there are paid sites as well.

8) Make a home for yourself on the internet: purchase a domain and set up a professional web page with everything about you as an author and your books as a product. It can also include a blog. Make this website your hub, and link everything else you do online to it. Be involved in social media, but don’t waste your time trying to do everything on all sites. Pick a few and focus on them.

Thank you SO much Peggy for doing your presentation for us, it was very inspirational and gave me hope that I can actually make a living as an author! Definitely go check out Peggy at her website www.tbowt.com or www.peggydekay.com, she has a really helpful blog, podcasts, and tons of other useful resources for authors.

    Cheri Powell: How to Successfully Market your Book Online

Cheri Powell, author of Seven Tips to Make the Most of the Camino de Santiago, a guide to walking the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route in northern Spain, shared her tips and tricks to successfully marketing your book online. She gave us A LOT of awesomely useful links, which I don’t have room for here, but I will share the ones I found most helpful (If you want an electronic copy of her presentation with links, email her at Camino_Cheri@yahoo.com to ask about it).

1) When you publish your book online and make it available on Amazon (the biggest bookstore on or offline in the world), you will have to choose five metatags (keywords) to attach to your book that will help people find it when searching the web. Pick wisely. Use single words, as opposed to phrases and try to make them as unique to your book, while still relevant, as possible. For help and great ideas about marketing online check out this website (they have paid services as well as free advice)

2) When your book is first listed on Amazon, it will probably be buried deep on page 20 (or so) when someone searches for your metatags. The way your book moves up in the search, is that the search engine tracks activity on your book listing page. That is basically how many people are going to it and clicking on the links. You can help the system along by going daily to amazon (don’t log in) doing a search for your keywords (NOT the book title or author name, only your metatag keywords), then scrolling through the pages until you find your book, and clicking on your listing. Then click around on your page a little. When you do this every day, or even several times a day, and get your friends and family to do it too (*winks*) it will make your book much more visible on Amazon.

3) The number of sales your book makes on amazon determines its ranking (an important factor). If you find your ranking slipping on a bad month, you can purchase your own book from amazon, write the expense off as advertising, and then give away or sell those books at events, book fairs, book signings, etc.

4) Make a presence for yourself online. Not just a website/blog and social media. You should be involved in writer and reader communities online as well so that you can know and be known. Set up profiles and use websites such as: goodreads, librarything, writerscafe, thenextbigwriter, and autocrit.

Thank you Cheri so much for doing your presentation and sharing all these tips with us! Definitely check out Cheri’s website and her publishing services to learn more.

Sorry this post has been rather long, but there was so much great information to share! And I only posted about a fifth of what was taught. Anybody who is writing or wants to write should always seek out writing workshops and events to go to. Don’t stay isolated. Find other writers, get advice, share experiences, and be the better for it.

As for news, I have two exciting events coming up:

First, CRT’s  “Christmas Greetings” anthology, in which my second short story “The Last Christmas” will be published, comes out Sept 25th. I’ll be picking up a few hard copies, so you can get one from me, or it will also be available on Amazon.

Second, the end of September is my deadline to finish Part I (first half) of my urban fantasy novel, and I’m so excited! This novel has been my dream since 2008, and I’m finally on the right track to get it finished. I don’t know what yet, but I’m going to plan something special. Perhaps a post revealing the main characters and a short story about their past. I also plan on treating myself to some writing free relaxation time. Who knows what shenanigans will ensue ;).

Thanks for reading. I’d love to know what you thought of this post. Please feel free to comment and share what writing workshops you’ve been to that have been especially helpful.

Gizmo has discovered the joys of playing in a cloth, mesh laundry basket. That is, until her claws get stuck and I have to go rescue her.

Basket discovered

Basket discovered

Play begins

Play begins

Claws caught, rescue required

Claws caught, rescue required