The first online conference writing and publishing conference dedicated to women, the Women in Publishing Summit is a FREE 5-day online conference, featuring over 40 authors, publishers, editors, graphic artists, marketers, booksellers, mindset coaches, & more!
Held annually the first week of March we’ll end with a bang on International Women’s Day. The next event will be online March 2-8, 2020 but you must register to access. The Summit is a combination of guest expert interviews, panel discussions, tutorial presentations, and LIVE interviews, run completely online that you can enjoy from your phone, computer, or tablet.
For the 2020 conference and be sure to check out the following presentations if this is of interest to you:
E. Danielle Butler: The Importance of Representation in Publishing
Lois Strachan: Representation in books, and sharing your story to help others feel less marginalized
Desiree Peterkin Bell: Finding your voice, writing your narrative, and understanding other people’s perspective
We’re also putting together a live panel during the event week to get different perspectives and viewpoints so that we can discuss the issue more.
“I don’t think this is about silencing writer’s voices, but more about giving Mexican authors a voice of their own without having someone else take it from them and tell their stories. I am a Mexican immigrant, and it is frustrating to see how little representation we have in the publishing industry. It’s like me writing about someone else’s struggles without having any idea about their culture or the dynamics in their lives.“
Online Writing Events Can Be Fun Women In Publishing
BY Ronel Janse van Vuuren
Women In Publishing Online Conference
On the first of March, I did a bit of inbox cleaning. I have no idea why I always seem to have a full inbox despite checking messages, but it happens.
Anyhow, I found an invitation to the Women in Writing Summit that would take place from the fourth to the eighth of March. And it was free.
Do you realise how amazing it was to get an invite to a free writing conference?
Yes, it meant that I had to watch all the panels/interviews within 48 hours (I could pay extra to have unrestricted access, but that would have meant never watching them… I know myself well enough).
I cleared my schedule – which isn’t as easy as it sounds. I have various deadlines (writing and publishing wise) that I need to meet. But I did it.
Videos lasted between 30 and 60 minutes. I made copious notes. The things I learned… Wow! I am so lucky to be on a mailing list of someone who is so involved in the writing industry. I usually learn a lot from Belinda Griffin’s newsletters and she always adds value – but this was even more amazing than usual.
A quick overview of the week: Women In Publishing Online Conference
Day 1: The big picture of your book
I learned about Vas (virtual assistants) and how they can help you build your platform. Basically, they can do all the time-sucking admin work for you. And if they are trained to work with authors, they can do your social media and marketing stuff, too. The best place to get VAs are on LinkedIn (you can check out their work history, etc.) and as a referral from author friends on Facebook groups.
Personally, I’m too much of a control freak to get a VA. But when necessary, I do ask for help to manage big things like author events.
Another take-away from day 1 is that this is a business: so treat it like one. Also, hot button topics can make your novel a best-seller. (Check out James W Hall’s book “Hit Lit”.)
Day 2: Your path to publishing success
I listened to various conversations about mindset tools, tricks to co-authoring books (definitely not for me – I’m a lone wolf), how money is like manure (yeah, I changed the “alchemy between love and money” to a phrase from “Hello, Dolly!” that makes much more sense) and a great talk with Na’ima Robert about conquering fear.
“The constant companion on this journey is fear.”
But if you get past that by giving yourself permission to do something/to fail/to tell your story/whatever is keeping you back, fear won’t be so loud and outspoken and you’ll actually get something done.
Also: your uniqueness is your strength.
Day 3: Your tools for success.
If you want to know all about copyright and other legal matters for authors, just go and get Helen Sedwick’s book “Self-Publisher’s Legal Handbook”. I did 😉
My eyes glazed over during the talk about tax. But that was mainly because taxes in my country work differently than what the tax lady was talking about during the video. I have a tax consultant and I have a go-to group at the local SARS office (that’s our internal revenue office) who help me with all of my tax stuff and explain things that aren’t clear to me.
I enjoyed the talk with Rachel Marie Martin about how she went from nothing, to blogging and writing about her story and helping others (and now having financial success). What I got from that talk is that whether you do the work to meet your goal by a specific date or not, time will happen. Do you want to see that date and feel like you’ve accomplished something or do you say “next time”?
There was so much to learn on day three. Things like “keep ROI in mind” – whether that’s during publishing, marketing, or translations (which is apparently a good idea). Did you know that you can get an agent specifically to help you sell your already existing book in English to foreign markets so it can be translated and published there?
I loved the section on how to sell to libraries and bookstores as an indie author. I learned things about library systems that I didn’t know – especially for print books – and got great ideas for the future. Shh! It’s a secret 😉 You can check out newshelves.com for excellent advice in this area.
Also: “Writing is a craft. Publishing is a business.”
Day 4: Marketing, marketing and MORE marketing!
This was the day I was actually looking forward to. I feel that one can never know too much about different marketing techniques. Learn everything and then keep what works for you.
So, the scary part: if you want to be a fulltime author, you need a huge backlist. Something like 20 books can earn about $50k a year. Well, according to Angela J Ford and her Facebook buddies.
What I liked about Angela’s out of the box thinking: create a fan club with whom you interact weekly via video. Like reading a chapter a week and commenting on it (via video – recorded or live). I think this is for books in your genre and not specifically your own work.
Bookswag and giveaways came up a lot. (Would you wear a t-shirt with your favourite book’s character names? Something like “Team Klaus” or “Team Damon” – for “Vampire Diaries” fans. Or something from the book like “Mischief Managed” – for Harry Potter fans. Chime in below in the comments!)
Belinda Griffin’s presentation explained the difference between publishing and launching a book. basically, publishing a book is just getting it out into the world. Launching a book is making sure everyone knows that it is available. That includes ads, guest posts, podcast interviews, etc.
What I took away from that presentation: no matter how good your book is, without a proper launch to tell people your book exists, it won’t sell. The moment you stop telling people about your books, they stop selling.
You can learn so much from Belinda at smartauthorslab.com.
I loved Melissa Storm’s presentation. She talked about how you need pen names because even within a genre, the subgenres differ so much that you can lose fans. So if you write sweet romance, have one name and if you write steamy, write under another name. It’s lots of work, but your fans will appreciate it. (Sweet romance readers do not want all the steamy, sexy stuff from steamy romance novels, so keep those brands separate to not offend/disappoint readers.)
Also: make sure your covers communicate exactly what the book is about.
I liked the interview with Cindy Tyler of Vervanté. It was all about products you can sell alongside your books. Things like journals, planners, bookmarks, notecards, postcards, card decks, colouring books, and other print products. As I understand it, this company can print and ship everything for you – even if you sell directly from your website. And they can even send products in a “personal touch” way by wrapping books in tissue paper and adding thank you notes. I got quite a few ideas 😉
There was even a discussion on event planning to sell more books. You can go the traditional route of a bookstore and book signing thing. Or you can go for an experience event. Something like a wine-tasting evening that ties in with your book (say a romance on a wine estate) with the opportunity to talk about your book and possibly make a few sales.
Tips: figure out who your target audience is and what they would like and when they would be able to attend, plan even 3-6 months in advance, never leave people hungry and thirsty at your event – make sure there is enough to eat and drink! – and have a budget.
Day 5: Tools, resources, and organisations to help you in your journey.
Tools: Evernote, Grammarly, ProWritingAid, Bookbrush (like Canva but for authors), KDP Rocket (for keywords), Bookfunnel (to send ARCs).
Audiobooks is a great way to expand your audience. Diane Lasek from ListenUp Audio talked about all the different ways audiobooks work and how her company can help you.
“You want a professional production company to do the work for you.”
I absolutely agree with her. I liked what I heard during her presentation and I think it is totally worth it to look into her company. (I’m happy with Audioshelf, BTW, who does my audiobooks.)
I liked listening to the various women in publishing and learning from them. I laughed a lot. I learned a lot. And I even bought books written by the presenters. I’ll definitely attend again.
What about you? Have you ever attended a conference online/in person? Do you have an opinion about bookswag?
Women In Publishing Online Conference
Ronel Janse van Vuuren is the author of Young Adult and children’s fiction filled with mythology and folklore. Her dark fantasy stories can be read for free from selected online retailers. She won Fiction Writer of the Year 2016 – and again in 2018! – for her Afrikaans stories on INK: Skryf in Afrikaans. Her published works can be viewed on Goodreads.
Ronel can be found tweeting about writing and other things that interest her, arguing with her characters, researching folklore for her newest story or playing with her Rottweilers when she’s not actually writing.
We are adding an author a day to this meet the author series starting March 23-April 4th as a kick off to our launch. Grumpy Old Gods vol. 1 releasing March 30th. So be sure to check back and read about the other authors too. We have all kinds of surprised that show up randomly. Don’t miss them. You can read about the other authors HERE.
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