Writer’s conferences – are they worth it?

It doesn’t take much time in the Indie publishing world to be confronted by scads of folks wanting your business.  Cover art designers, book marketers, editors, small house Indie publishing services, tweeters, web designers.  And let’s not forget writer’s conferences.   Sheesh!   You could literally fritter away every penny you earned hawking your books on all of these services.   So, which ones do you need?   What’s the best value for your buck?

About a year ago, a writer’s conference truly for writers was born in Texas.   Lexicon.   I had no idea what to expect, but it was cheap and  fairly close to home.   It was all about Indie publishing and as a neophyte, I needed to learn as much as I could!   From the very first night at the Friday meet and greet, it was clear this was no ordinary conference.

As is customary, the organizer Mitch Haynes stood up to welcome and thank everyone for coming.   But then came the stunner!   He knocked people dead when he boldly proclaimed the following:    “If you’re a writer with a big ego, please pack up now and go home.  We don’t want you here.   So leave now.”   There was silence.    Who was this guy?  Writer’s with no egos?

Mitch Haynes writer

A man with a plan!

He continued,  “the reason?   No one wants to stand around and hear you talk about your book.    No one.   We know you have a book.  That is why you are here.”   Again, silence.   He had everyone’s attention.    “Now, just hear me out.   This conference is going to be different.  Just think about it.   Wouldn’t it be better to network and find out about other people’s books?    You’ll generate more magic by paying it foward for your fellow writers.   You pay it foward by talking about how great their books are. . . and you’ll be amazed.   Pretty soon, people will be paying it foward for you.   Go hawk at least 10 other people’s books here.    Then, watch the returns.”

It was a novel concept for many.   I’m convinced some still didn’t buy it.  But for those of us who did – wow.   He was right.   Over the next year, at least eight people from that conference reviewed my book.   Several people promoted it on their blogs.   I was asked to write some guest blogs.   People wrote guest blogs for me.    There was so  much valuable information learned at that conference.   How to maximize social media.   How to network and build your brand.    The nuts and bolts of the self pub Indie industry.   It was worth every penny.    Great connections.   Great networking.    And all because of the brainchild of one man willing to make a writer’s conference about the writer.   What a novel concept!   Pun definitely intended.

Here are some of the great writers I met:    Rich Weatherly      Brinda Carey       Evelyn M Byrne

Buck Steinke       JE Pendleton

So, if you are going to attend one writer’s conference this year – make it Lexicon 2013.    If you can’t mosey on down to Texas. . . start one of your own.   Just ask Mitch how!

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Do Amazon and Createspace rip us off? The update.

It’s has been several months since first publishing and republishing the story about Amazon and Createspace failing to report accurate sales.  It’s absolutely evil.   Here is what has been learned.

It's almost evil!

It’s almost evil!

Hundreds of authors contacted me regarding the inability to see their sales, especially from expanded distribution channels.   The story has been blogged and tweeted.  One author, on the grounds she stay anonymous, as her book was just picked up by one of the “Big Six” and she feared be dropped, told me that over 500 of her books sales never showed.AgeView Press was contacted by the Vice-President of Customer Service at Createspace, George  X ecr@createspace.com  who explained that he takes customer concerns very personally.  He pulled up my account for my latest book SOLO VIETNAM.   Now, I know for a fact that since it was published, April 2013 that at least ten friends have ordered it from Barnes and Noble and other retailers, which should have shown up on CreateSpace’s records as expanded distribution orders from Ingram.   Mr. X kindly shared with me that I had shown one sale from Expanded Distribution.  When asked where that was from?  He was not allowed to provide me that information.    Yet, he could see it from Ingram.

It get’s better.  This time, I chose not to go with KDP select.  I never saw the increased sales following the 4,000 free downloads of my award winning novel FLYING SOLO.  Not even after hawking it with KindleMojo, World Literary Cafe and anywhere I could get the info out there.   Never saw them.   I sold very few books with KDP select.  So this time, I decided to expand my ebook availablity by having in in multiple formats, Kindle, Nook, ebook and ibook via BookBaby.

The jury is out.   Scads of folks have downloaded the book in various formats, many writing reviews.    Yet, to date I show zero sales on BookBaby.   Now, to be fair, their policy is that after a sale is made in particular month, it can take up to 60 days after that month closes for them to report the sales from their distribution.   Seriously people?    Sixty freaking days?  Dont’ we live in an electronic world?   Are these retailers like Kobo, Itunes ibook, Barnes and Noble using the Pony Express?

What the heck?   <—-please insert selected four letter vulgarity here!

As an Indie author and owner of a small press, I find this completely outrageous.  How can one possibly track the availability of their marketing?   Last year, I sold more books hawking them myself via book signings and the Texas Author Book program and made more for each copy.  The problem?   And authors, you will just love this one, the numbers of books you order yourself from CreateSpace do not count as sales!    Yet, when big publishers order 10,000 copies of a new release for distribution, that book is automatically put on the New York Times best sellers list!

Again. . . what the heck?  No that one deserves fuckity-fuck, fuck, FUCK!!!

The morale of the story?   Authors you better love what you do.   Have a great time writing your Indie books, going to book signings and enjoying your fifteen minutes of fame.    Because unless you are born under a lucky star, you are barely going to break even.

What’s sad is that because of the desire to become famous, small press and Indie press have seen waves of authors turn to the dark side.   Vampires were hot, so they wrote that.   Bondage was hotter with 50 Shades of Grey, so they wrote that.    There are literally hundreds of thousands of poorly written books which overshadow quality Indie writing that get’s literally lost in the sea of Indie wannabes.    What’s an author to do?

1.  Keep complaining to CreatSpace to show your immediate electronic and expanded distribution sales

2.  Join forces with reputable Independent Press organizations like Independent Author’s Network, Readers Alliance and Book Your Next Read #BYNR.

3.  Follow Jonathan Gunson‘s tips for Indie author success.   Follow book bloggers.   Make thoughtful posts on their blogs.  Gain their trust.   Then ask for a review.

4.  Before you tweet a random book, READ IT!   Dont recommend books that are off your brand, poorly written crap.   Save your tweets for worthy words.

5.  Keep your network of solid, proven Indie Authors tight.   Communicate and unite.   Network and promo them.   Attend worthy writer’s conferences like Lexicon. You’ll be amazed.   By paying it foward, your returns will be rich.

A lawyer, David Berke has contacted AgeView Press about joining forces with other authors to draw publicity to this dilemma.   The Associated Press contacted AgeView Press, but the journalist, Hillel Italie, HillelHItalie@ap.org  never followed up on the story.   It continues to happen.   To me and to many other authors.  Please email this reporter and let them know this is NOT an isolated incident.

We keep the faith.   Continue to try and stay positive in the marketplace.   And most of all. . . write because we love doing it!    Please feel free to SHARE and reblog this post.   Grassroots efforts really do result in action.   Just ask President Obama!

What exactly is a Bush Nurse? Meet Annabelle Braley

Belles of Steel exist downunder too!  

photo of annabelle braley

A bush nurse at heart!

Take for example, Annabelle Braley, author of BUSH NURSES.   Annabelle grew up in rural Australia.  Out in the bush, as it is called downunder.  Amidst the big red kangaroos and thousands of sheep.    As a young girl, her parents wanted a better education than her small town in Queensland could provide, so she was shipped off to Brisbane to boarding school.

The state of Queensland is two and a half times the size of the state of Texas.  Think about how big that really is!   Being so far away from her family,  she spent a great deal of her childhood writing long letters home, becoming quite an avid story teller.   After school, Annabelle wanted to become a hair dresser, but her father had different ideas.   He insisted she choose between becoming a nurse or a school teacher.   Not having fond memories of her teachers at boarding school, Annabelle enrolled in nurse’s training.

Her nursing career was short-lived however, as soon she married a sheep farmer.    Packing up her hopes and dreams, she moved out to a huge, isolated cattle and sheep station in Southwest Queensland.    The station was 130 km from anything that closely resembled civilization.

Once again, she found herself writing long letters to family and friends.   Eventually, she wrote her first story for a competition.  In 2006, she published her first story.  It was a piece for RM Williams OUTBACK Magazine.   She’s been writing for them and other rural publications since.

Sheep station

1000 hectares of sheep!

In 2009, she was commissioned to write a book called Caging Octopuses; The first decade of Condamine Cods Rugby about a small community on the western Darling Downs in rural Queensland, near where she had grown up.    It was about a tiny town of 90 people, Condamine  whose inhabitants reconnected and strengthened their community by introducing a Rugby Union club.   Smack dab in the middle of a farming community, the fondness and vigor of  its residents for rugby completely revitalized a dying community.

The fabulous story was based around a fictitious character, Meg, who marries a local fictitious farmer, Boots.  Boots is a retired rugby player.  Meg writes stories about the Club for her soon to be born baby, Baby Boots.  Meg and Boots are based on a number of locals and their story reflects the story of some of the young people in the area.   Their antics were certainly was not all football!

People liked what Annabelle had to say.   Her stories and book became wildly popular.    In early 2012, she was recruited by Penguin Books to collect and collate the stories which make up BUSH NURSES.   Annabelle believed it an absolute joy to be involved in a project related to her chosen field of nursing.    She believes tha rural and remote Australia, and probably all rural and remote areas around the globe,  run on nurse power.

Just what does it take to be a nurse, out in the bush?  Often, a nurse is the only medical help immediately available.   They might be required to render emergency care,  sort out medical issues and decide who needs to be air-evac’d out.   Bush nurses might have to give immunizations or make home visits deep into the remote interiors of Australia.    They get there by jeep, helicopter or fixed wing.   Many fly as a part of the the Royal Flying Doctor Service.    They might stitch up a wound and deliver an Aboriginal baby all in the same day.    Many are trauma nurses that are certified as MidWives.  Annabelles suspects that a lot of people take nurses for granted, including many nurses themselves.   So for her, the opportunity to celebrate nurses who work in rural/remote areas was kismet.

Never for a “nursing minute” did Annabelle believe when she was a young nurse that she would be doing what she is today!  Writing about them.   A major obstacle in her pathway was her lack of any formal training as a writer.    But she believes that was balanced out by her own experiences living as a woman in outback Australia.    Generally, she loves writing about what she knows.   And she knows the outback well, having lived there most of her adult life.   No cell phones or digital TV.   Just sheer will, determination, and creativity with pen and paper.

BUSH nurses cover

A great read about what real nurse’s do!

A mentor taught her a couple of the montras by which she has survived the challenges the bush can deal out, “believe in yourself and your own abilities” and “stop and take a breath to let some things evolve in their own time.”   Days out in the bush and be long and hard.  Annabelle never gives up.   She admits practice “makes better if not perfect.”

For these reasons, AgeView Press is proud to announce that Annabelle Braley is the 9th Belle of Steel!    Congratulations to a woman who has overcome many odds to become a successful and published story teller, gifted at interpreting the trials and tribulations of other people’s stories.

Annabelles book, BUSH NURSES is available at Penguin Books online.   Australia is one of the most amazing countries you could ever visit.   Check out travel destinations by clicking Austravel.