Lam, Ingrid, and I spent our weekend in beautiful Edmonds, north of Seattle, at the Write on the Sound conference. There we led two workshops: The Happy Author Panel: How to Strike a Balance Between Promoting and Creating and Social Media and Marketing for Authors. Both of these classes addressed, from slightly different angles, the challenge authors face now that they are expected to be not only great writers but also great publicists. All in all, it’s an exciting but overwhelming time to be an author, and though we spend a lot of time over here at GFP discussing these challenges with our clients, we love stepping in front of a diverse group of authors and getting a chance to hear what’s on their minds. We were impressed with the caliber of writers in the audience at WOTS. Our attendees were energetic and ready to learn, and they asked excellent questions. How can I make Twitter fun? How can I make my blog effective? Do I really need to use Google Plus? Ingrid and I taught a class at the same location for the EPIC writers groups two weeks earlier entitled How to Create a Winning Proposal. Since we had all novelists and memoirists for this class, we focused on story hooks, query letters, and marketing techniques. We had a full two hours with the EPIC students, during which we helped them polish their pitches and brainstorm marketing strategies. The students were a wonderfully diverse group and had some truly fabulous-sounding works in progress.
Between the two stopovers in Edmonds, I also made a brief trip to Tacoma to visit the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Tradeshow. I was on two education panels, How to Read Books and Influence People, where I got a fascinating behind-the-scenes view of how indie booksellers find the books they love, and Building Better Book Communities. My fellow panelists for the latter were my good friend Tegan Tigani, bookseller at Queen Anne Book Company; Jane Hodges, who runs Seattle’s Lit Crawl; and Linda Johns, from the Seattle Public Library. I couldn’t have asked for a smarter, livelier group for this conversation. We talked about how to make the best use of your local book community and how to become an influencer by being a good patron (to bookstores and libraries), reader, and friend.
All of these experiences gave me the opportunity to learn a lot about what authors need help with, and how that’s changing. Authors are more open, or at least more resigned, to the fact that they need to learn their way around social media. But the level of anxiety is still high. I get the same questions all the time: How do I make time for this stuff? How do I make social media effective instead of just a time-suck? How can I get anyone to pay attention to what I’m putting out there?
One thing is guaranteed to happen whenever I give one of these workshops: time will run out before I can answer every question. With that in mind, we’re launching a series of our own workshops. First up: Social Media and Marketing for Authors Made Easy. The workshop will take place on Saturday, November 8, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Please e-mail us to register. Stay tuned for classes on self-publishing, writing, and more.