I have two long and half-finished posts on how to self publish in 37 easy steps, or they may in fact be my next book. Anyways they are a mess and not fit to be seen at the moment – maybe in a few days!
Instead, today I want to talk about networking, in specific local networking. Most of the people I know and trust in my business I’ve never met in real-life. All live overseas, most a long-haul flight away. That’s all cool, but the reality is – that sometimes, it would be nice meet in person, real-time and have a drink. You know – like we used to do in the old days. It occurred to me a few months ago – that maybe, just maybe, there are people in my own country interested in this whole self-publishing gig too.
A few months back I joined the New Zealand Society of Authors Why? To be honest I was looking to increase my authority on self publishing and it seemed like the logo would look cool in my sidebar. I was sold, when I realised I’d get a free listing on their site, so that I could knock a rather mediocre athlete’s ranking (Dancesport) from Google’s page 1 results for that uber-important Google search term “Elisabeth Sowerbutts” (now #9 – should bounce up a few spots with the link above). (Yup SEO does still work).
However apart from the personal branding and SEO benefits – NZAS – has actually turned out to be quite fascinating. They sent me a real life paper newsletter – with a stamp on it! The first newsletter contained incorrect factual information (on getting an US tax number for NZ authors) plus an opinion piece which I violently disagreed with. (There didn’t appear to be a functioning comments box though on the paper – how does this old-style stuff work again?)
So when I saw that the local branch was running a meeting in a pub I was immediately interested. In addition I wanted to put faces to this organisation that still offered advice on publishing contracts and which printed articles opining that 2013 brought Less Choice For Authors.
Did I learn anything – certainly. I learnt that apparently New Zealand authors can get paid for their books being borrowed from an NZ library – and to get your book listed on a booksite the libraries use to order books from (wheelers.co.nz) I’ve seen self-published books in my local library – so this is interesting, but I haven’t put the pieces together yet.
I also learnt something else – vanity presses have morphed – into something pitched as “small press publishers” – but the deal is still the same – the author is giving them rights to most of the profits from book sales while at the same time spending thousands in fees up front for cover design, editing and formatting (layout they call it). And in return how much marketing is the publisher doing? Little. How many distribution networks to bookshops does the publisher have – none. Writer beware as they say.
Back To The Future, Down Under
The more I see the more intrigued I am, I feel a bit like I’ve been given a glance of the future, not by jumping in a De Lorean, but by hanging out online in places like KindleBoards.com and I’ve seen what other tech and business savvy writers are doing in social media (have you joined my own Self-Publishing community on G+ yet?) And now I’ve returned to 2013 and the shamans and priests are still selling indulgences to the masses in return for the miracle of a printed book. (Yes I saw the books: they were high-quality printing – in fact the same quality as the books I have printed from Createspace).
I totally understand that every writer doesn’t want to do their own editing, cover design, eBook and print formatting and their own marketing. The reality is though, even if you are published with a mainstream traditional publisher, you will be doing your own marketing, and all the other items on the list can be bought from a competent freelancer on a fee-for-service basis. While retaining control of your book’s distribution, formats, pricing, discounts and everything else.
What are your thoughts – have any of you joined a local writers society?
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