Wordy Wednesday (“Writer’s Digest Conference NOTES, Part 6)

It’s The Return of the Notes!!!!! (If you didn’t notice, I went to see Star Wars in 3D over the weekend.)


The New World of Publishing, and What It Means for You by Barry Eisler


  • Digital publishing is changing – but readers still love to read and are still willing to pay for good writing; that probably (hopefully) will never change. You still have to write the very best book; you’re obligated to write the best book you’re capable of writing.
  • It can only help your chances of commercial success to write the best book you’re capable of writing.
  • Writers need good editorial, books need good packaging (the nature of the packaging is changing, but needing packaging is not)
  • “If you write for a living, then you are your own CEO” – one way writing’s not changing
  • Check out Barry’s website (linked to by clicking on his name above). Read the page “For Writers,” and check out his book Be the Monkey.
  • You are the cause for your own success, or failure, in the world of writing
  • Making a living in the writing business has always been a kind of lottery and it always will be – Most writers do not make a living at writing.
  • The statistic about the avg. e-book only selling 83 copies is only in the short term – don’t know how many books it’ll sell in the long term.
  • What’s Changed: As writers, if we want to make a living at writing, we’ve always needed a distribution partner. Now, with ebooks, we don’t.
  • The Valley Proposition: sure you’re only keeping 15% proceeds of your book, but with us (the publisher) you’re actually selling books and without us you wouldn’t get any money at all. In paper, we need a distribution partner. But without paper, we don’t. Publishers are a distribution partner. They’ve built their businesses off of distribution partner. All the things they do are based around distribution.
  • With digital: You are on a level playing field with the big buck publishers.
  • There is nothing that the big corporation publishers can give you with digital that you can’t give yourself.
  • Amazon has unparalleled direct-to-consumer marketing in the digital world
  • Publishing is going to be rebuilt, not on distribution, but on direct-to-consumer marketing


Panel: Hardcore Author Marketing – What to Do to Rise Above in the Digital Age by Dan Blank, Rob Eagar, Christina Katz, and Kate Travers


  • Be contrarian, but not controversial
  • Marketing is not about the means – not Facebook, or Twitter, or blogs, or public speaking – those are just the channel by which you get your thoughts out to people and get their attention
  • What kind of thoughtful, intelligent response do you have for something that’s going on – get that out there, and people will want to pay attention
  • You are a base. Shop local, know your local bookstore, and go to events there. Buy their books. Know your local library and go to events there; see who is part of the literary scene in your community.
  • Look at the people who come out in the dead of winter to come to a reader – build a relationship with them, and they will be behind you.
  • Have a mailing list.
  • It doesn’t need to be provocative; it just needs to be a conversation. It can be different from your previous work, but it must promote and connect with your previous work. Don’t isolate. Reach out to the people who are already your followers and fans.
  • It’s becoming increasingly difficult to get attention online, because everyone’s willing to scream and shout and point to themselves; it can be embarrassing and it can be difficult.
  • It’s not about what you’re saying, but who you’re saying it to. Understand who your audience is online and who you engage. You can reach out to anyone you want online.
  • Put yourself on other people’s blogs and do interviews, bring their audience to your blog.
  • Everyone wants to see their names up in lights. Everyone has something to share.
  • Don’t identity who the influential people are in your group/tribe, and then decide that their space is your billboard for sharing your work.
  • Be respectful of those who have gone ahead and done a lot of work; possibly spent years developing an audience and developing a good relationship with them.
  • Don’t be the vanilla-middle. When you choose to do something, do it fully. Don’t do what a million other people are doing – Tweet a lot, be consistent.
  • Be willing to spend money on ads if it means that you’re earning more money on your books.
  • Thinking outside the box will always be helpful in your career.
  • Be human. Don’t just talk about writing, or yourself; don’t just talk about books. Talk about your experiences, things that people can relate to. Be authentic (so if you see a mouse at Whole Foods, def tweet about it) (see six people reading the same book on the subway? Talk about it!).
  • Don’t be a machine. Don’t be a shark. People can tell when you genuinely care, or when you just want to sell, sell, sell.
  • Don’t call someone in the middle of the night requesting free marketing advice.
  •  “Yousletter” vs. “newsletter” – people aren’t interested in you, they’re interested in what you can do for them.
  • Make your materials less about you and more about the reader.
  • Engage the audience: What gets people to act. What gets people to actually pull the trigger and buy your book. People underestimate what makes people buy a book.
  • How do your track what’s working? How do you keep track? How does that happen, that someone buys your book?
  • Just take an hour a week and see who’s buying your book, try to figure out how and why they bought your book. Grow your success by concentrating on what’s working and all that.
  • Definitely create an affiliate relationship with Amazon and your publisher.
  • You get a kickback for anything that’s sold through your site.
  • Use Mashable.com.
  • Give something for free. Works strategically. (Have to have publisher’s permission, though.)
  • Put out tips and strategies for free. “Freemiums.”
  • What’s the upsell? What do people go for full price?
  • Use Google Analytics
  • Freemiums can go beyond anything you’re specifically giving away.
  • Freemiums, blogs, and newsletters – the best ways to get attention.
  • To get attention for your novels – Share backstories, lost chapters, contests. Show tidbits of your research on your story, positions you as an expert. Do free phone calls with book clubs. Allow people to sign up on your website.
  • When you get to be more advanced, create a fanclub and have people do your marketing for you.
  • You need to know who your biggest fans are. Dig in for the marketing hall. Don’t work in phases. Marketing is a job, a big job, and it’s not just going to do itself.
  • Take things out; think “people want this, people need this” – extract those, and put them in the hands of your biggest fans. Champion them. Be a champion for your fans, and they’ll be a champion for you.
  • Focus on making relationships; don’t worry about which audience you’re appealing to, exactly; realize what magazines and blogs reach the type of person you’re aiming for. You have to build two different audiences – the writers and the readers.
  • Good Reads is an interesting community, but it’s less about readers as much as writers now.
  • Keep going. There’s nothing instantaneous about this process. KEEP GOING. It’s a continuous, passionate process.
  • Use Google +. Haven’t done it yet, DO IT NOW. The circles feature is very, very helpful.
  • Make sure to always be on top of and a part of social media. You create your base relationships on there. There’s no surprise tricks – just keep going.
  • Don’t preach to the choir. (We’re at “marketing church” because it’s Sunday morning lol.)
  • What’s your value, who needs it the most, and where they congregate in large numbers.
  • Know the difference between your colleagues and your potential fans. You want readers for what you write (so if you write books for writers, go to writing conferences).
  • Spend more time with readers who read your books than writers who write your books.
  • Spezify.com – shows you who’s talking about you all over the internet (so you can thank them! J) You should thank people ten times as often as you get thanked
  • You’re talking to more than one audience. Engage all of them. What are you doing to get and keep people and get them to buy your books.
  • It’s making the best use of the time you have.



Guess what! We only have one more session to go over after this! YAAAY! 😀 Are there any topics you’d like for me to cover after we’re finally done with Writer’s Digest Conference notes? Let me know in the comments!




12 thoughts on “Wordy Wednesday (“Writer’s Digest Conference NOTES, Part 6)

    • My family’s obsessed and it was my dad’s birthday. I really had no choice in the matter. (Parts of it were better than I remembered — like the fact that this was the first time I even understood the plot of the film — and then other parts were like, “JAR JAR BINKS YOU ARE THE MOST ANNOYING CHARACTER EVER CREATED PLEASE GO AND DIEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”) (I think I almost screamed that out loud at one point, but I was scared all of the uber fans in the theatre — primarily my father and brother — would beat me to a pulp with their toy light sabers.)

      I mean, I like Star Wars. I think some parts of it are awesome. I could watch it over and over and over again (and have)… And then other parts just drive me nuts and make me wonder WHYYY (*cough* Why is Padme a queen, but not by religious birth but as an elected official, but called “naive” by the enemies even though she obviously had to be smart enough to get elected, and running her country WHEN SHE’S ONLY FOURTEEN???).

      George Lucas, you confuzzle me.


      • Three words: the original trilogy.

        Okay, then. If you had no choice, then I guess we can still be friends… It’s kind of sad, that used to be my favorite of all six Star Wars, but now I just CANNOT STAND Anakin (I never could, honestly), and Jar Jar Binks… *groan*

        Go edit, you. *kick*


      • Bahahahaha!

        I used to watch those movies with my brother! I was seriously obsessed with the first three. Not the original series. And Jar Jar Banks. xD He was hilarious to my six-year-old mind, if not slightly creepy. I even had a Jar Jar Banks cup. (In my defense, I did not choose the cup. I wasn’t given a choice.)

        I have a feeling that my opinions on the movies may have changed since then, but whatever. I enjoyed them. So sue me. 😛


        • Oh, but the originals are so much better! The first three are messed up, when you really think about them. And Jar Jar Binks annoys me like no other — I was actually secretly rooting for him to get himself killed at one point. It was bad. (The only reason I didn’t say anything out loud was because I thought I might get attacked by the rabid fans sitting all around me.)

          I enjoyed them a lot when I was little, but it was so different seeing Episode 1 now that I’m older and have seen, you know, a wider scope of the world. It just hacked me off that Star Wars could be so popular and yet so stupid at the same time. Parts of it were almost as bad as Twilight (I legit wanted to laugh at some of the serious parts — probably not a good thing.)


          • Oh gosh, no. You’re right — thinking back, those movies were AWFUL, and the originals are definitely better. I will not contest that. xD But I loved them when I was six, so yeah.

            Still, though, the originals are just so painful sometimes. xP Luke is one of the most annoying characters ever with awful lines, and Leia is just… UGH. Han Solo FTW! Also R2D2 and C3PO. (We had a poster of them in our computer room when I was little. But the million dollar question? Which is more geeky: the fact that we had the poster, or the fact that we had a computer room?) And Chewbacca, but everyone loves Chewie. 😛


            • Agreed. 99% of the dialogue in those movies makes me want to barf. (Remind me why I like them so much again? I’m really starting to question this judgement, now. lol) Han Solo is amazing, though. (Can I just say, however — while we’re on the topic of Harrison Ford — that the scripting for the Indiana Jones movies is AWFUL? They keep playing the one with his father in it on TV and I swear I’m going to shoot someone the next time I hear him say, “Dad!” Grrrrr. He’s like “Dad THIS,” and “Dad THAT,” and I’m like, “SHUT UP INDY! THIS IS WHY YOU DON’T HAVE ANY FRIENDS!!!!!”)

              Definitely the poster, although I’m fairly certain we’ve got a holographic Star Wars in Concert poster floating around somewhere, so we’re not much better. (And we totally used to have a computer room too, haha. We called it the “study,” though, to make it sound a little better — but all we really ever did in there was use the computers.)

              I named one of my gerbils after Chewie. 😀


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