Ashland Creek Press was delighted to be a part of a workshop on e-publishing last weekend at the Ashland Public Library, where authors, editors, and publishers gathered to talk about the ins and outs of e-publishing, from editorial to production to marketing.
Author Tim Wohlforth began with a State of Mystery (also a State of Publishing) address, which highlighted the fact that e-books are rapidly gaining momentum (the triple-digit percentage increases in sales have only recently begun to level off), as well as the fact that mysteries remain a bestselling genre, second only to romance. After his remarks on all the recent trends in publishing, Tim concluded with a great bit of advice for writers: Don’t get caught up in what the latest trend in mystery is. “Write what you want to write,” he advised.
We heard next from LJ Sellers, an award-winning journalist who is now a full-time author. She talked about her experiences getting her books out into the world and how she spent $12,000 on self-publishing her first novel, The Sex Club; now, thanks to user-friendly strides in digital and self-publishing, she spends an average of $600 on each. And she’s living every writer’s dream: making a living off her books. As this Mail Tribune article notes, last year, LJ’s e-books were on the Amazon Kindle bestseller crime fiction list for three months, and she estimates she has sold about 150,000 e-books in the last two years. LJ pointed out something that is important for all author-entrepreneurs to know: that she is as much businesswoman as she is author. She pointed out that she views her books as “products, not children,” and noted that this means she doesn’t hesitate to fix what may need fixing if a book isn’t selling well, whether it’s the cover copy or the keywords or even the title. Her parting advice: “Be flexible, be a risk taker, be social [as in social media], and be thick-skinned.” (By the way, I just began reading her novel The Sex Club — loving it so far!)
Author Michael Niemann gave an insightful presentation on the mechanics of creating e-books on the two most common formats, ePub and Mobi — a great overview for any author or small publisher interested in e-publishing. Then Ken Lewis, of Krill Press, and I talked about marketing and promotion. I chatted a lot about social media and virtual book tours, and we got a great tip later from writer and photographer Liza Kendall Christian on how writers can use Pinterest in a fun way: As well as a cover image, post a few of the best lines from your book.
Ken and I both pointed out that, ultimately, the most important thing about promotion is to have an excellent book. I especially enjoyed what Ken had to say about the importance of titles: Authors need to have titles that stand out among the rest, and cover art to match. He told the story of one of Krill Press’s popular mystery titles, formerly Full Circle, now titled Absinthe Of Malice (A Penny Mackenzie Mystery), and how good titles, matched with engaging covers, have made all the difference in selling mysteries.
After the presentations, we broke out into smaller sessions in which we got to chat with authors, answer questions, and learn more about the state of mystery — a lovely afternoon. A million thanks the event’s sponsors: the Ashland Mystery Readers Group, Friends of the Ashland Public Library, Standing Stone Brewing Company, and Bookwagon New and Used Books.