Writing the Rockies = awesomeness. If you haven’t heard of it, Writing the Rockies is a conference that’s held on the campus of Western State Colorado University in Gunnison, Colorado. This year, it was July 25 – July 28. The conference offers sessions on popular genre fiction, nonfiction, poetry, screenwriting, and publishing. Attendees can go to different sessions or focus on one area.
The college campus is beautiful. I wanted to take more pictures, but every time I wasn’t busy, it was either dark or raining. It’s raining hard in this picture:
The conference came at the end of my two-week residency at the school (I was there working on this. Please submit). I didn’t get much sleep during the two weeks because my on-campus apartment was loud, hot, and buggy. By the time I got to the conference, I was in exhausted zombie-mode. However, the conference was amazing. I loved it. I took about 6 pages of notes, and some of them are actually coherent.
I went to all of the publishing sessions and all of the keynotes. Here are a few of the things I learned:
1. Many authors don’t understand what a publishing company does.
A publishing company usually doesn’t print books. They hire book-printing companies to do that. Publishing companies find books that will stand out in the marketplace, provide authors with many different types of editorial advice, design the cover and the interior of the book, work with retailers and book distributers, help build the author’s brand, market the book, and handle the legal stuff, such as copyright protection. Random House explains it all better than me. (I'm not sure why the videos aren't working on the mobile version of this blog).
This means that if you want to self-publish, and you don’t want your book to look self-published, you have to either learn how to do all of these things yourself, or you have to hire somebody to do them. On a slightly-related note, I also learned that the average self-published e-book sells 75 copies.
2. Social media is important.
One of the authors at the conference said that her publishing company required her to have a website, a blog, a LinkedIn account, a Twitter account, and a Facebook account with at least 5,000 friends or 5,000 “likes.” All of these social media sites need to be updated regularly by the author.
3. Press kits are a thing.
I’d never heard of a press kit before. They can be created by an author or by a publishing company. The press kit that I saw was a folder which contained a flier that advertised the book, an author bio, and author interview questions with answers. The press kit is given to anyone who is reviewing the book or interviewing the author.
4. Find your people before you write.
Authors can start promoting their books before the book is written. If you write mysteries, go out in real life or on the Internet and find other people who write mysteries. If you write about cycling, go find cyclists. Make friends. Get involved in conversations. Make some real connections. Don’t just try to promote your unwritten book. That could get annoying. When you do write and publish the book, you’ll already have an audience.
My favorite part of the conference was getting to hear pitches for possible anthology stories and poems. We had an office (okay, it was a classroom) with our names on the door (okay, the names were on a piece of printer paper that was taped to the door), but it was still really cool. Authors came and talked to us about their stories or poems, and we gave them feedback. I enjoyed hearing everybody’s ideas. There are a lot of creative people in the world.
I’m already looking forward to next year’s conference. If you’re in the Gunnison, Colorado area, I highly recommend coming to Writing the Rockies.