It’s Sunday morning, the laundry is going, dinner’s cooking in the crock pot, and I’m feeling quite high. High on the fellowship I experienced yesterday. High on the warmth and wisdom from our speaker, Shelley Young. And high on the excitement of putting her ideas to work for my writing business.
Let me get a few housekeeping items out of the way, and then I’ll summarize Shelley’s presentation.
One, thank you to new and returning members for your support of the Guild. The DVWG is a little homegrown effort by and for writers, and your monetary support means everything. Specifically, it means you want us to keep going. That’s such a compliment, and speaking for the Guild’s board, it really motivates us.
Second, thanks to Wendy Knepp, who greets people as they come through the door. She hands out nametags and Sharpies, answers questions, and generally makes people feel at home as soon as they arrive.
Thanks to Marj Charlier and Dixie Ayala, who work the information/dues table, handing out handouts and taking in memberships. As Wendy, Marj, and Dixie worked, I was able to flit around and greet people. Since our main goal is social–a nice gathering place for writers–it seems fitting that we’d all be at the entrance to our meeting room, ready with a smile and the answers to your questions. As the Guild matures, we’re finding out what works.
And thanks for your warm welcome to Shelley, her godmother Ilene, and her husband Robert. At lunch afterward, she told me no less than three times, “This is a great group!” Yes, we are. After lunch, as people started to leave Chili’s, many came over to say goodbye to Shelley and thank her again for all the great information. Over and over again, I heard this:
- She could have talked for a lot longer!
- We should ask her to do a workshop.
There was a little down-note, though. A gentleman ventured through the doors a little before 9:30. He was new, and he’d brought three short stories to read aloud to all of you. As I explained we’re not that kind of group, he was disappointed.
If any of you would like to form critique or reading groups, writing groups, marketing groups, etc., wave your hand at the meeting and get my attention during the first half-hour. Stand up and tell folks what you’d like to do, and encourage them to come talk to you after the meeting. The Guild doesn’t create such groups as a formal matter, but we’d definitely help you do so, if we can.
Dave Putnam is doing a book launch in Temecula, just north of Old Town, at the Wine on a Dime wine-tasting room on Saturday, February 17, 2018. Here’s the flyer:
Also, Cindy Finkelstein mentioned the city of Ontario’s Teen Book Fest at Colony High School in Ontario on March 3, 2018. Here’s the link. And welcome to the new teen/student members of the Diamond Valley Writers’ Guild!
Lastly, please LIKE our Facebook Page in order to get updates about events, news, and craft/marketing tips.
Summary of our Saturday, January 27, 2018 meeting.
CJ Hernley and I met Shelley Young five years ago at a writer’s workshop in Apple Valley. At the time, Shelley was just beginning her publishing journey. Get this: while working fulltime, Shelley wrote eight novels. (What’s your excuse?)
After that workshop, she went on to publish them, achieved national and international bestseller status, won awards (see her website), and then branched out. She is now a publisher, as well as coaching other authors to achieve their writing and marketing goals.
Shelley, who is a warm and confident speaker, started her talk with a view into the world of traditional New York publishing. She shared these facts: (a) in the traditional realm, the success of a book depends on how it does in the FIRST THREE MONTHS (whereas we indies have much more time to be successful), and (b) the burden of marketing is still, always, on the author.
Shelley posed this question: “How do you get traction when you don’t have money or a big following?” Here are some of her tips:
- Content is king. If the story is powerful, readers will overlook certain issues, like the occasional typo. Leave the fear behind and focus on writing your very best story. And to that end, “Listen to the voices.” When your characters speak, let them. You may file their willfulness away for a later time, or they may guide you in a whole new direction. This happens frequently for Shelley, leading in one case to “The Babisian Box,” which was sparked by a dream.
- Write a novella (10K – 20K words) to hook readers into your other works, and list it for $.99. For example, I have a three-book series, and based on Shelley’s idea, I’m going to write a prequel novella.
- Be aware that “there is a commonality in all best-selling books.” Readers love to read about these thematic elements:
- love / lack of love
- injustice (the more your character goes through, the more readers will care about the story, because it allows the reader to have a vicarious response)
- Keywords help you find new readers. When readers search on Amazon, your keywords will help them find you. You can change your book’s keywords via the dashboard where your book is published, as with KDP or Createspace, for example. A great tip for deciding on keywords: go to Amazon, using a computer other than your own (I assume this is because the Amazon 800-lb. gorilla can tell if you’re trying to game the system.) In the Amazon search bar, type in your book’s genre. As you type, note that the search engine will begin offering common search terms. These terms are common because everybody uses them! Meaning, you should be, too. Pick one or two from the top of the list and add them to your book’s keywords.
There was much more, but we ran out of time. Shelley is so generous, she just wanted to keep sharing, but there were books to be sold! For the next 45 minutes, we swarmed her table, chatting with her and her family, and buying books.
If you would like to get in touch with Shelley for further guidance or coaching in relation to your own publishing success, please go to her website for contact information.
February 24, 2018 Guild Meeting
Angela Bole is the CEO of the Independent Book Publishers’ Association (IBPA). At our February meeting, she will talk with us about the ways in which her organization is helping independent publishers and writers succeed, providing advocacy, education, and tools for success.
Marj Charlier, member and Treasurer of the DVWG, will join Angela for a talk show-style conversation. Marj is a publisher and author in her own right and is keenly aware of the needs of authors as well as the challenges of publishing. At this meeting, you’ll learn:
- How to produce a professionally published book, using IBPA’s standards
- How trends in the publishing industry will affect you in 2018
- What self-published and indie authors can do to sell more books and get better reviews.
I look forward to seeing you at the February 24, 2018 meeting.
This blog post was prepared by Lynne Spreen, President of the DVWG. Lynne writes midlife fiction, because she believes we learn and grow continuously throughout our lives. You may access her website here and her books here.