By: Sara Matz | A two-minute read.
We’re a little late on our blogs this week, but it’s for a great reason, I promise! Our team of Author Success Consultants went to Philcon in Cherry Hill New Jersey, a Sci-fi and Fantasy writer’s convention, with the intention of meeting self-published authors and small presses and getting a feel for what you want and need from your publisher. (More importantly, I really love sci-fi, and it was SO fun!) We sat in on panels that ranged from the process of getting self-published, the value and expectations of having your work edited, to how to make the content of your book more accurate.
One thing I was impressed to learn is how many authors were disinterested in traditional publishing entirely. Most people we asked considered traditional publishing a waste of time and the lack of control they had over their own work was extremely off-putting. One author I spoke with, Paul Levinson, even talked about a book he had traditionally published having cover art that did not reflect the contents of his book! I was also very surprised with the lack of marketing options to new authors at a traditional publisher. Unfortunately, when they’re only worried about the bottom line traditional publishers seem to lean towards doing what is marketable rather than a proper reflection of the book or author’s input. One of the best laughs I got was from John Skylar, “With a traditional publisher sometimes you wait so long your near-future science fiction novel becomes an alternate history novel.”
Cover design was a heavily discussed topic on the panels we sat on. There were diverse opinions on where to commission your artwork. The one thing everyone agreed on is to be ready to compensate your artist and do it fairly. Some authors chose to commission an artist to read a section of their book and design the cover based on the sections provided. Whereas this takes significantly longer, they all were extremely satisfied with the covers presented to us. Other authors were fond of finding stock images and either using them as is or using relevant pieces and photoshopping them into the perfect image. Author Danielle Ackley-McPhail spoke very highly of using stock imagery for her books (and the covers I saw were beautiful!) and if you can spend the time sifting through images to find a gem it’s a great way to manage your costs.
Several authors suggested Deviant Art for images and artists that match their style. Deviant art allows you to contact artists to ask permission to use their work, and so many are excited to share their work at a reasonable price. There is so much undiscovered talent out there, I was really happy to see the support for other artists and authors. The culture of supporting each other was very strong through this entire convention.
We sat in on a marketing panel and I got to ask the question, “Personally, which digital marketing and physical marketing methods have been the most successful?” The authors had varying opinions on which digital method worked best, but when it came to what physical marketing the panel agreed going to cons and talking on panels was the most effective marketing they do for themselves. Each of the authors that spoke had so much knowledge on the writing and publishing process it added a layer of interest about their books’ content beyond their introductions.
Most of the authors we listened to had tables set up in the dealer’s room and spent any time they were not on a panel mingling with their future readers. When approaching a table, most authors would greet you and ask what some of your interests are when reading and could easily guide you to which of their work fit your interests. I found myself not only looking at books for myself but sending pictures and information to friends who were not at the con, one of which I know purchased the book on Amazon immediately (word of mouth marketing at its finest).
Philcon was a great experience for me and my colleagues and we are so inspired to get more involved in cons. Hopefully, next time you see us out we’ll be on some panels of our own inspiring authors the way these authors inspired us last weekend.
As one of the Author Success Consultants for AnewPress, it’s my goal to assist you in getting your book from concept to sales. If you have any questions about publishing, let me know.