If You’re Looking for a Writers’ Conference

writers conference meeting-83519_640Guest post
by Marian D. Schwartz

If you’re looking for a writers’ conference and you’re an indie, there are more conferences focusing on your interests today than there were when I last posted about conferences on Indies Unlimited in 2013. Well over 200 writers’ conferences will be held in the United States in 2019.

Your choices are broader if you want to attend workshops and lectures on the craft of writing than they are if you’re a self-published author who is specifically looking for ideas that will help you successfully market your books. There is no reason why a writers’ conference can’t offer workshops in craft and in self-publishing. Some offer a good balance in both, but many of them are tilted more toward one choice than the other. Continue reading “If You’re Looking for a Writers’ Conference”

Featured Event: PubSense Summit 2015

PubSense Summit LogoThis year’s PubSense Summit is coming up March 22-24, 2015 at the Francis Marion Hotel in Charleston, SC. In its second year, the conference will feature over 50 publishing industry insiders ready to help authors make sense of today’s publishing and marketing options.

Shari Stauch is one of the founding members of the PubSense Summit. Shari is an author (Precision Pool, Pool Players Edge), former pro pool player (in the WPBA Hall of Fame), and publisher of Pool & Billiard Magazine. Nowadays she’s turned her aim from pocketing balls to helping authors pocket more book sales. She is also the creator of the well-known website Where Writers Win (vetted author resources). Shari teaches at conferences around the country and consults with authors and publishers to help emerging authors find their readers.

Thanks for being with us here today, Shari.

Please tell us why you got involved with PubSense.
Speaking at other conferences, I saw first-hand this “disconnect” from today’s publishing reality. Several of us in the “biz” – all authors as well – talked about producing a first-rate conference about the business side of being an author, one that would put both trad and indie options on the table, teach authors the realities – good and bad – of each, the marketing options out there, and put authors in a better position to make decisions (because there’s no ONE right answer!) We didn’t want another conference about craft; there are plenty of those. Rather, we wanted to create more of a roadmap for emerging authors / small publishers, wherever they were at in their process.

What do you see as the main benefit for indie authors in attending the PubSense Summit?
We’re arming indie authors with both knowledge and connections that will directly impact their bottom line. We all know there’s a lot of good AND bad info out there – our goal is to distill it down to the least an author needs to steer their own course.

What lessons have you learned from last year’s event that you’ve put into practice for this year?
The first change for us was the name! We loved PubSmart but it didn’t quite say it all because it’s not enough to be “smart” these days – we all have to be able to come together and make SENSE of this constantly shifting landscape!

Last year, we conducted post-con surveys and as a result, we added sessions and expanded the length of each. Attendees clamored for more time in between classes to learn from exhibitors in the “Discovery Zone” (exhibit area) and network with each other, so we’ve done that, too, as well as adding some events/meals to further nurture those opportunities.

What size audience are you expecting this year?
Based on our space and faculty we want to keep the number at no more than 300 to allow for maximum faculty/attendee interaction.

Is there anything PubSense Summit offers that participants might not find at other conferences?
The goal is to address three key areas: pre-publication, production, and post-pub marketing/PR. What you’ll see that’s quite different from most conferences includes:

  • Instead of having the traditional agent/editor panels, we’ve strategically placed agents, editors, and marketing people on panels where we know they can offer their own powerful perspectives.
  • Which of today’s publishing options are best and how they’re each evolving, starting with a two-hour PubSense Options and Avenues  master class that puts traditional, hybrid, and self-publishers together to present multiple points of view.
  • Creating a professional product for the market, including how to find and get the most out of editors and book designers, exploring the expanded capabilities of today’s advanced ebook tech, budgeting, legal and insurance options, crowdfunding, pre-publication platform building.
  • How to launch that product in an ever-crowded marketplace with sessions on everything from traditional PR, launch parties and press kits, to websites and social media, to understanding SEO and metadata, to all the new book discoverability tools helping authors find readers.
  • We’ve added a panel talking about the Rise of Small Press because both indie and traditionally published authors are asking what role they’re now playing.
  • Over 25 exhibitors in what we call the Discovery Zone, so attendees can learn hands-on about the different apps, discoverability tools and author services on offer.
  • Each of our speakers are asked to blog for our audience, too, and so many have already begun to share their insights long before they arrive in Charleston.

Okay, now the hard part… we know you’ve got a lot of noteworthy speakers and events at the Summit, but tell us about just a few of them.
Five master classes offer more intense, two-hour sessions on Sunday. On Monday and Tuesday we have 18 one-hour sessions (6 more than last year – same price!), a keynote breakfast with Publisher’s Weekly publisher Cevin Bryerman; a keynote lunch with best-selling author Joanna Penn (The Creative Penn), and our signature Dish & Dialog dinner sponsored by CreateSpace/Kindle/ACX.

One unique session for indies is about SELF-e, an innovative collaboration between Library Journal and BiblioBoard® that enables authors and libraries to work together to expose self-published ebooks. Another, led by popular journalist Porter Anderson, called “What’s Trending,” will feature insiders discussing what’s coming up for indies to expand reach, hot genres, and challenges. An extended session called “Perfect Pitch” will teach us how to better pitch bookstores, clubs and librarians, and practice on those exact folks (plus an agent and editor) right within the session!

Digital book guru Peter Meyers will talk about the newest here-and-now ebook content design ideas, focusing on what you can do today without a blockbuster budget. And, Funding for Emerging Authors with PubSlush’s Amanda Barbara and Funds for Writers’ C. Hope Clark, delves into crowdfunding and presales for authors as well as plenty of tips on funding and budgeting to build your author career.

What is your favorite part of all this?
I love every bit of it –but without question my favorite part has to be every time an attendee says, “This was unique, and I learned so much!”  Because that feels like, “Mission accomplished.”

Is there anything you would like to add?
Yes! As a gift to any of the IU tribe, if you visit writerswin.com you can grab WWW’s code to save 10% off Basic or VIP registration. And we’re having an exciting registration contest at the PubSense Summit site with a chance to win a $1,000 promotional consult and marketing plan from Claire McKinney PR!

Where can folks find out more about the 2015 PubSense Summit?

Indies Unlimited does not endorse or support any specific providers of products or services.

Writers Conferences – Are They Worth It?

I have only been to one writer’s conference. It was a small one in Auckland, New Zealand run by the Romance Writer’s Guild. So yes, there were a lot of Mills and Boons authors there and yes, I possibly could have found one that was a slightly better fit for me, but all my books have a heavy romantic element and it was in town, so I figured I should give it a shot.

Was it worth it? Continue reading “Writers Conferences – Are They Worth It?”