7 Publishing Tips I Learned at Writer’s Digest Conference East 2013


In April 2013, I attended Writer’s Digest Conference East in New York City as one of the editorial staff for Writer's Digest, and aside from the standard (though invaluable) advice on craft, career, and publishing options for writers, I picked up these seven tidbits of info that I found especially fascinating. You might too, so enjoy!

1. Bookmarks: Every reader needs them. Heck, I have about thirty around my apartment lying in wait and I still take more when I can. So think about creating some with your name and book title on them. They’re easy to make, inexpensive to print, and they can help spread the word about your book, name, website, or twitter handle long after someone has finished your book. It’s a great tip I picked up from Eric DelaBarre (former writer for Law & Order and author of the hit children’s novel Saltwater Taffy).

2. Author Pages: I’ve used CreateSpace/Amazon to publish a collection of poetry, and I plan to use them to publish my upcoming collection of short stories, but I had no idea that they allow any author—no matter who has published the book—to create and modify an author page at Amazon.com. You can even link blogs and twitter accounts to the page. It’s like having a second website for free. Might have been common knowledge before, but it was cool news to me, and I thank Jon Fine, the director of Author and Publisher Relations for Amazon, for that great tip.

3. Blog to Website: Despite their wide use by industry professionals and writers, many blogs and websites that have the tags .blogspot and .wordpress retain a slight stigma as being “less professional” than a website. So the $10 a year (or so) that these sites charge to turn it into a strictly .com operation is well worth the money to dispel any doubt that you are taking this seriously. 

4. Output: I learned that Erle Stanley Gardner, the creator of the Perry Mason mysteries and a prolific pulp novelist in the 30s, had a personal goal of writing 66,000 words per week . . . PER WEEK. That’s impressive, and he hit that regularly. I’ll try to keep that in mind when I feel like slacking. Thank goes to Elizabeth Sims (crime writer and author of the upcoming You’veGot a Book in You, which I helped edit) for that piece of info. ***Update: When first posted at my original blog, there was a great deal of back and forth about the actual figures, with James Scott Bell providing a possible 23K a week. Be it 20+, 40+, or 60+ per week, the man wrote at a rate that far outpaces my own!***

5. Partner Publishing: Now this sounds cool, especially for all you collaborative types out there. This is a growing trend in which individual authors, editors, designers, marketers, etc., come together, work on a book, make it as good as it can be, and get it in front of as many readers as possible, and the profits are split proportionately. It’s a bridge between self-publishing and traditional publishing but everyone gets a fair piece of the pie, which might be super helpful for writers with few technical and social networking skills. Look into it, and thanks goes to agent April Eberhardt for pointing it out.

6. Reviews: Looking for reviewers for your book? Well, who has reviewed similar books? Find books like yours, go to Amazon and GoodReads (or search blogs) and scour reviews, and contact those reviewers with an offer to review your new book. Be sure to sweeten the pot by offering a free print version or eBook. Book lovers go after free books like zombies go after brains. Just be ok with some saying no. They’re busy people too, just like you.

7. Word of Mouth: If you’re looking for a little extra support to spread the word about your book, consider offering a portion of the proceeds to a local charity or a unique organization, whoever might match up well with the content of your book. Libraries, college societies, or groups that help children, the homeless, or hospitals are good places to look. They’ll be psyched to get a little extra cash and some attention, and you’ll get some word of mouth and good press, plus it gives readers an extra “feel good” reason to buy your book. It’s a win-win-win. A few people mentioned this tip, including Dan Blank and Chuck Sambuchino, two of the best platform and self-promotion specialists in the biz.