I’ll be appearing at some conferences this month if you wanna come see me!
Indie Book Fest in Orlando (Altamonte Springs), Florida on Friday October 7 and 8
Yes, that’s this weekend – if the hurricane doesn’t smash the hotel – and
The Florida Writer’s Association conference in Orlando October 19-23.
At BOTH conferences I’ll be sitting on panels and dispensing valuable advice to writers. So come on out and see me and the other lecturers!
I’ve gone to conferences in the past as an attendee and written my thoughts about them – the are networking opportunities (click HERE for that), or giving you my thoughts on the pros and cons of book fairs, which are often part of a conference (click HERE for that), or how writing is really just a part of what a writer does (click HERE and HERE for that).
On occasion when YOU go to a writing conference, I’d like to invite you to do a guest blog post about the experience. Not all conferences are the same, and what you take away from each one will be different from someone else who attends. Reading various authors’ thoughts will give others insights into whether they should attend a writing conference, and how to best benefit from doing so.
Today, Kim Bailey Deal takes us up on the offer, talking about what she saw and learned at the conference she recently attended. Emphasis added here and there by me.
Tribe Writers and Online Marketers Conference 2016
With Jeff Goins, Franklin, TN, September 16-18
A couple of weeks ago I attended my first conference related to my writing career.
Although it was a hybrid writer’s/online marketing conference, much of what I learned that weekend was pertinent to my author platform and seeing my writing as a business.
Dan invited me to write about my experience and share this with you on his blog. I’m delighted to be here to impart some key elements about marketing your online content and business within your author platform.
Session One: Honing Your Voice
As writers, most of us know the importance of developing and honing our authorial voice within our work. However, many don’t realize that honing your marketing voice is just as important.
I know, we are artists.
Marketing and selling ourselves, and our product, is downright uncomfortable.
Statistics assert that most writers are also introverts. Our energies are depleted when interacting with people. Even if we are good at it, we find it exhausting and miserable at times. What do you do when something isn’t fun or it sucks the life out of you? If you’re like me, you avoid it.
You keep hearing, “Write for yourself, even if no one reads it.”
But let’s be honest. You want someone to read your writing at some point, right? Some of us have invested a lot of hours building a website and blog to do just that, but we aren’t getting paid for it. How long can you pay the mortgage or buy groceries with that mindset?
In order for others to read your work, you have to connect with like-minded people who see the world the same way, and who care about the same things. You want an audience.
The first step to garnering the attention your words deserve is to hone your voice.
But, Kim, how do I do that?
Emily Freeman, Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Simply Tuesday, Grace for the Good Girl, and A Million Little Ways, says the first step to honing your voice is tapping into your authenticity. She says
you must identify three essential keys for paying attention to your voice:
- Frustration: What if what’s bothering you was the most revolutionary question you could ask?
- Passion: What makes you cry? Tears are tiny messengers, here is where your heart beats strong.
- Hope: We all need people who write with hope. It’s the oxygen.
Marion Roach Smith, former staff member of The New York Times, who contributed to Prevention, The Daily News, Vogue, Newsday, Good Housekeeping, Martha Stewart Living, Discover and The Los Angeles Times, authored a book called The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing—and Life as well as several other books. She expounded on honing one’s voice with the elements of argument and her formula:
- The Five Ginsu Knife Benefits of Memoir Writing
- You must be present and in the moment when you write. You have to be a Zen master.
- You have to play hurt. No matter how you feel, you have to do it. Everyday.
- Develop and hone a fully funded curiosity.
- Never read your stuff to This is especially important in memoir.
- Determine what it is you are actually trying to say, to be To do this you must have a reliable narrator, with truths to tell.
- The Formula: X as Illustrated by Y to be told in Z.
- Here is where you write three acts. What is it about? It’s not about you, but an illustration of what happened.
- What are you arguing? Write with intent.
- What did you do with it? Show transcendence.
Some of you may already be at this stage. We will call this Writer 2.0. Some of you may still be at Writer .5 or 1.0. It doesn’t matter. Here’s what you need to know next.
Session Two: Establishing Your Platform, Amplifying Your Voice
I began blogging with intent a year ago after I participated in Robert Lee Brewer’s 2015 October Platform Challenge on writersdigest.com.
Although I have written most all my life, I had no idea how to hone my voice.
Although I have written most all my life, and along the way attended college and taken some creative writing courses, I had no idea how to hone my voice. So, stabbing in the dark, I wrote. And I wrote. And I wrote.
The author Platform Challenge helped me to learn about building a following for said writing via social media. I got serious and put my puny blog on WordPress and bought a domain. I began to follow experts. Authors, editors, agents, other bloggers like Dan who have been out here a while and know the ropes. I committed to blogging at least once a week, and figuring out how to identify and hone my voice in the process. I established a central theme. That’s when I named my blog, Breaking the Legacy of Silence. Most of my passion in writing has centered around issues we’ve been taught to keep quiet such as alcoholism, sexual abuse, drug use, divorce, domestic violence, eating disorders, women’s issues, suicide, family dysfunction, depression and anxiety.
Without realizing it, I found an audience. Like I said, I was stabbing in the dark.
Apparently I made some connections. Without even setting up a mailing list (which I will expand on later) I currently have over 300 bloggers following me, and over 2,000 email subscribers.
So imagine what I, and you, could do if we did this on purpose? If we don’t have an audience, our message doesn’t really matter. But here’s the beauty part. Whether you know it or not (like me, duh) you already have influence. Someone is already listening to you. Amplifying your voice (establishing your platform) is building on that.
There is a plethora of tools out there to help us do this. For instance, this blog is one of my tools. I’ve learned to connect my blog with Facebook, my Facebook Author Page, and Twitter to reach a larger audience. Those who “follow” and “like” my page and posts are my audience.
So, going back to writing with intent, we must also amplify with intent.
Many of you know about email lists. I don’t have one yet! But since the Tribe Conference, that is next on my list of things to do.
Some of the email services out there can be pretty costly. It’s all in how you perceive what you’re doing. Is your writing a hobby or a business? If it’s a hobby, then you can stick with the least expensive alternatives and do your thing, happy in your bubble. That’s cool.
But if it’s a business, then you must act like it by investing in it. No business becomes successful without a lot of hard work and, yes, money.
Some email marketing services include:
- Constant Contact
You would have to research them, as I’m doing now, to see which best suits your needs and affordability. If you have under 2,000 email subscribers—better yet—if you have zero, MailChimp is one of the best free services. GetResponse is one of the best paid services if you’re near that 2k limit or above. Both have their pros and cons.
At the Tribe Conference, we were introduced to ConvertKit. They are a comprehensive email marketing service that compartmentalizes all of your subscribers. For instance, if you have some who bought your book, you don’t want to spam them with pitches for it. ConvertKit manages all of those specifics while you sit back and watch your business grow. It isn’t cheap. However, it’s not the most expensive paid service out there.
So educate yourself and decide what works best for you.
Another way to amplify your voice with Podcasts, live videos on Facebook, YouTube, and so many more. You may be wondering, “How would this sell my book(s)?” Have you ever seen your favorite author on Facebook doing a live video? Well, there you go.
Session Three: Expanding Your Reach
It takes time and intention to build a tribe for yourself as a writer. It doesn’t necessarily happen by accident.
This is where networking comes in. You need the help of friends, fans, and patrons to expand your influence and sell books!
Remember, I mentioned earlier about author platform? This is a huge part of it. Not only do you get on social media and start making friends and gaining followers, and get your website up and intentionally blog x times per period, but you also follow and like their work. You read and interact with them. Simply adding followers and gaining friends or follows on Facebook or Instagram and Twitter will NOT expand your reach. It will grow stale. You have to help one another out.
For instance, in Robert Lee Brewer’s challenge, we learned that we can actually approach more well-known authors. He encouraged us to friend and follow them, read their stuff, and comment on it. He also encouraged us to learn how to do expert author interviews. This is a big one, folks.
When you conduct an author interview, not only do you get them in front of your audience, you get in front of theirs. When you post the interview on your blog, they will post it on theirs, and then you have more people reading your work. They have more people reading about their work.
It’s a win/win.
Sharing is key. You must be willing to invest your time and energy into helping out your tribe.
Another key to expansion is being willing to do things like beta reading their work-in-progress and offering helpful feedback and constructive criticism. You also must be willing to ask for others to beta read for you—and accept the suggestions they offer on your work that may help you to become a better writer.
Another way to expand your reach is to pitch to well-known and influential editors, bloggers, and writers to do a guest blog post on their blog or page.
That’s what I’m doing right now. I was invited by Dan, but most of the time you have to pitch your idea. For example, I pitched a guest blog post to Robert Lee Brewer and he accepted it. He put my blog post on his blog, There Are No Rules on writersdigest.com in May of this year. Yes, people. I have blog post on WD!
Finally, what happens as a result of this expansion? Others see your work. After making connections between October 2015 to May 2016, the managing editor of Five 2 One Magazine approached me to see if I would be interested in writing a weekly column for their magazine. I had connected with Sopphey Vance via Robert Lee Brewer in a Facebook group created after another Platform Challenge he had conducted a couple of years before.
Yes, Sopphey approached me. I had no idea he was reading my blog posts, but I was doing what Robert said to do, and posting the hell out of them. It paid off.
This is where Kim went from Writer .5 to Writer 2.0.
However, without directed intent, such as email lists and other marketing techniques, I am still at Marketer .5. I’m not making money off this gig. Yet.
Session Four: Going Pro
Once you’ve honed your voice, established your platform, and expanded your reach, it’s time to talk about how to cash in all your hard work. All of this never goes away. You will continually build on your relationships and grow as a writer, and that is super.
Publishing a message that matters, whether it be a memoir, how-to book, novel, or book of poetry is what you’re aiming for now.
Shawn Coyne, author of The Story Grid, and a 25-year veteran of the book-publishing industry, says this is the stage of deliberate practice.
- Be so good they can’t ignore you.
- Be constantly on the edge of what you know, learning never stops
- Plan to fail. It will happen.
- Keep a short feedback window. Blogs, publications, books grow stale after a while. Keep in touch with your readers.
Also, defeat the lie.
- Stop lying to yourself about your work. Does it need to be better? Of course it does. We all must work on improving our craft. Is it worthy of an audience? You bet it is. Don’t let yourself think otherwise.
- To leave this earth without sharing our knowledge and gifts is a tragedy. Don’t let that happen.
So, what does Going Pro mean?
You have to start believing that what you have to say, write, and sell is worthy of you getting paid. What you have to offer is of VALUE.
Carrie Wilkerson is a best-selling author, international speaker, award-winning podcaster, and sought-after radio guest. Her brand is The Barefoot Executive, TM.
You have to monetize what you do. It’s that simple, and that hard.
Fear is the culprit at this stage. I know it has been for me.
Yet, once I realized this is it—I’m at that level where I need to (and should) get paid for what I do—this is my passion + business—then I got serious.
This is where I go back to using email marketing services and other technology to market yourself and your work. You’ve heard the saying, “You get what you pay for.” This holds as true for what you do as it does for anything you currently buy. You go from Marketer .5 to Marketer 2.0!
Some key tips from Carrie:
- Don’t be a perfectionist or be paralyzed by an invisible audience. Unless you are paying me or I am paying you, I don’t hear you!
- Don’t be a transformation hoarder. Your responsibility is to share, not for others to accept. Remember this one when you get your first review on Amazon or Goodreads.
- It’s time to get your ROI, Return on Investment.
Chris Ducker, keynote speaker, and author of the bestseller, Virtual Freedom, says you have to get beyond B2B (business to business) and B2C (business to customer) and start thinking P2P (People to People).
- Relationships should be treasured, not used.
- You’re building a brand. Your brand is YOU, your work, your author voice, your stories, your know-how.
- Balance between passion and profit. Starting almost entirely on passion will most entirely lead to failure.
- At the core, as writers who want to sell books, we are entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are nothing more than problem solvers. For example, let’s say you write a book about Alzheimer’s disease and how it transformed you when you took care of your father-in-law, how you coped, what others can learn from your experience. You’re helping to solve a problem.
- Your brand is what people say about your brand (e.g. you and your books) when you’re not around.
Okay, so there is a lot of information here. I spent three days absorbing some of it, and trying to capture a lot of it in notes.
You can go to Jeff Goins site at www.goinswriter.com to find out more about Tribe and upcoming conferences.
Marion Roach Smith: www.marionroach.com
Carrie Wilkerson: www.carriewilkerson.com
Chris Ducker: www.ChrisDucker.com and on Twitter @ChrisDucker
Kim Bailey Deal writes Women’s Fiction, short stories, poetry, and nonfiction. She has written two novels, now in revision. She authors a weekly column and is Social Media Manager for www.five2onemagazine.com. Kim has several works published, including in Firefly Magazine Issue #3, on Writersdigest.com, Pilcrow & Dagger, Tuck Magazine, The Scarlet Leaf Review, Madness Muse Magazine, Drunk Monkeys, and forthcoming publications in Sick Lit Magazine, The Magnitizdat Literary, and Firefly Magazine Issue #8. A mother of four, she lives with her husband near Chattanooga, TN. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @kimbaileydeal and her blog at www.kimbaileydeal.net
Thanks so much to Kim for sharing these insights!
There’s a LOT here, so read it again and take notes. The conference obviously impacted Kim in a positive way, and she’s taking huge steps forward as a result. Sharing this information will help a lot of people, Kim, so that’s big, too. Thanks!
Readers, what have YOUR experiences been at writing conferences?