CWC Treasurer and passionate advocate of Independent Publishing, Elizabeth Ducie, has been on her travels once again. This week she tells us about her recent visit to Leicester for the 7th annual Self-Publishing Conference run by Matador, the self-publishing arm of Troubador Publishing.
“Although this is the seventh year Matador has run this conference, it’s only the second time I’ve attended, having previously been there in 2017. It’s a one-day event, run in the modern conference facilities of Stamford Court, University of Leicester. It attracts a couple of hundred delegates from across the UK and beyond, and while many of the sessions are aimed at relative newcomers to self-publishing, the keynote speaker is always a major figure in the industry, and the networking is pretty good too. This year I went up the night before and had dinner with three other writers I had previously ‘met’ via Facebook. It was great to put faces to names and we talked all things writerly non-stop throughout the evening.
This year’s keynote was delivered by Orna Ross, Founder-Director of the Alliance of Independent Authors. I should declare an interest here, as I am an ALLi member, but it’s the best investment I make in my writing business each year: with free copies of all self-publishing manuals;access to a great directory of approved service providers and an effective Watchdog scheme; an active members’ forum where there’s always someone who can answer your burning questions; and much, much more.
Orna’s speech was entitled The Rise of the Indie Author. I suspect she shocked some of the members of the audience when she began by announcing ‘I don’t do Power Point; you do paper and pencil.’ But it certainly made a refreshing change and reminded me of the days when we used to have to take notes in lectures, before we started being spoon-fed. If there’s a presentation in front of us, and especially if we know the slides will be made available afterwards, it’s much too easy to switch off and lose concentration. But not so in this case.
Orna began with a whistle-stop tour of Self-Publishing 1.0 (brought about by the advent of Desk Top Publishing in the 1990s) and Self-Publishing 2.0 (the arrival of Amazon, ebooks, and ereaders in the late 2000s) before moving on the the latest phase, Self-Publishing 3.0, which puts the author at the centre, with books being sold from our own website. Then she moved on the key phases for an indie author (after the writing is finished): making the book; selling the book; and rights sales. She reinforced the message that we can’t do everything ourselves; it’s about teamwork. But that the author is the team leader. And two wonderful quotes I noted down: ‘marketing is writing and writing is marketing’ (which we all know, but sometimes try to ignore). And one for the older members of the audience: ‘Indie authors are like Bob Dylan; we’re on permanent tour!’
Throughout the day, there were four sets of break-out sessions, covering all different aspects of the self-publishing world. I attended a Masterclass on Social Media, led by Alexa Davies and Sophie Morgan, two very young Matador staff members. I didn’t learn a huge amount, as I am fairly social media savvy, but it’s always useful to hear about the latest trends. And I was amused to hear the 35-45 age group described as ‘an older audience’. The session by Morgen Bailey on Podcasting for Profitability was very interesting, but convinced me this was NOT a route I wanted to take. Ben Cameron’s session Creating Some Noise: Using Publicity to Sell Books provided a really useful checklist of all the channels we should be addressing. And the session on Using a blog tour to reach readers not only gave me the chance to finally meet blogger Anne Cater in the flesh, but also provided some background facts and figures on this growing publicity tool.
The final session of the day was a panel discussion with author’s Jane Corry, Stephen Booth and Angelena Boden all talking about their various routes through traditional and/or self-publishing. and answering questions from the audience.
You can find out more about the annual Self-Publishing Conference on their website: https://selfpublishingconference.org.uk/, including the sessions I didn’t manage to attend and if you check out the Resource Centre, you can find some of the presentation material available to download. Plus there’s details of next year’s event.”