One Stop Self-Publishing Conference 2010 – Review (Part Two)

The afternoon session of the One Stop Self-Publishing Conference began with a keynote address by Benji Bennett, author and self-publisher of Before You Sleep, the first of a series of books inspired by Adam, his four year old son he lost as a result of a brain tumour. If there is one thing Benji Bennett’s keynote address underlined—it was not so much about a message about self-published books—rather that books can be a celebration of what we hold dear and believe in.

Benji Bennett announced his good and bad news about self-publishing:

“The good news is; self-publishing can be the easiest thing in the world to do…but the bad news is; you won’t sell many books!”

Again, Bennett repeated the mantra for the day; self-publishing is a business, and you have to use professionals, and be prepared to work hard and promote your book. Bennett used the award-winning Cartoon Studio to design his first book, and he felt the key to his success was achieving proper distribution and using a PR agency.
John Manning is director of Gill & Macmillan Distribution and he explained the importance of book distribution in Ireland and that they have currently 45 publishers on their lists. In his experience he believes publishers want a one-stop distribution service, and booksellers want as few different accounts as possible to deal with. Again, like Adrian White from Dubray books, he is open to listing and distributing self-published books of quality.
Catherine Ryan Howard went to work for a year in Disneyland and decided to write a book called Mousetrap about her experience on her return. She talked about the power of social networking at the conference. I don’t know of anyone more bubbly and infectious to talk about the subject and the importance of networking for self-published authors. Catherine created Catherine Caffeinated, her blog, and used CreateSpace to publish her book. If anyone couldn’t be encouraged or inspired to start a blog or create a Twitter or Facebook account after Catherine’s informative piece, then, frankly, they never will!
From my own experience of social networking, the key is that networking allows a writer to being locally within their own community of friends, but very quickly expand beyond that into communities who might otherwise never have heard of you or your book. The real beauty and success of network communities as a tool of promotion and reaching your potential readers is that you are often only once or twice removed from the people you really want to reach out to and connect.
Eoin Purcell ended the conference with a look at digital publishing, and I would highly endorse his recommendation that Smashwords as a starting point for any self-publishing author is a pretty strong starting point because of its distribution reach (Kindle, iPad, Nook) and opportunities on a whole host of digital sales platforms. His only bedbug with Smashwords was that every book carries the company’s branding. Personally, that shouldn’t be a problem, as such, for an author new to self-publishing, but while branding may not matter early on, it can be critical further down the road. Whatever we feel about the online powerhouse that is Amazon, Purcell noted:

“The Amazon Kindle in 2006 gave ebooks real identification and also created the connection and discussion on cheaper pricing.”

In Ireland, ebooks remain in their infancy, and it is still impossible to really measure the market – that is – how many people are buying ebooks in markets outside of Ireland? Purcell pointedly and rightly hones in on a very important factor on this side of the pond.

“The Amazon Kindle Euro Platform may very well kick-start the real sales of ebooks here.”

I certainly hope the One Stop Self-publishing Conference returns next year, larger and with more of an international flavour to it. The efforts alone of its organisers this year should make it an annual visit for many.

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