Opportunity Within a Tribe

Jeremy Flagg, Trish Heinrich, Chrishaun Keller Hanna

It’s not always what you know, but who you know. This is a line that has stuck in my head since I started my publishing journey. I’m not so much an introvert, but I am a solitary person by nature and prefer my quiet space over interacting with others. The idea of going to conferences is both humbling and exhilarating. For the second year, I’ve gone to Chicago to be part of the Sell More Book Show Summit, a conference designed to focus on networking and marketing for indie authors. For the second year, I’ve walked away with my creative well overflowing and my work ethic realigned. I can not recommend a conference like this enough. You can expect to drop about a thousand dollars between airfare, hotels, registration and food. The focus of networking and bringing together indie authors along with industry big names has has made this conference well worth the expense. The ability to ask professionals questions that pertain to my personal author business is extremely beneficial, to the point where a simple dinner conversation turned marketing helped outline my release schedule for the rest of the year. Tidbits are more like juicy mouthfuls of information I’m still digesting days later. But I could rave all day, so instead, let me punch out what a conference like this can do for you:

  1. Shop Talk – We’re used to Facebook Groups and message boards, but being able to ask questions in a timely conversational manner is amazing. There’s no worry about being misread or hoping they caught the inflection of your email. Conversation jumps from how your revenue has been to what you hope to accomplish to paving a path to reach your goal. There is a candid factor to in person communication that online lacks. This may be partly from the permanence of online chatter, but also because it creates a more intimate affair.
  2. Favor Purchases – “Can I ask a favor,” is not only common, but not perceived as the dirty phrase it comes across online. Once I got the gumption to talk to a well known author (seriously, this happened at least a dozen times) we’d exchange favors. It could be me offering to share something of theirs to the group or with peers, or me asking if they’d read over a blurb. It was so fluid that you had to start writing them down. The benefit of a conference like this, successful authors attend and they’re more than happy to give back to their community. Respect and courtesy are used as currency and more often than not, pooled resources make for a better experience in the professional world.
  3. Synergy – Everybody at these conferences wants to succeed. It’s not about grand standing, throwing out credentials and comparing income from one author to the next. Even the most successful author will talk about their next step. It’s about helping everybody take whatever that next step is for them. It doesn’t matter if it’s publishing a first manuscript or attempting to make your first six-figure year. The energy builds as people realize there is hope, and with that hope comes a push to work harder. Since the conference, I’ve hardly slept, I’m too busy being excited and putting the information to work. Every time I share with the group a new success, it’s like a perpetual party urging to take it one step further.
  4. More than Writing – Sure, we talked everything from marketing to formatting to healthy sustainable habits. However, these conferences are where you can make some amazing connections. The first year, somebody told me, “How bad do you want it?” and when I commented on my day job she replied with, “Sounds like you’re making excuses.” I’ve taken that to heart for a year. Not only has it remained in the back of my head, it has helped fuel my motivation in life. I was able to speak with numerous talents and ask them personal questions about work/life balance, and even techniques to help ease the strain on my hands. Ultimately, I was able to ask half a dozen individuals if they’d be interested in a small conference in Maine (to which several said yes.) Because of this event, I’ve bought good will with large name companies and even had the ability to ask one for a personal favor (see #2.)
  5. Collaboration – I claim to be a hermit, but my best work has been at the pushing of others. This year I had the opportunity to meet my “book wife” for the first time in person. We’ve been collaborating for over a year now and she has been a driving force behind my superhero series. However, it took on a new life when we finally sat down together. From strolling through a freezing city, to mapping out our own series, to creating a consortium for authors, we didn’t have a moment of down time. Could we have gotten there digitally? Perhaps. But the infectious laughter, funny stories, and ultimately, our determination to push back a stampede in the industry left me better than when we started. Without the in person interaction, I’ll be frank, digital people don’t always appear real to me, I’m not sure I would be going so hard to achieve a dream.

Now for a bit of technical information that I think is important for people to consider. I highly suggest everybody attend a conference, but make sure it serves you. Here are some details for the Sell More Book Show that I had to consider:

  1. Cost – $400 Registration + $350 Flight + $200 Hotel + $25 Ubers + $20 Public Transit + $80 Food + $75 Logan Parking = $1,150.
    1. This is a tax write off and I claim it all.
    2. I had a great conversation with some Erotica authors who gave me a marketing suggestion that I believe will make me back the entire conference cost.
    3. Had it not been for my job, I’d stay for an extra day to enjoy the city.
  2. Timing – This is both literal and journey wise. I would promptly attend 20Booksto50K in Vegas each year, but my day job prevents it. Thankfully I’ll be attending 20Booksto50K in Scotland this summer. I also think you have to be realistic about where you are in your journey. I have a large enough back catalog to utilize many of these suggestions instantly. I can see a return on investment promptly. It could very well be useful to a new author, but the ROI might not be seen simply in $$$.
  3. Need a Game Plan – This is pretty simple. What do you want from the conference? It’s not up to the people at the conference to provide it. You’re an adult, go get it. I sat down and talked to half a dozen potential speakers for Convergence. It was part of my game plan to lock down a few names for 2020. I also needed help with a launch strategy I was struggling with. Over dinner, I laid out my plan and several authors picked it apart and helped me restructure into something much more cohesive. I knew what I needed, I reached out, I received. It was all part of my plan walking into this event.

Whatever your goal for a conference, make it happen. Not every author can afford the luxury and for some people it’s simply not part of their business model. There’s no harm in that, and I’m not suggestion you rework it for a conference. However, if there’s a chance a conference can help you step up and bring your A-Game. Then I absolutely would suggest it. For those interested, the Sell More Book Show Summit is becoming The Career Author Summit held in Nashville and you can now reserve your Early Bird Tickets.

NESWC Presenter – Jeremy Flagg

New England Speculative Writers Conference Presentation

Discovering & Maintaining Your Followers

April 13, 2019 | Portland Maine

Mailing lists have become the gold standard for connecting with fans, but we’re already seeing a drop in efficiency due to “mail fatigue.” We spend valuable time cultivating our fans, so how do we maintain our mailing lists while avoiding over saturating our readers with too much mail? How do we reduce costs and maximize engagement? Jeremy Flagg, author of the Children of Nostradamus Series will go through techniques to promote engagement and explore alternatives to newsletters, as well as discuss what types of engagement work best for different types of fans.

Jeremy Flagg is the author of the CHILDREN OF NOSTRADAMUS dystopian science fiction series and SUBURBAN ZOMBIE HIGH young adult humor/horror series. Taking his love of pop culture and comic books, he focuses on fast paced, action packed novels with complex characters and contemporary themes.

Jeremy is the Co-Founder of New England Speculative Writers and member of the Metrowest Writers writing group. He is also an active member of the New England Horror’s Association.

Jeremy spends most of his free time at his desk writing snarky books. When he gets a moment away from writing, he watches too much Netflix and Hulu and reads too many comic books. Jeremy, a Maine native, resides in Clinton, Massachusetts and can be found in local coffee shops pounding away at the keyboard.

For more information about Jeremy, visit www.remyflagg.com.

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NESWC Presenter – Paul Kilpatrick

New England Speculative Writers Conference Presentation

Building a Partnership with Beta Readers

April 13, 2019 | Portland Maine

Beta readers can be one of the strongest craft tools in developing stories into great works of fiction. However, cultivating and managing these readers can be time consuming, frustrating, and result in unproductive feedback. Co-Creator of BetaBooks, Paul Kilpatrick will discuss how his platform can help create and manage rich partnerships with your beta readers, while saving you time. He will also lend his expertise and experience working with beta readers to suggest how best to utilize fans to help create a polished final project.

Paul Kilpatrick has enjoyed working in the comic book industry, video games, publishing, music, and film filling various support roles including being an editor, project manager, coordinator, stage manager and assistant director, tons of logistics fun. As the co-founder of BetaBooks Paul has helped thousands of authors beta their book, many of whom are discovering the process for the first time. He enjoys jigsaw puzzles and has recently been watching the tv show Yonderland.

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NESWC Presenter – Christine Munroe

New England Speculative Writers Conference Presentation

Expanding Distribution to International Markets

April 13, 2019 | Portland Maine

In a global digital market, international sales can increase an author’s bottom line. Navigating foreign markets brings with it a list of unique challenges, and reaching global readers can feel overwhelming. Director of Kobo Writing Life, Christine Munroe, joins us in a digital presentation to explain how authors can maximize their opportunities by expanding their reach beyond the United States and what they can do to grow their international sales.

This presentation will be provided digitally to all attendees. 

Christine Munroe is the Director of Kobo Writing Life, Kobo’s fast, free, and easy self-publishing platform that helps authors reach millions of Kobo readers around the world. Christine has worked in book publishing for over a decade, dedicating her career to helping authors make a living from their writing.

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NESWC Presenter – Amanda Kahl

New England Speculative Writers Conference Presentation

Connecting & Growing Artist Partnerships

April 13, 2019 | Portland Maine

Cover art is one of the most important elements when it comes to book selling, but does the partnership end at book covers? Are there other areas where art can enrich your brand and help build a visual presence? For those brave enough to explore comic tie-ins, how does writing a novel differ from a script and what should you consider when selecting your artist? Amanda Kahl, author and artist of the webcomic, Age of Night, will discuss how to establish a connection with your artist and utilize their talents while exploring visual outlets for your brand that goes beyond cover work.

Amanda Kahl is the primary writer and sole artist for the ongoing fantasy webcomic Age of Night. Amanda also works as a freelance illustrator, primarily in the tabletop gaming industry, and has provided illustrations for projects from Gallant Knight Games, Skirmisher Publishing, Fearlight Games, the City of Bangor, and many more. She lives deep in the woods of Maine and works from her home studio between raising children, gardens, and chickens. 

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NESWC Presenter – E.J. Stevens

New England Speculative Writers Conference Presentation

Expanding Your Brand at In-Person Events

April 13, 2019 | Portland Maine

In-person events such as conventions and conferences are excellent opportunities to get you and your books out to the public, but are you making the most of the event? Any author can reserve table space at a convention, but maximizing your potential at a convention doesn’t end with hard sales. Award winning convention guru, E.J. Stevens will reveal not only how to increase your earning potential as a vendor but also how to expand your author business by participating in panels.

E.J. Stevens is the bestselling, award-winning author of the Ivy Granger Psychic Detective urban fantasy series, the Spirit Guide young adult paranormal mystery series, the Hunters’ Guild urban fantasy series, and the Whitechapel Paranormal Society Victorian horror series. She is known for filling pages with quirky characters, bloodsucking vampires, psychotic faeries, and snarky, kick-butt heroines. Her novels are available worldwide in multiple languages.

In addition to fiction, Stevens has written two books in the Super Simple series of step-by-step guides. The series covers the basics of publishing and marketing. 

BTS Red Carpet Award winner for Best Novel, Imadjinn Award winner for Best Short Story, Raven Award winner for Best Urban Fantasy, SYAE finalist for Best Paranormal Series, Best Novella, and Best Horror, winner of the PRG Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Paranormal Fantasy Novel, Best Young Adult Paranormal Series, Best Urban Fantasy Novel, and finalist for Best Young Adult Paranormal Novel and Best Urban Fantasy Series.

When E.J. isn’t at her writing desk, she enjoys dancing along seaside cliffs, singing in graveyards, and sleeping in faerie circles. E.J. currently resides in a magical forest on the coast of Maine where she finds daily inspiration for her writing. Learn more at www.EJStevensAuthor.com.

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