Members T. Lee Harris, Samantha Lopez and Marian Allen attended Marcon Alternative Realities Convention in Columbus, Ohio over Memorial Day weekend. We had proposed several panels, and two were accepted. To our surprise, we were the only panelists for both of them. The surprise was far from unpleasant: panels have a way of drifting away from the subject if they get too large.
The first panel was Blogging 4 Writers. T. Lee and Marian have blogs (Marian’s is the same as her web site). Samantha Lopez didn’t, but set one up through her iPhone right in front of the audience, showing how easily it can be done. It remains to be seen whether or not she’ll make use of it, but she does have one, and she set up the basic reality of it in a minute or so.
Our next panel was the following day: Kindle, Smashwords, POD and Other Dirty Words. Again, there were just the three of us, although we were fortunate enough to have Steven Saus in the audience, and we drafted him as a Floor Panelist. T. Lee is the Artistic Director and Production Supervisor of the vast Southern Indiana Writers Group publishing empire, which makes Citizen Kane’s look like a garage start-up.
Okay, that last bit was patently untrue, but T. Lee is the AD & PS for SIW, and has produced and published her own work electronically and in print in addition to her professional sales and has helped other members of SIW into electronics and print. Marian Allen has electronically self-published collections of her own short stories, some of which previously appeared in print or in on-line magazines, some of which were original to those collections. Samantha is on the verge, and served as an interviewer for the panel.
The takeaway was that it isn’t difficult to self-publish, but it isn’t a snap, either. Three things are crucial: produce content you love or think is important, have it rigorously edited for clarity and technical correctness (spelling, punctuation, grammar, capitalization), and follow the formatting directions for whatever format or location you use to distribute the work. Kindle and Smashwords each have style guides, and Marian handed out a paper including her own experience with digital publishing and a demystification of the style guides.
And here is a link to Steven Saus’ blog, where he tells you all about creating your own digital document. Steven favors distributing your own work as well as publishing it, because more of the money flows to you that way.
We did a reading, of course, and signings. We met many wonderful people (including a steampunk baby) and had many delightful conversations.
Next stop: FandomFest in Louisville, Kentucky in July!