The Self-Publishing Conference 2013

Yesterday I was at this event down the road in Leicester. I confess, I wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about an early start on a Sunday in the snow! I’m glad I went though. There was a good atmosphere and I would happily have chatted to people further – a good indicator for an event, and especially one running for the first time.

The conference was put together by the folks at Matador, one of the leading self-publishing service providers. (By which I mean: you take your manuscript and pay for your choice of services to turn it into a book people can buy.) They’d brought in a range of speakers on topics including choosing a self-publishing service provider, printing, marketing, design and ebooks. The programme was all about those sessions: four slots with your choice of three topics, with a panel at the end. Oh, and a rather excellent lunch!


To me it felt like it took a while for participants to get talking to each other – next time a bit of extra structure to facilitate that might be good. Unfortunately everybody wanted to get away quickly at the end because of the weather. Lots of people were commenting that they were getting loads of info though, so the solid learning format was doing its job.

For me, it highlighted how much time I’m spending around people who are savvy about techy stuff and online marketing, and how unusual that is. Folks here were authors: people from a wide range of backgrounds, united by writing or having written a book (mostly fiction novels). Quite a few were older people, drawing on life experience and free time to try something new. Their thing is writing and what’s important is their book. Perhaps it’s their dream to be a published author. For most, the processes and technicalities of self-publishing are a necessary evil they’re prepared to grapple with to make that happen. (If that’s you, I hope you’ll find stuff on this site that helps to make the picture clearer. Feel free to mail me and ask questions.)


Of course I was looking to learn things too. Here are some of the bits I picked up.

  • Half of Americans will have bought an ebook by the end of this year. (And don’t neglect the US market: 5 times as many people as UK.)
  • Some people from a publishing background still think DRM protection is good for ebooks. I remarked that most people in small press publishing and online marketing view it as bad because it annoys the customer without doing much to actually stop piracy (and you shouldn’t get hung up about piracy anyway).
  • Goodreads has become a social network for people who love books, and should be on my radar more.
  • NetGalley, a service for providing you book to journalists, libraries, etc in advance, is worth exploring as a possible promotion tool.
  • Start social media as early as possible. (My expansion of this one – because people want to do business with people. You’re trying to build a profile so that people know, like and trust you. Then when you do have your book ready they’ll be more likely to buy it.)
  • And finally, the rather delightful saying relayed by Helen Corner in relation to dealing with feedback: “If ten Russians say you’re drunk, lie down!”


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