Way back in May, a few short months after my manuscript was accepted for publication by She Writes Press, I received an invitation to attend an all female authors retreat in November in Carefree, Arizona. How could I say no?
I’m just back from an exhilarating 4 days in one of the more beautiful locations on Earth, along with a most intelligent, motivating and supportive community. Although my memoir doesn’t come out in print until April, 2019, I feel launched.
Good thing, because I came home to NYC with four pages of to-do’s based on all I learned during my time there. Tasks that include subscribing to bookbub.com (which I’d never heard of), finding out the submission deadline to be considered for review by PW (Publishers Weekly), and creating a schedule for myself to read through content and watch videos on our Secret SWP Authors site. And on and on…
Brooke Warner is the publisher who founded She Writes Press. She kicked off the conference with a talk that helped explain her dedication to female writers. She calls writing a book a “big brave thing” which got heads nodding throughout the room. Of course, she writes too and shared that her current project included a subtitle that didn’t fit on the cover. Loved her humility sharing that!
Though it was palpable to all in attendance, Brooke talked about how central community is to the publishing process. I’ve written two other books and NEVER met another author who’d also published with those institutions. SWP is all about having us know and support each other.
Jesmyn Ward was the keynote speaker on Friday night and also offered a writing workshop for us Saturday morning. We were each given a copy of her National Book Award winning novel Sing, Unburied, Sing. I can sum up her appearance in one word: inspiring.
Katie Donelan, the head of partner relations at bookbub.com explained her platform’s strategies including how hard authors need to work (a constant theme) to woo readers. “Our favorite authors,” she said, “are those willing to walk over hot coals to meet two readers.” Of their 15,000,000 readers, 76% are women. Many of their subscribers read between a book a day – POWER READERS – to a book a week. It’s in any author’s interest to learn more about this valuable resource. Re bad online reviews, Katie quoted an author who sold 24 million copies [of her book] saying “You’re not a real author until you’ve received a 1 star review.”
The audience favorite over the weekend was the panel of Author Ambassadors, our sister SWP published authors, who sat on stage and shared their best practices, moderated by Brooke. Each gave her own tips and tricks for publishing success. The strategies ranged from having a kick-ass website for your book to bringing swag to readings at bookstores. “Bring flowers for the bookstore owners!” another advised.
I know I don’t have to memorize all the information because our secret authors’ Facebook page is rich with those details and can be accessed throughout this journey. Plus, the discussion threads allow me to ask any current questions of this enlightened group.
Among the multitude of great thrills over the weekend was seeing the poster for the 20 Spring ’19 books SWP will have available with mine top and center. The centerpieces on each roundtable were beautiful apothecary jars with labels for each of our titles. Here are two views of mine.
I could go on, but will end with our final gathering which was, appropriately, storytelling around a blazing campfire where each author read a two minute excerpt from her book.
I wish each of you who would like to get started on that book you’ve been wanting to write an exciting journey and the good fortune to find a publisher as receptive and generous as She Writes Press.