CCL Writers Conference 2011- A Wealth of Information-Part 2

Hey guys! I’ve been under the weather for the last few days and unable to post the second part of my conference blog. Still not feeling so great, but I made a promise and I intend to keep it!

Earlier this week I focused on information regarding self-publishing. This next part focuses on marketing, writing in general and illustrations.

The first author to speak was  motivational speaker, author and entrepreneur, Angela Lewis. She is the self-published author of Single Sensational Significant Sisters We Sizzle, a book about building self-esteem and self-awareness for young women. She has a background in sales and accounting for UPS, Pitney Bowes, Pepsi Cola and other Fortune 500 companies for the past fifteen years. She took the time to share ways she was paid to learn about marketing and how those concepts can help self-published authors market their books. 


After month and years of working hard to get your story to the finish line and ready to be published, the hard copy is in your hands. Now what? What do we as authors have to do to drive the readers to our finished product? Mrs. Lewis offered a workshop entitled Ten Sizzling Ways to Market Your Book. I will share the highlights.

  • Have a marketing plan. Outline the steps you will take to sell your book. Who is your book geared toward? Who is your target audience? Know what it is about your book that makes you stand out from the rest.
  • Establish your network. Don’t shy away from letting people you know aware that you are selling your book. Word of mouth is the most effective and inexpensive means of advertising. People like to buy things from people that they know and respect.
  • Get your book on bookstore shelves. Aim for local bookstores, establish yourself as a local author and ask for their support. Let them know that you want to make sure they don’t encounter any loss and that your book is returnable if the customer is not satisfied. Even though your book may be priced higher than what they normally sell their books for, be willing to discount your book to match their prices. If your goal is to put your book in major stores such as Barnes and Noble or Borders, contact the stores Customer Relations Managers. These stores often hold local author book signing and other community events that will allow you to come and share your work..
  • Join Local Organizations. Local Chamber of Commerce, local art programs. Programs such as these will be great supporters and allow you to promote yourself amongst the members.
  • Collect All Promotional Information. Anytime your have been featured in an article, picture or at an event, collect that information to be put on your blog or website. That information will build your credibility as an author. 
  • Social Networking. Take advantage of places like Facebook or Twitter to feature information about yourself and your book. Once again, word of mouth spreads like wildfire!

To learn more about Angela Lewis or request her for speaking engagements, click here

Next was new author, Renita Gibbs. She is an attorney that has become a network marketer and speaker. She has written her first book called Finding Daddy. It is about her thirty-year journey to finding her father who left when she was six-years old.

At the time of this class, her book had been released for forty-five days. Her sales? Over three-hundred copies! How has she done this? She spoke of some of the marketing tools she has used. She now works for the airlines and travels a lot. Whereever she goes, she takes her book. One very creative thing she’s done has been to take her book cover and shrink it down to miniature size, complete with the synopsis on the back. She hands them out to everyone she meets. Whenever she speaks at a church, she takes that same miniature cover, glues Popsicle sticks on the back and turns them into fans, the perfect handout at church functions.

Another tool, a table cloth with the logo sewn on it made by a friend. It matches the colors of her book cover. Anytime she attends a book signing, she uses it and other items she’s gathered matching the theme books as table decorations. Mrs. Gibbs also has a sign that she puts up at book signings that drives traffic to her table. It all folds up neatly into a small bag, which can be carried over her shoulder. 

Another suggestion she made was to put your face on all promotional items, such as fliers and business cards. She highly suggested using Vistaprint. When it comes to sales, she rents a hand held credit card machine through First Data which she keeps on hand when attending book signings or other events. Since a majority of people don’t keep cash on hand, it affords her the opportunity to still make a sell. To learn more about Renita Gibbs and her book, Finding Daddy, click here.

During the lunch break there was another form of writing was on displayed. Music! Local artists performed songs featuring not only the lyrics they had written, but the music they composed as well.

A young group, The Kool Kidz, performed their hit, Kool Kidz, a song which talks about going to school, being confident and getting good grads.

Next up was rapper, Royce DaChoyce performed his single, “Hold You Down“. His song spoke of a man’s love and appreciation for the love of his life. Check out his music here.

Young base player, Kris Caine, a member of the Clayton County Fine Arts Magnet Program Orchestra and Jazz band, demonstrated the use of his instrument in popular music such as hip-hop, rap and pop. KTEK, from 3D Sounds,and Big O, from Tricycle ENT. shared snippets of their music compositions for the crowds approval. Check out KTEK’s blog on the music industry and hear some of his work here. Check out Big O’s music here.

His performance was followed by Immo Stax, rapper, singer, poet and comedian. He did a brief stand up routine, making the crowd laugh before performing a song followed by spoken word. Check out his sound here.

Next published author, Chesya Burke, shared her insights on Writing in General. Mrs. Burke has published over 40 short stories in a wide variety of anthologies and magazines such as The African American National Biography published by Harvard University and Oxford University Press. She also received the 2003 Twilight Tales Award for fiction and an honorable mention in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Science Fiction: 18th Annual Edition.  Mrs. Burke recently published a book entitled, Let’s Play White through Apex Publications. It is a collection of short stories about African-Americans during different historical periods. She also has experience in editing women’s fiction and short stories.

Mrs. Burke shared pointers she’s learned over the past eleven-years as an author. One of the most important things about writing is to have more than just a wonderful story and great characters. The quality of the work is key. She suggested joining a writer’s critique group in order to improve your work. Reading work from other writers that are at your level or more advanced can help you find the areas where you need improvement.

Another thing she suggested is networking with other authors. This can be done by attending writer’s conferences tailored for your genre.Ms. Burke advised attendees to look for local writing events, go online to read other writer’s blogs and joining online networks such as Facebook or Twitter. These are great places to network without it costing a thing. Writing a blog about what you are doing as a writer (such as this one! lol!) is also a great way to network. Sharing ideas and techniques with one another is the best way to grow as a writer. Your network of friends can often lead to writing jobs. If your friend cannot fulfill an assignment, they may be able to offer the opportunity to you and give you the chance to make money. She has been referred for jobs like that have paying $1000.00 for a 5000-word count short story just by by building her network.

Other tips Mrs. Burke shared involved ways of finding an agent when you’re ready to publish your manuscript. AgentQuery.com is a website that allows you to search for agents looking for different genres and their requirements. If you’re not looking to do traditional publishing, make sure you know the different types of self-publishing options that are available. There are publishing companies that publish your work after you pay for it. These houses may have editors, but it is not the same as being published by a traditional publishing house. Others may publish you’re work exactly as presented to them, without doing any editing, which means you get what you pay for. E-publishing allows you upload your book to sites like Amazon/Kindle which makes your work available to people online.

To learn more about Chesya Burke and her book, click here

The final portion of the conference dealt with illustration. Unfortunately, I was unable to stay for the duration of the program. I am able to say that Christopher Neal does wonderful work. If you read my previous blog about Mr. George Wilson and his children’s books, take a moment to go back and look at the featured book covers. Mr. Neal did the artwork. For more samples of his work, click here

That wraps it up for the Destination: Writer’s Conference at the Clayton County Library Headquarters. It is my understanding there will be another one held sometime in October. Believe me, I will be there and will  share more information with you all. I hope you enjoyed it!

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