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Fifth Self-Publishing Conference

Published: 27 Apr 2017   updated: 8 May 2017

Carolyn Hughes tells us abut her recent attendance at the Self-Publishing Conference.


This was my second Self-Publishing Conference at University of Leicester. Last year I went with the express objective of trying to decide whether or not to self-publish my historical novel, Fortune’s Wheel. To be honest, I was sceptical about self-publishing but, having approached a few agents with both this novel and another, not without some positive feedback, I’d still found no-one to
take me on.

Looking at SilverWood’s list of possible reasons to self-publish, I’d warmed to the one that says: 'I can’t afford to wait for a mainstream publisher to show interest, but want to get my work into readers hands quickly’. I did indeed want to get on with it! But was self-publishing some sort of flimflam? And, if not, how would I go about it? I had to find out...

To cut a long story short, at last year’s conference I listened carefully and talked to others, and at length I was convinced that self-publishing was at the very least worth a try. Later, after a bit more debate with myself about whether to go it alone or get help from professionals, I chose the latter route and am now very happily published with SilverWood.

So why bother to go to the conference again this year? Well, because my needs have moved on... Now I need to know how to market my published novel.

Interestingly, the first speaker asked for a show of hands from those in the audience who were already self-published. It was around seventy per cent. I was proud to be among them! But I was also mildly surprised that so many published authors - many, I discovered, with multiple self-published books - had come to the conference again. Perhaps they too needed a better understanding of marketing?

So what did I learn? Sadly, not much that I hadn’t already gleaned from books or online forums...but I did hear that e-book sales are plateauing - a boon, apparently, for genre fiction (yay!) - and that audio books are on the rise (note to self for later). I was pleased that indie authors dominate Amazon’s top selling e-books list, and with full-price books, not just discounted ones. In a marketing session, we were presented with a list of the essential tools, the usual things: traditional media, social media, blogging, guest tours, price promotions, advertising in various forms, mailing lists, festivals and local events. I was delighted to find I’m already doing much of what he suggested, although I’m not doing everything nor, yet, enough of anything. A man from Nielsen BookData told us about the importance of 'metadata’ but, if you publish with SilverWood, they’ll (thankfully) handle all that kind of thing for you.

An inspiring session came from writer Marion Molteno, a self-publisher since the early 90s - well, it was inspiring for me, because I, like Marion, don’t expect to make my fortune from publishing. Like her, I simply want people to read my books. Marion told us how she did it. It wasn’t the blockbuster route! But, for me, her story resonated.

So, should you go to the next Self-Publishing Conference? As so often, it’s meeting other people that can prove so useful. Snippets of advice you pick up from other authors, connections you make that might lead to longer term friendships... Just being in a room full of people who’ve either self-published, want to, or can help you do it is a very good reason for going.

Want to know more...?
Carolyn Hughes is the author of Fortune's Wheel. You can find out more about her and her book here, and connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.