Top 10 Takeaways: Antoinette Kuritz, Founder of the La Jolla Writer’s Conference

Last night I attended the monthly meeting of the San Diego Writers and Editors Guild. The guest speaker was Antoinette Kuritz, founder of the La Jolla Writer’s Conference. She spoke about a wide variety of subjects related to writing, publishing and marketing, packing in a ton of information in just an hour. Here are my Top 10 Takeaways:

  1. Use both CreateSpace and Ingram Spark when publishing your book in print. CS gets your book on Amazon, and IS gets it into bookstores, where you can then start approaching local stores to do signings.
  2. Define your audience. Who do you see reading your book? Females purchase about 85% of books, including books read by men. Parents are the ones buying YA and children’s books; sell to the mothers, not the kids.
  3. Know the timeline to publication and your role throughout. Know how and when PR and marketing come in, as well as whether or not special sales will play any role (i.e. groups buying your book in bulk at discounted rates). If signing a traditional publishing contract, make sure you get more than 10 copies of your book so you can send them out for reviews. Ask for these up front, and present a detailed marketing plan so you’ll be sure to get as many books as you need.
  4. Write a book proposal – even if you are self-publishing! Would you go into any other business without a plan? No! So write the book proposal, which is your business plan, and then stick to it. Write your bio, which explains why you’re the right person to write this book; research your competition – who writes books like this, how are you the same and different as an author, and how did they become successful?
  5. If you buy media or blogger lists, use them within a week or two at the most, particularly because media outlet staff (especially TV) have high turnover. And understand your potential reach: if a blogger with 100,000 followers reviews your book, about 10,000 of their readers might be interested and read the review, of those maybe 1,000 will go to your website, and if it’s kickass maybe 100 of those will buy the book. Now imagine a blogger with 5 MILLION followers. You’ll sell many more books if you can get this person to review your book.
  6. Your website has to be really good! It’s an investment you have to make – look at other writers who are successful and see what they have that resonates. Definitely have your bio, synopsis of your book(s), and chapters of at least the newest book, if not all of them. If readers get through three chapters of your book, they will very likely buy, so include chapters on your website and have a BUY button right at the end to make it easy for them to do so. Don’t let your website be stagnant, follow the 72 hour rule.
  7. Amazon reviewers are the booksellers of today. If you can get them to review your book, that will help boost your sales. People follow Amazon reviewers they like and trust; aim for the Top Reviewers.
  8. Schedule your writing time, and don’t feel guilty about it. Concentrate on one project at a time, and finish it. If you need help, hire a book coach – you will meet with this person weekly, and have to produce a certain number of pages. If you can’t afford a book coach, join a writer’s group, as you’ll still have to produce a certain number of pages regularly.
  9. Find a conference that works for you. The best conferences focus on the art and craft of writing as well as the business side. Make sure there are successful writers teaching there, that you can meet the agents and editors, and there are classes – not just panel discussions. Read and critique classes with editors and agents are best, as they will get to hear you read aloud from your work, and may request more.
  10. Define your messaging. Think of your book as the hub of a wheel. Think of all the topics you can speak to that even tangentially touch your book – these are the spokes of the wheel. Ultimately, the media doesn’t care about your book. When you’re on TV or the radio, you need to be edutainment: be entertaining and have personality, not just say “you can read more about this in my book!” You can be an expert or authority on whatever your book is about – or on writing and the publishing industry.

I must admit, Antoinette’s speech has given me a lot of ideas, particularly since I’ve been pondering whether or not to attend one of the local writer’s conferences here in San Diego.

The La Jolla Writer’s Conference is coming up in November (it takes place November 11-13, 2016), so I am curious to see who will be on the faculty. At $395 for three days (with options to attend one day only, at various reduced rates), this conference typically appears to be jam-packed with classes and workshops – much different than the overwhelming number of panel discussions offered by other conferences – so it’s on my list. And if all of the speakers in attendance are as knowledgeable and well-spoken as Antoinette, it’d be well worth the price of admission.

What about you?

Have you ever attended a writer’s conference? What did you get out of the experience, and was it worthwhile?

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