Notes From A High Level Writers Group

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Once a month, I attend a writers group in Willow Grove, PA.
Unlike other writers groups I’ve attended over the  years, where they tend to be re-readings of poetry or short stories (fine, but not for me,) this one includes many high powered, experienced, published writers. It was founded by Jonathan Maberry. When I met Jonathan, he’d had a few martial arts books published. Since then, he’s become a best-selling author of fantasy, horror, young adult and other related books, with some optioned for TV and movies and sales in the hundreds of thousands.

Jonathan started off the meeting by updating us on developments in the world of writing and publishing.  Here are my rough notes from, primarily, the beginning of the meeting.

Notes from talk by jonathan Maberry at a monthly writers group held in the Philadelphia suburbs– the Barnes and Noble near Willow Grove Mall, held the last Sunday of the month, noon-3 PM

The upsurge of people going to e-publishing is like a tsunami right now. It’s huge. But there’s such a percentage of crappy books. People can get the formatting right but the writing is bad.

Most cover designers for e-books are freelancers and they are on the edge of making a fortune.
It used to be that the cover could tell you whether a book was self published. Not any more.

For about $300 you can get a self-published book positioned.

Facebook ads… are becoming more and more specific. Look for keywords that mention related authors and books. For a conspiracy theory book, look for Dan Brown…

E-publishing works really well for non-fiction.
Non-fiction market was really big up until about 18 months ago.

Self help books shelf life is very short.  Books on computers are obsolete by the time they are in print so everyone  is going to e-publishing.

If you self publish in print, it’s very, very hard to get conventional publishing to like you ever again. It’s an uphill battle and involves a pen-name. (Like five year olds. “You didn’t play with me so I won’t ever play with you again.”) The (self published) book does not help the publishing world, so the publishers want you to go away and be eaten by rats.

Publishers reserve a small amount of each book sold’s revenues to be used for promotion. Then they use that money primarily on the top one hundredth of one percent of writers– the ones who don’t need it.

The author can drive their own sales. Jonathan feels he’s sold more books than his publisher by his efforts.

Some writers find that some of their books don’t fit their current publishers’ needs. The publishers don’t want to sell them.

It costs about $200 to do a strong marketing push for a short story that you can sell thousands of at $.99 a download. That money goes to formatting for Nook, Kindle, etc. Add about $100 for a professional cover.

You don’t want to be associated with a self-publishing operation like Lulu. That puts you into the situation described above, where publishers don’t like self publishers.

Tip to help books on amazon to rise higher: add tags under the section Tags Customers Associate with This Product found near the bottom of the page the book is on.

The meeting is held 12-3 PM at the Barnes and Noble bookstore in Willow Grove, PA, at the meeting room in the back of the store. All are welcome.
More information here.

Photo from a recent writers group meeting. I’m the bald quarter of a head in the bottom right. The meeting usually averages 25-50 attendees. Photo by author Janice Gable Bashman

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