Monday, November 11, 2013

Missouri Authors Expo

my book table
Last Friday night the Webster Groves Public Library held its first Missouri Authors event. Nearly three dozen authors gathered to meet readers and sign copies of their books. In addition many of the authors signed up to read a sample of their books. All genres were represented including fiction, non-fiction, mystery, children's and young adult. Wine and light food items were available in the lower level of the library. The event was very well organized, and valet parking made set up a breeze for the authors.

It was interesting to meet the other authors, some of whom I know from the St. Louis Publishers Association. While the attendance was probably lighter than we all would have liked, despite some good publicity, the people who came out were genuinely interested in talking with the authors. I had some great conversations about WWII and also house research. I even sold some books, so that was a nice bonus. It was gratifying to hear several members of the library staff tell me that my house research book is one of the most referenced (and stolen!) books in the library. It is nice to know that it is reaching the people who are trying to find out who lived in their homes.

The most amazing thing for me, though, was seeing Patricia McKissack. A renowned children's author, Patricia has also taught classes on writing for children. More than 25 years ago I took her class, along with another woman with whom I worked. Through the class I wrote a book entitled "Pierre, the Cat with No Hair." It was an anti-bullying book before this was even a buzzword. I even submitted the book to numerous publishers, to no avail. Sadly, Pierre only exists on the hard drive of my old Mac SE, which has long since given up the ghost. I cannot locate a hard copy of it anywhere. I introduced myself to Patricia, explained that I had taken her class, and told her that while I have written three books, none of them are for children. She smiled and said, "Maybe someday." Maybe someday, indeed.

For a first time event, I think it was quite a success. I certainly hope that another one is held next year so that I can participate again.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Introduction to Publishing

Peggy Nehmen and Kim Wolterman
On Saturday the St. Louis Publishers Association (SLPA) held a four hour workshop on how to publish a book. Our first class was offered in March of this year and was so successful that we decided to have another one in the fall. Part of the mission of the SLPA is outreach, and we used to conduct mini-workshops at local Borders stores every Saturday in March during Small Press Month. With the demise of Borders, we looked for other opportunities to help authors understand their options when it comes time to publish their books. Working with the local community college seemed like a great alternative for us.

In addition to making arrangements for the class, I served as the moderator and of course added my two cents worth when appropriate. We began the class with Warren Martin of Little Elephant Publishing giving an overview of traditional publishing versus going the independent publishing route. Pros and cons of each were discussed. Linda Austin of Moonbridge Publications covered how to get books into print and into stores. Her presentation was followed up by Peggy Nehmen of Nehmen-Kodner Graphic Design. Peggy provided information on why it is important to make sure a book looks good inside and out. Because ebooks are such a large part of book consumption these days, Bob Baker discussed the most widely used ebook services and distributors. Last but certainly not least, Tim Hill provided an informational and entertaining look at how to get books into the marketplace. We wrapped the program up with personal stories on what marketing techniques have worked best for us in the past.

This was a lot of information to cover in four hours, but I think we provided a good overview of the publishing process and gave the attendees guidance on where they can go for help.