For several years now, I’ve been delivering a clarion call to organizers of writers conferences where I’m invited to teach. Writers need role models. It used to be, we only had one, at least one that we all wanted to model-traditional publishing. The climb was clear: the writer hooks the agent who hooks the editor who offers a publishing contract that results in publication, a turnaround of about eighteen months to two years, less so if the publisher sees a ‘big sales’ opportunity.

But that was before the shift triggered by the world wide web’s influence in publishing. The new way offers more choices for writers. At the recent Southern California Writers Conference, writers had many more workshops to choose from, workshops offered by writers successfully carving out new roads to publication. 

I taught two workshops focused on ‘opening hooks’ and also attended several other workshops where I learned so much. Included in my schooling was the distinction between DIY (Do It Yourself) publishing and DYI (Do Yourself Independence), the approach endorsed by SCWC’s Executive Director, MSG, (Michael Steven Gregory).  

Here’s what MSG wrote about D.I.Y. in a recent Facebook post: ‘Most writers suck at doing it all themselves, which is what DIY implies… Only the most minute fraction of writers can do it all themselves. Simply look at the overwhelming majority of DIY publications–eBooks, POD books, vanity press books–nearly all replete with poorly designed, unprofessionally executed jackets, poor to nonexistent editing, blah blah blah…

DYI = recognizing your limitations and exploiting them to your benefit by investing in those who shine at what they do…

Chances are, you’re not:

  • uniquely talented to be a writer who doesn’t need an editor
  • a graphic artist who can create a sufficiently sophisticated, aesthetically pleasing jacket design that doesn’t convey a level of ‘suckitude’ that instantly kills a potential sale the moment a prospective buyer lays eyes upon it–regardless of the quality of the story contained between the covers–
  • a book trailer producer …capable of producing instantly engaging video that truly serves the objective of what a book trailer must accomplish,
  • AND a great marketer all at the same time!

By staying informed, by being diligent, by being patient and selective and smart, you can allow others to make you shine. Your job is to write a good book and work it.

Following the writer’s ‘show don’t tell’ mantra, SCWC’s DYI Workshops showed us how to carve out the ‘Indie’ road by featuring authors doing it!

Of the several DYI workshops offered, I sat in on three.

Literary agent Sally van Haitsma’s DYI: Writing & The Re-Wired Reader delivered solid information about the interfacing of traditional and indie publishing. Ms. Van Haitsma is one of a growing number of agents working with writers both inside and outside conventional publishing.

Independent childrens’ author, Sheri Fink, brought her Indie A-game to her DYI workshop, Best Selling Independent Author Tells All. For writers who believe they can wear all the hats that include author, marketer, et al, subscribe to Sheri Fink’s site. She’s one author who does almost all of it herself and does it extraordinarily well. Her recent Little Rose book debuted last week and like her other books, almost instantly climbed up to the top of Amazon’s best seller list.

And then there’s Bridget Hoida whose first novel,  SoL.A, has so far, grabbed lots of literary spotlight.  Her DYI workshop, Straddling the Line: The Micropress Method illustrated how authors can be represented by a literary agent (she is) and remain on the independent author road.

Choices. We have many. How do we choose? We won’t know unless we’re schooled and SCWC’s 2012 fall session offered the most comprehensive tutorial I’ve participated in so far. Kudos to SCWC for continuing to lead writers down the road to publication.  

Click here to learn more about SCWC’s 2013 February session held in San Diego.

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