It's been ten days since I started the journey of suffering that is Chandler Bolt's Self-Publishing Summit, and I have to say that at this point, I am throwing in the towel and walking out of the ring. A large contributing factor to that was Mr. Bolt, himself. The over-acted charm of his repeated "Heeeeey, ev'rybody, Chandler BOLT here" was grating on my nerves by the last viewing attempt. While I'm grateful that he did manage to pull together a few people of use, I have no love for the man himself. His second planned book is called "How To Not Suck At Writing", and he wrote it because he admitted that his own writing was not very good. When viewers in chat posed the question of how he got to be such a best-seller if his writing was so terrible, Chandler pretended not to understand the question... three times. Pleading the fifth, anyone? On top of it all, he legitimately said "Right on, boy" to one of his presenters during the course of his hosting duties.
ANYWAY. Moving on. There were nearly fifty webinars in the Summit, and out of the dozen seminars I marked as useful for fiction writers, only three ended up being of use! A few of the presenters were flat-out jokes. One man's only published "self-help" book was a dating playbook (and he didn't have the benefit of being funny and multi-talented like Neil Patrick Harris). Most of these sessions were more about the speaker's individual success stories than the methods they actually used to get there. Many of the speakers were more interested in pushing business strategies and making money off of them ... these were entrepreneurs first and foremost, not authors, and many of them were young. I'm not about to say that young people can't be successful, but when half the people I watched looked fresh out of college and all but said "eh, I'm only in it for the money", it turned me off immediately. As I said in an entry last fall, I'm all about the story first, and the money second. Close friends will tell you just how much I dislike the concept of cold-selling things without getting to know people first... just thinking about it makes me feel like I need a long, hot shower and some brain bleach.
I'm sure that entrepreneurs who like to write business tactic books like What Color Is Your Parachute and Raving Fans would get value out of these seminars, and even some people who blog non-fiction may, as well. But I went into this as a fiction author, and as a fiction author, I can say to my fellow fictionistas and affictionados quite confidently and adamantly: Chandler Bolt's Self-Publishing Seminar is not worth your time, even without paying for any of it. That being said, here are the few people I thought had noteworthy things to say.
Joseph Michael: This webinar was the first that I took copious notes on. Joseph spent several hours learning the ins and outs of Scrivener, and now shares his knowledge by teaching online courses so that other authors do not need to do the same. For me, half the fun of new programs is usually taking the time to play with them and see what does what ... but when you're writing, you don't want to be distracted by settings and options and tabs and toolbars. What would have been an entire afternoon of mucking around was accomplished in about 40 minutes (subtracting the time he spent on his backstory and the time Chandler spent trying to play Mr. Popular). Personally, I came away with enough to do what I need, but his self-styled "Scrivener Coach" nickname is pretty well-earned... even if there's a major typo on his personal website. (I edit, okay? I can't help it.) He charges a pretty penny for the course, but to quote someone in one of the other seminars I enjoyed: "Either you're willing to put the time and the hard work in yourself to get it done, or you have to save your money and hire someone else to do it for you." If you're interested and willing to pay for the knowledge, his website is Learn Scrivener Fast.
John Tighe: Kindle sales direct from Amazon are John's self-proclaimed specialty. He spent a great deal of time padding his tips with stories about himself and his company, so I only took away a few basics, which are not really worth linking you to anything of his for. They're useful, but really common knowledge to a point:
Nick Stephenson: Not only has this author earned himself accolade on my part for how much he shared about his mailing list process ... but he may have gained another reader, as well. As an aside: I went to get his website link for this blog post, and he lists "Homing Pigeons" as a method of contact, with a link to an eHow article. I can honestly say that he is the only webinar host I watched over the last week and a half who presented himself as a "real person", and not just a salesman or self-promoter. Thanks to Nick's advice, I'm going to be starting up a mailing list quite soon, and I hope you'll join me there. I've got a lot of fun things in store. But marketing tips weren't the only thing Nick dished out: he shared experience and advice, as well, and many of the things he said resonated with a lot that's been going through my head ever since I concretely decided to self-publish. He believes in getting to know his readers before he tries to sell them things, self-published his own novel before trying to teach others how to do it, and does not sugar-coat the fact that Just Writing Forever And Ever will not make you a successful author, unless you are willing to pay others to do the behind-the-scenes legwork for you. Writing is still a job, after all. I don't want to tell you everything, because here's the last thing that made him stand out from the pack: his video training is FREE, and you can find it here on his blog. Tell 'im Angela sent you.
So, that's my experience with the Self-Publishing Summit. Hopefully, some of you will find it useful, and the rest of you can imagine the amusing faces I made while listening to most of these people. See you next week!
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