Finally, my long-overdue post on the Realm Makers 2017 conference. My life has been a whirlwind of catching up since I got back. Also, I've discovered this weird but refreshing new hobby where you lie in a horizontal position on a soft squishy thing and lose consciousness for hours. I think they call it “sleeping”…or something like that. I highly recommend it.
So, Realm Makers. Loved it. This was my first writers' conference, so I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, but it turned out to be even more fun than I had anticipated. It was also my first time promoting my books in person. Here are a couple pics of my book table.
Honestly, promoting my books in person like that made me somewhat dizzy–in a good way. Less than a year ago, I was in a bad place regarding my writing career, or lack thereof. I was seriously considering chucking the whole idea out the window and joining the Foreign Legion. (Do people still do that? I don't even know.) If somebody had told me in November 2016 that by July 2017 I'd be sitting at a table selling copies of two published books, I would have given a short, bitter laugh and then gone back to feeling sorry for myself.
Fortunately, I regenerated and became the current, much more fun version of myself.
Yes, you do, Old Me.
I am NOT telling this story to brag. It's not like I'm the next Brandon Sanderson. (Yet.) I'm saying this to encourage people who might be having doubts about their own writing. You can take all that crippling creative anxiety and turn it around. I'm not promising that you will become a best-selling author; that's a milestone I haven't come close to yet. But you can at least get your stuff out there and be a writer. That alone can change everything.
And prayer is important. Very, very important. I wouldn't be where I am today without God.
The conference was also a time of intensive education in craft and marketing. Kudos to the people who organize Realm Makers for giving attendees their money's worth and more. Aside from lots of great talks, we got one-on-one appointments with publishing agents and with mentors who taught on a variety of topics. I was constantly scribbling notes all through the conference. (I really hope I can read my horrible handwriting now.)
Here are my main takeaways from Realm Makers:
- I need to confidently embrace my writing as a job. Not just something I dabble in that may or may not pan out. It was refreshing to be around so many professional people who don't act like writing isn't a real job. Everyone there was very serious about making money with their writing. I think I can achieve that goal; I just need to put some smarter marketing strategies into effect.
- Traditional publishing isn't for me–at least, not right now. I did talk to a couple of agents at Realm Makers. They were very helpful and informative. I didn't exactly pitch Beaumont and Beasley to them, and they didn't exactly accept or reject it. Our conversations remained hypothetical. But the upshot was that I decided to keep doing what I've been doing for now. I like the control that comes with self-publishing. I like knowing that I have all the rights to the characters and the world that I've created. That's not something I'm interested in changing right at this moment.
- I need to write more. I think that's the most vital thing for self-published authors to do; even more important than marketing, social media engagement, etc. Not that those other things aren't important, of course. But generating more content is at the top of the list. And I have a lot of plans for more stories in the Beaumont and Beasley universe (a.k.a. “The Afterverse”) which I'm looking forward to sharing with the world as soon as possible.
- I need to market more. Amazon ads are apparently pretty important. I'm planning to make use of those as well as some other strategies and tools I learned about at Realm Makers. I'd say that people tend to read and enjoy my books once they find out about them, but I need to work harder on promotion so that people know they exist in the first place.
- I should try my hand at more short fiction. This isn't a medium I've delved into very much so far. Usually, whenever I sit down to write a short story, I finish it in Book 7. I'd like to hone this craft, especially since there's a lot of potential for short fiction in the Afterverse. Not that everything I write has to be set in that universe. I try to write things outside it, but they usually end up getting eaten by it one way or another. In my opinion, that's not necessarily a bad thing.
To sum up, Realm Makers was awesome, and I highly recommend it to anyone who'd like to meet up with fellow writers and learn more about the craft. I'm tentatively planning to return next year (depending on where the location is), so I hope to see you there!
In conclusion, here's a picture of me in costume at the RM awards banquet.