Realm Makers 2017 Wrap-Up

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.

*deep voice* You have failed this conference.


Comments (10)

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your experiences! I’ve found that the “risk” of giving up even a small amount of creative control (in terms of going to traditional publishing) is something that makes me very edgy. And I’m really, really glad that authors now have so many options in that area!

Practicing short fiction is really good (in my view) for exploring new genres, new writing styles, and your craft as a whole. (Last year I worked on a few short stories and put them on my blog for feedback.)

Marketing is tough! I definitely hear you on that one! Good luck with figuring out all of it!

Thank you! It is difficult, but I’m doing a ton of research to try to get better at it. I’ve really been getting into writing and self-publishing podcasts lately; those are very helpful and inspiring. I think the short fiction will actually be helpful from a marketing standpoint if I use it wisely. Sometimes the short stuff connects with readers even more effectively than longer books. I’ll have to read yours!

I ran a series called “Short Story Day,” and they are (in chronological order), “Just Pretend,” “Me and You,” “Primitive,” and “Tad Fallows and the Quarter Pints.”

Wait, you did one about Tad Fallows? :O Now I must look it up. XD

Those sound awesome! Looking forward to reading them!

Loved this wrapup! Thanks for sharing! Some great insightful stuff… and the part about your “new hobby” is like my favorite thing. XD *laughing so hard* So sorry you were going through a tough time as a writer, but glad you’re doing better!! And I’m so glad you didn’t decide to ditch the author thing, Foreign Legion or not. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Oh, and forgot to mention: short stories can be a lot of fun! I have been trying more of them this year. (Mostly because I can’t focus long enough to work on any of my long stuff lately… *cough* But that’s a whining for another day. XD) They’re great practice to try other things (either in the same or different genres) and for a published author, they can be handy to have around as freebies or newsletter-subscriber-perks and such, especially when part of the same series. And I will never complain about the Afterverse eating all your ideas, because it’s awesome. XD

I used to hate writing them, but I’m currently finding them to be very fun. It’s nice to enjoy the writing experience without the pressure of turning the story into a 50K novel. Plus, it’s just great practice. I have one that I’m setting up as a newsletter perk, and I’m working on some other cool ideas with them as well. And thanks! ๐Ÿ˜€ I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying this universe. I have lots of plans for expanding it.

I hope to go to Realm Makers one of these years!
Thanks for sharing your writing journey with us. I have doubts about my writing career at times. The marketing side of it can be discouraging and overwhelming.

Ugh, I know. It’s grueling and often thankless. But I’m still going to keep plugging away at it in the hope that I can work out a strategy that allows me to balance writing and marketing. From what I’ve heard from long-time professionals in the field, it *should* be possible. I just need to figure out how.

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