I went back to South by Southwest Interactive this year – 3rd year in a row. Every year, I come away with at least one big idea for how I can get a leg up on technology with my books, and I figure out what the trends are.

I have to admit – I was a little disappointed, because I felt like I was hearing the same things I’ve heard for the past 2 years. Writers are still wading slowly into the waters of self-publishing, publishers are still scared and coming up with half-ass ways to adapt, and more and more ebook startups are sprouting up around us. Not to say that it was an empty experience; quite the contrary actually. I just needed to cut through the “heard this already” to get to what I needed to learn, which was this:

  • Self-publishing was a great fit for The Redheaded Stepchild. It was my story, and kind of a pet project. Something like Portrait of Woman In Ink, however, might be worth going after a traditional publisher.
  • Even if traditional publishing is my goal, I need to find a publisher that will let me do my own thing, who won’t turn my book into some crazy bastardization I don’t want to write.
  • I need to be on Pinterest. Almost every young woman I know is on Pinterest, and that’s my audience. And here I thought it was just for people decorating nurseries and planning weddings.
  • I’m doing the right thing by working my own network first with my book, but I need to be a little more pressing about getting my network to write me an honest review.
  • I shouldn’t try to be elitist about my first book. It’s there for me to get my name out. After my KDP Select period is over, I’ll be dropping the price of The Redheaded Stepchild. I can charge a little more for Portrait of Woman In Ink.
  • I need to start promoting Portrait of Woman In Ink now. And because it is a book about women and tattoos, there’s plenty for me to engage readers about. Also, I shouldn’t be afraid to call up the tattoo shops and see if they want to have a copy in their lobbies.
  • I volunteer at a library. There’s no reason I shouldn’t have my book on the shelves there. I already have friends there.
  • I need to encourage my friends who like the book to recommend it to someone else. It’s not icky. I don’t know why I look at it like it’s icky.
  • Yeah, my sales aren’t going to take off immediately. I learned that lesson. I was encouraged by several panels that it’s all a process, and I need to set it on the shelf (or web page) and let it do its thing.
  • I shouldn’t be afraid to talk to the local paper and area bloggers about taking me on as an interviewee.
  • I need to engage with other people who write about tattoos for Portrait of Woman In Ink. I already got a PhD to agree to write a foreword for an unknown author; it’s probably not much harder than that.

That’s my bullet point redux from SXSW. Also here’s some cool shit I discovered:

  • SmallDemons.com: It’s a startup that will show you (in popular books anyway) what references there are. So, for instance, I am reading The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (just to see what all the hype is about), and it will show me that the book references John Coltrane, Martin Luther, Adolf Hitler, Hopalong Cassidy. Also, Doc Martens and Armani. Pretty cool stuff.
  • Libboo.com: It’s a startup author support community. I haven’t delved into all the ins and outs of it yet, but I met their CEO who had an appealing accent.
  • BookCountry.com: It’s Penguin’s critiquing community for genre authors. Again, haven’t looked at it too closely, but I applaud Penguin for doing something innovative.

Next year, I’ll probably opt for a vacation that involves a Betsey Johnson bikini and a beach. Take advantage of this vacation’s knowledge.