A Different Route – Self-Publishing and the CMA Writers Group “Publish YoSelf” Project

By Kristen McGregor
CMA Writers Group Coordinator

Tonight was my first night as the new Writers Group Coordinator for the CMA, and it was so lovely to see so many enthusiastic writers at the table ready to collaborate on ideas. We met the amazing and talented author Elisa Ludwig who shared with the group all about self-publishing, and how it helped form her career as an author. Talking with Elisa was great for our group because this year we’re going to be publishing a book on Amazon. That’s right; after hearing that members wanted to learn more about self-publishing, I suggested that we might as well just publish a book together and see what the process is like. The idea was approved and the #CMAPublishYoSelf group was born! After all, it can’t be that hard to self-publish a book, can it?

In my initial interview with Elisa, she stressed many things that she wished she would have known in 2010 when she was publishing her first e-book, June of Rock that she knows now. Summed up, they are:

  1. Use the internet to your advantage

  2. Cover art matters

  3. Go big or go home

Use the Internet to Your Advantage:

Elisa talked about the use of social media, as well as the importance of gaining book reviews for your work on sites such as Barnes and Noble and Amazon. Getting involved with bloggers is important at the early stage as many bloggers will read your manuscript and review it on their site (asking them to also comment on Amazon is a great idea as well). Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Goodreads, and Tumblr are all key platforms to be on to promote your work from early stages to publishing and onwards. There are many writers groups online, and Elisa encouraged us to check them out on our journey to publication.

Cover Art Matters:

While you should never judge a book by its cover, Elisa revealed that in the world of online publishing, we unfortunately do. Covers in the Kindle store are key to attracting attention, even though they’re so tiny. A mistake is to spell out the whole story in the cover, and Elisa also encouraged us to work with a designer to create the cover art.  Like great cover art, supporting blurbs from like-minded authors are key, as is a concise bio. Having a strong synopsis and a tagline for the book helps to quickly explain your concept to Kindle store browsers.

Go Big or Go Home:

Lastly, Elisa stressed the importance of “going big or going home” – that is, not being shy. In the world of the Kindle store, there are so many other competing books, so it’s very rare for your work to rise to the top unless you’re out there tooting your own horn. It’s an e-book author’s job to get noticed in the sea of competition.

Elisa Ludwig sharing her wisdom via Skype
Elisa Ludwig sharing her wisdom via Skype

It was great getting to know Elisa and her journey to digital publication, but now it’s time to start our own here with the CMA Writers Group. Our 6 events this year will consist of a 60-minute session where an industry vet talks about their craft (our goal is to live stream this session to all members via our brand new YouTube channel, subscribe today!), with the following 120 minutes acting as a chance for the publishing group to collaborate on the e-book.

This sounds amazing! How do I sign up?

All CMA members are invited to apply to join the publishing group (experience not needed), with 20 members randomly selected, all making a commitment to attend the February, March, and April groups, as well as copy edit each others work through the summer. All members that are selected for the group will have to sign a contract to take part. Please note that you did not have to attend the Feb 6th session in order to apply.

The sessions that are a mandatory for attendance are:

  • February 27th 6-9pm

  • March 27th 6-9pm

  • April 24th 6-9pm

  • Additional sessions to be scheduled in the Fall.

If you’d like to apply to the group, here’s the link to take part: http://bit.ly/1bwRkI9

ALL applications are due by noon on February 20, 2014.

I’m looking forward to experiencing the fun of writing and publishing a book this year, with the terrific CMA Writers Group!