The conference presenters and attendees included traditionally published authors, self-published authors, hybrid authors, and aspiring authors. Other represented professions included forensics experts, retired cops, a former black ops contractor, the director of NamUs (the federal database that matches unidentified bodies with missing persons), and at least one private detective.
I particularly liked hearing about other self-published writers’ experiences, but I was a little appalled at a couple of presenters telling the audience how expensive it is to self-publish. Thanks to sites like Smashwords and Amazon, that just isn’t the case. Maybe those writers started self-publishing several years ago when a writer did have to spend thousands of dollars, but now the publishing itself is free. Of course, if you need the services of an editor or a cover designer, that costs money. And if you need to buy or subscribe to Word, you’ll have to cough up a few bucks. Otherwise, you don’t have to spend a penny.
I’ve found the time-honored tradition of bartering is alive and well in the self-publishing world. I have a deal with a British writer I met through the Goodreads site. I edit his books and he designs book covers for me. One writer at the conference mentioned she had gotten a good book cover done at a reasonable price by a college art student. Covers and editing are important, so if you’re going to self-publish, spend your money on those two things. Do NOT give it to a self-publishing press. They charge hundreds to thousands of dollars and sometimes screw your book up. I’ve heard stories from several writers of errors appearing in books after they were manhandled by these places, so avoid them like the plague! After all, one of the biggest benefits of self-publishing is maintaining control of your books. Don’t fork out a bunch of money to lose that control.
All in all, Killer Nashville was a great time and I learned a lot. I hope to attend next year and would recommend it to anyone interested in writing or reading mysteries.