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No Regrets

Someone once said, “There is no such thing as bad publicity.” I’m not sure that’s true, but in this case I was very happy to see my name mentioned several times in The Chronicle, my local paper.

A friend of mine, Julie McDonald Zander, writes a column for the newspaper, and recently called me. Her first questions were when and why I started self-publishing. I told her I started my business in August of 2013, but I prefer the term indie-publishing. Self-publish has the image of boxes of books stacked in the garage that will never be sold. I keep a few copies of my books to give to reviewers and bloggers, but other than that I have no inventory. I should have added that my books are sold in over sixty-five countries and on every inhabited continent. I’m trying to find a way to get my books to Antarctica.

I’ll be speaking this September at the Southwest Washington Writers Conference on using Amazon, Nook, Kobo, iTunes and Smashwords for broader ebook distribution. I’ll also talk about how to use print-on-demand and audiobooks for greater reach. The conference is in Centralia on September 17th. If you’re interested you can register here.

Until recently, most writers went through agents and traditional publishers. During our conversation, Julie asked me if I ever regretted not going the traditional route. I told her that if I had waited to be traditionally published I might have one or two books out by now, maybe none. Later, as I reflected on my comments, it occurred to me that I don’t think of my work in terms of Traditional or Indie. I can still sign a traditional publishing contract. I just don’t pursue one.

By using indie-publishing, I now make a living running my own publishing business and writing books.

No, Julie, I have no regrets.

An outstretched hand

I have a wonderful life.

Yes, I made some good life choices, but I also know that the grace of God has shined in my life. I am fortunate to have been born here in America and at this time. I thank God that I met and married my wonderful wife, and that I can do what I love for a living.

So, when my writer and friend Julie Zander asked if I’d be willing to donate a copy of one of my books to the Lewis County Gospel Mission fundraiser, I quickly agreed.

Author Kyle Pratt with Gospel Mission director Fay Ternan

Earlier today, I met with the director, Fay Ternan. She told me the mission was formed in 1996 as an independent Christian outreach to the widows, runaways, the homeless, poor and those just out of jail. In addition to clothing, bedding, shows, and other essentials, the mission provides thousands of meals every month. This is the work of Matthew 25:35 and 36.

The fundraiser is a dinner and live auction at the Centralia Christian School this Saturday. I’ve donated a copy of each of my four paperback books to the effort. I hope to see you there.

Planning for the Conference

We’re already planning the next Southwest Washington Writers Conference.

Julie Zander, Scott White and Andy Skinner

Julie Zander, Scott White and Andy Skinner

The rains came down hard and steady today, but still I ventured to downtown Centralia for a meeting at The Station Coffee Bar & Bistro across from the Fox Theatre. It seems to be something of a hangout for local authors. Lately, I’m there at least once a week to meet with other authors. Planning for the 2016 Southwest Washington Writers Conference bought me out on this rain soaked day. Over warm drinks, I met with fellow writer Julie Zander, Andy Skinner from the Lewis County Historical Museum, and Scott White of the Historic Fox Theatre Restorations.

Much of the planning for our local conference is done. New York Times bestseller author Jennifer Lauck will be the keynote speaker and will teach three workshops. Bestselling author and Christy Award winner Leslie Gould will teach a workshop called “Romancing Your Novel.” I will be teaching a workshop with bestselling author Carolyn McCray on indie publishing. Several other workshops will be announced soon.  

Planning today centered on finalizing the schedule, getting the registration page of the website ready and approving the new logo. We hope to have everything up and ready by the end of the month. For more information visit the Southwest Washington Writers website and, if you’re going to be in this area on September 17th come by and visit. It’ll be a fun day!

My Local Conference

The 2015 Southwest Washington Writers Conference is over.

Marketing expert Veronika Noize and Kyle Pratt at the 2015 Southwest Washington Writers Conference

Seattle has conferences for writers, and so does Portland, but until last year this area lacked that level of education and networking. The first year of the conference, I both presented and helped with the organization and operation. This year I just helped. While both conferences were a success, this year attendance rose and the operation ran smoother.

The morning of the conference we came in early to complete final preparations. Julie Zander soon discovered the main auditorium was locked. She got it open just in time for me to turn on the projector, computer, adjust the lights and test the microphone. I finished as the first few people walked in.  

Authors Kyle Pratt and Jennifer Shaw Wolf at the 2015 Southwest Washington Writers Conference

As with last year, we had both a Keynote address and a mini-keynote. Jane Kirkpatrick, author of more historical fiction books than I care to count, provided the keynote. She spoke on the skills a writer needs to develop and often needs to discover within. Scott Eagan gave the other keynote. As an agent, he spoke on what his profession could and could not do for a writer. He spoke well, but as a purely indie writer, I’m not looking for an agent.

This year attendees had their choice of twelve workshops on everything from writing poetry, to editing and marketing. Melanie Dobson spoke on putting romance into genre writing. Unfortunately she brought a Mac to an all Microsoft facility. Again, I was called upon, and together with Melanie we melded the two operating systems in time for her class.

Authors Lisa Burnette and Jane Kirkpatrick at the Southwest Washington Writers Conference

I attended the Writing for Young Adults and Story Structure classes by Jennifer Shaw Wolf. I think she did both presentations well, and I learned things in both. However, I looked forward to the class with Veronika Noize on Marketing. I missed it last year because our presentations were at the same time. I’m an author and have little interest in marketing, but as an indie writer, the responsibility falls on my shoulders. She had many good ideas which I look forward to trying over the next few months.

Both years the conference has been organized by a few members of the Southwest Washington Writers Guild. As I mentioned, I’ve been a part of both efforts. We’re already planning the event for next year and I’m looking forward to it.

Night Owl Critique

Oregon Christian Writers Summer Conference, Day Two

The second day of the 2015 Conference ended with a critique session.

 

I started the day with the first session of a coaching class taught by authors Susan May Warren, James Rubart and Jeff Gerke. Today, in both small groups and the class as a whole, we discussed the building blocks of great fiction. In particular we covered the opening line and paragraph of our stories. The class will continue tomorrow and the next day.

Later I attended a class with Sheila Seifert, editor of Focusonthefamily.com. Her presentation on Developing Your Voice was interesting is an aspect of my writing that I need to work on. Next I attended Greg Johnson’s, Finding Readers: The Ultimate Key to Success. Greg is the founder of WordServe Literary Group. I’m a writer and would prefer not to market, but in the changing publishing world it is a growing part of my business day. I need to understand this aspect of the business.

Kyle Pratt helping critique manuscripts at Oregon Christian Writers conference

In the hotel ballroom for dinner, I sat with Harvest House publisher and senior editor Nick Harrison, author and editor Jeff Gerke and my critique partner Carolyn Bickel. We talked about the changing book market and how it affects companies like Harvest House.  I finished the day helping with critiques. I attended at least one critique group for many years and believe they are a vital part of the editing process for new and mid-list authors. So, when Julie Zander asked me to help, I was more than willing.


OCW First Day

Dinner was the most interesting part of the first day of the conference.

When I say it that way it sounds like a bad thing, that the first day of the Oregon Christian Writers Summer Conference was a bust, but that isn’t so. The time spent around the dinner table was simply the best time.

After getting checked in, and receiving my obligatory nametag, (I’ve never liked wearing a nametag) I found my room, but was only able to relax for a few minutes, before trotting off to the conference.

The first item was a panel discussion with literary agents. There were probably more than a hundred people in attendance. Every seat was used and they brought in more. Agents are important to writers. I listened to gain insight on their perspective, but I don’t need an agent right now.

Next was a panel of magazine editors. I don’t write for magazines, but I was willing to hear what they had to say. Ben Wolf of Splickety Magazine, intrigued me. His magazine specializes in flash fiction, entire stories told in 1,000 words or less.

Several years ago, my son James had written several flash fiction pieces. That was my first introduction to them and I had no idea where or how to market them, but here was a man asking people to write them. I wanted to tell James.

Randy Ingermanson, Kyle Pratt and Ben Wolf at the Oregon Christian Writers summer conference

Next was dinner in the banquet room. I saw my friend Julie Zander and we walked in together. Each table had a centerpiece with the name of a speaker at the conference. The named person would sit at that table. I noticed the table with Ben Wolf’s name on it. We sat there with Julie on my right.

Ben arrived moments later and sat one space over on my left. The chair between us was empty. I had just starting talking with Ben about his magazine and what type of submissions they were looking for when Randy Ingermanson sat between us. I’ve read several of Randy’s books including Oxygen and The Fifth Man. Julie knew Randy. Randy knew Ben and Julie and for the next hour I got to know both Randy and Ben as we talked about Amazon, the future of writing and magazines.

It was a great start to the conference.