Wednesday, May 06, 2015

The Insecure Writer's Support Group

It’s time for another edition of The Insecure Writer’s Support Group, founded by Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh.

I’m going to cover two things today.

First, I recently attended one of the most amazing writers conferences ever. I’ve attended dozens writers conferences and book festivals in the past. Many require payment for a table or a percentage of the profits. But at this conference, tables for selling books were free to the speakers, we were paid a speaker’s fee, and we received travel expenses and free hotel. Plus lunch was free.

Beyond the compensation though, it was an incredible event. It was very interactive and the attendees were very responsive. I met some amazing people and sold a ton of books.

Authors looking at writers conferences need to weigh the expenses against the benefits. Sometimes it is all about exposure and networking. But don’t put yourself in the hole and don’t give up a huge chunk of your profits unless you are sure it will be worthwhile.

The second item I want to talk about pertains to book covers. Authors are at the mercy of their publishers when it comes to a book’s covers. Most publishers do an amazing job with a cover. It represents the author’s vision and dream.

That’s why responses such as these are just plain rude and unacceptable:

BG - Nice push for the novel but… the cover is atrocious. I wouldn’t buy it in a thousand years. (Yes, I judge some books by their cover).

Dz - The cover needs a professional touch, a bit of rework on the quality of the photo.

The author is excited and often in love with his or her cover. Don’t dash their hopes or make a snide remark about the cover. If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all. (And the covers for the books that received those comments were professional and beautiful.)

Have you attended an amazing writers conference or seen people bash book covers?

I wanted to thank Shelly for her recent video which featured my book, How to Publish and Promote Your Book Now!

And this is for Chrys Fey. In July 1980, I was in Portland, OR to see the dog races. Mt. St. Helens decided to give us a show.


  1. I've sometimes had less than charitable thoughts about some book covers, but never voiced them. I know that I myself would be a terrible cover designer, and I'm very glad I've always had help or my publisher to do it for me.

    Conversely, I have bought books based on the cover before.

    The conference sounds brilliant. I'd love to go to some, but they're all very far away from me so costs would definitely outweigh the benefits at the moment :-(

  2. Thanks for sharing your most recent experience at a writer's conference. Alas... I have yet to attend one. Location, life, expense always seem to get in the way. I honestly believe exposure is one of the most important tools to, not only promoting ourselves as authors, but also in developing another layer of who we need to be as writers. #sigh... Oh, and bashing a book cover is totally rude. People just don't get the business, sometimes.

  3. Awesome you attended such a great conference. I have in the past too, though I've cut back due to the costs.

  4. AnonymousMay 06, 2015

    I haven't attended a conference, but that sounds terrible! About the book covers. I'm glad you had a good time, though!

  5. I haven't attended a writers conference in years. It's hard to know which one might be worth the money, time and energy. glad you had a good experience and were successful in selling books. I agree about negative comments unless the author asked for the critique and could still do something about it.

  6. I've lost money on two conferences, but I knew that was probable going in. Networking with other writers was the main reason for my going. It was worth it, but I'm not so keen on being in the red these days.

    Covers are pretty subjective, although you do have some that are REALLY bad and even the author knows it. That's a tough situation.

  7. That does sound like a great conference. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I really need to go to one someday.

    I judge books by their covers when I'm looking for a book to read, but to shoot down an authors cover just because its not what you'd like is just wrong.

    That picture is neat! Thank you so much for adding it to this post. :)

  8. Attending conferences sounds great, with so much to learn and take away. Thanks for sharing!

  9. SA, there aren't many in our area, so to find such a good one was a treat.

    Karen, usually the author can't do anything about it anyway.

    Jay, that's why I'm careful now which conferences and festivals I attend.

    Chrys, it is wrong. And I'm glad I found that photo.

  10. If someone needs an opinion on a cover, that's one thing. Bashing something that's already out there and can't easily be changed has no purpose.

    The video was interesting and what a great promo for your book.

  11. People who so harshly critique others covers clearly haven't been there themselves.

  12. I would never criticize a book in a review for its cover. I mostly trust my publisher and sometimes the covers I didn't like so much ended up being bestsellers.
    Good point about conferences. They can be very expensive though usually hotel fees outprice the conference itself.
    Your picture would have fit right into Chrys' theme.

  13. So far, I haven't attended a writer's conference where people said something negative about book covers.

    On a positive note, I'm glad you sold a lot of books at the conference, L. Diane. That's wonderful news!

  14. I haven't attended a conference yet. The one you attended sounds awesome.

  15. Thanks for sharing the video, Diane. It's been a while since I've attended a conference. And I still need to post my ISWG. Big slacker, I am.

  16. Hi, Diane,

    Glad the conference was such a HIT... I enjoy conferences... the energy is amazing!

    As for covers... that is just plain rude. Keep your nasty opinions to yourself... Not to publicly bash them.

  17. Great photo.
    I've never been to a writer's conference, but that sounds like a good one.
    And I'd never criticize someone's book cover.

  18. There aren't many writing conferences here in the UK, but cost is the main reason I'm not considering going to any, as well as the fact that they're so far away from where I live!

  19. Confession on IWSG day: I'm too insecure to go to a writer's conference. Bwahahahaha. That's terrible. I guess it would make a good post.

    So, congrats on the success of your conference.

    I think insecure people say mean things. I know we all think mean things from time to time, but that's what the filter in our mind is for... keep that stuff inside.

  20. I envy you the conference experience, although my introvert heart would cringe at such 'exposure'. :)

    Re covers - I'm critical, but not to authors. Unless of course they've asked for constructive feedback, which I will give honestly. No one has the right to pee on another's tastes. :)

  21. Tamara, no purpose whatsoever.

    SittieCates, it was a pleasant surprise.

    Shelly, thank you for including my book in the video.

    Michael, it is rude!

    Robin, more people need to use that filter.

    Shah, pee on another's tastes - LOL!

  22. I've been to some really good local (within 2-3 hours' drive) conferences, but recently the cost keeps me from attending. Some covers unfortunately do a disservice to the author's work. But one shouldn't bash a cover just because.

  23. With the costs of a conference, being a speaker is the way to go. Those were some harsh words regarding the cover, such a same, especially since most authors wear there hearts on their sleeves. Everyone by now should know not to 'judge a book by its cover'!

  24. Ah, covers... I've seen some I've thought aren't that great, but the only time I've ever given a critical opinion is when my opinion is asked. Then I give honest feedback on if I think something could be improved, and how they might accomplish it. Otherwise I keep my mouth shut, even if I think the cover might hurt sales. Unsolicited criticism from a source that doesn't already have a bond of trust usually ends up building defensiveness and hostility. But I also never lie about a person's cover and tell them I like it if I really don't. That doesn't help them any.

  25. Most covers are gorgeous...but I've run across some self-made ones which really should have had a little bit of help, but then the books inside tended to be less cared for too. I kept my opinion to myself.
    And yay to that conference! Sounds so neat :)

  26. AnonymousMay 06, 2015

    Glad you had such a great time at the conference. The only one I have to look forward to is about taxes. *yawn*

  27. Sounds like a great conference and so nice to be treated like a guest and paid as well. Glad you sold a ton of books too.

    Covers bug me sometimes because they look as though nobody has bothered to read the book before designing it. But what can I say?

  28. Covers are important, but no need to be mean.

    Glad you enjoyed the conference. I went to some in the past, but can't justify the expense currently. I have other things to toss my dollars at.

  29. Wow. That's a generous conference. That definitely sounds worth the cost. And I'm not sure about the cover thing. I don't think it's fair to make any part of a work immune to criticism. I mean, the author loves the whole book.

  30. I don't understand someone being that critical. Just don't buy the book but don't undermine the writer's confidence. It is really the naysayer that has the problem.

    The cover can attract a customer. However, I read a lot and anything. The title, who wrote the book, what the book is about attracts me.

  31. Two weekends ago, I went to a fabulous "conference." My RWA chapter's Retreat from Harsh Reality isn't really a conference. It's a time to recharge the creative batteries and connect with other writers in a casual setting. I always come home filled with creative energy.

    Best wishes,
    Diane IWSG #108

  32. AnonymousMay 06, 2015

    A friend got a cover for his upcoming and shared it with me. I liked the cover, but not that much and I said so. I always feel bad about that now. It was his shiny new cover and I should have been way more excited with him than I was.

  33. Sounds like a great conference! Glad it worked out so well for you.

    I think I adhere to "Mama's Law" with book covers. "If we don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all."

  34. Glad you got to go to a great conference! I think you made a good point about weighing the pros/cons. I've been pretty picky about what I attend in the last few years. I usually either choose things that are low-cost, unless it's a once-in-a-lifetime type opportunity. It's been disappointing to spend money and not get much out of it.

  35. Unless someone asks for brutal honesty, I'm always supportive. I can barely color inside the lines.

    Here's my link if you'd like to drop by :-)

    Anna from Elements of Writing

  36. I've been wanting to attend the SWC for years and still haven't. It's in September during hunting season. My hubby goes off to find meat for our freezer. Food seems to win out each year. Darn. I can only imagine how much fun you had. Happy for you.

  37. Wow, free was really free! I like those numbers, lol. I haven't been to a conference in years, but it is on my wish list.

    I was in Tacoma WA about 2 months after the mountain blew. Was still ash everywhere. it was a scary time for many.

  38. Awesome news on the conference! I was in Portland during the eruptions took place. Who knew we were so close so long ago?!

  39. The conference sounds wonderful! I agree with you on those inappropriate comments.
    And my family and I just went to see Mt. St. Helens last fall . . . it's an active mountain and only a few hours from where we live in Washington. :)

  40. Because I'm an artist, I doubt I'll ever be happy with whatever book cover I end up with. I'll admit I'm hard on book covers in general--especially those on self-published books. But I'm never rude about it. Usually I keep my thoughts to myself if I'm not fond of a cover.

  41. I haven't attended a conference in a few years - I've been wanting to again.

    I remember when Mt. St. Helens blew and the next morning I couldn't figure out why there was a layer of dust on my car until I heard the news - we lived a 5-hour drive away too.

  42. Good post Diane, Seems you had a good time.


  43. Thank you for sharing! It is so sad to see people dash dreams-but it happens all the time. Thank you, for keeping it real~

  44. The writer's conference sounds like it was a really rewarding experience for you. I'm not in a position to attend writer conferences or groups either, which is why I blog!

  45. Yolanda, most people do, but still.

    Loni, you said it perfectly. Unsolicited criticism is unnecessary.

    Mary, I won't shell out money for one anymore.

    Ann, it is the person saying it that has the problem.

    Patricia, we live and learn.

    Elizabeth, that's how I feel.

    Dolorah, I swept ash off our back deck several times, and we lived all the way south in Salem, OR.

    Dean, we were really close.

    Tyrean, I still have never gone to see it.

    Kimberly, it sent ash everywhere. They say it circled the earth twice.

    Ella, dashing dreams should be a crime.

    Karen, you live a ways away now!

  46. I live by and especially when it comes to my fellow authors/writers if I don't have something nice to say I don't say anything at all. That goes for covers, reviews and blog posts. If I don't like it I say nothing unless my opinion is asked for and in that case I try to be honest and kind and always private about it.
    I love book events, writers conferences and retreats and workshops whether I am presenting or just attending it is all an investment. I am looking forward to the Philadelphia conference next month.

  47. Nice you got paid for your talk, sold books and met others.

    I haven't attended a conference in a long time, too. And while a book cover does not appeal to me, I don't bash. I would offer suggestion if asked to do so.

  48. I have seen covers that make me raise my eyebrow, shake my head or just think it's the worst thing I have ever seen, but all this happens in the privacy of my cave so no harm done.

  49. I think the cover is up for even more critique than the book - as it should be. I've seen some crappy covers for some good and bad books. I've also criticized some covers, respectfully.

    Books are judged by their covers. The cover should be stellar. The first comment above is obnoxious. The second? Maybe true.

  50. OH my gosh - that picture is amaaazing!

    Congrats on the successful conference. Must feel great to have someone recognize your awesomeness and pay you to be there. :)

  51. AnonymousMay 09, 2015

    I find myself on Twitter less and less because of all the book promos.

    I love that throwback pic.

    I love going to conferences, but wish I could go to more of them.

  52. Hi Diane,

    That is most definitely an insensitive response to a book cover. I think some people just like to spoil the positive ambience with their negative thoughts that are best kept to themselves. Agree with you wholeheartedly, Diane.

    That was nice of Shelly mentioning your book in her video.

    Speaking of Mt. St. Helens, I was in Vancouver, Canada at the time. My 1973 Dodge Polara was covered in volcanic ash.

    Thank you, Diane.


  53. I'm not the biggest fan of books with movie covers but I don't really mind so long as the story is inside. Books are books. A cover isn't going to make much difference about the quality of the work inside

  54. What would move someone to slam a book cover, especially in front of the author? I wonder if they tell new parents their babies are ugly.

  55. That's interesting about cover bashing. Most of the covers I've seen lately have been really interesting or exciting, but I have seen some repetitive covers. I guess I just wouldn't be negative because I know how it feels to not have control over that aspect of my work.

    Glad you had a super conference experience. That's so rewarding.

    And look at that mountain spew! Wow.

  56. Like so many other things, book covers are all about personal preference. The very thing i don't like might appeal to someone else.

  57. Something I learned a while back is that some people like to stir the pot any way they can. They enjoy making others uncomfortable, and like nothing better than sitting back and watching the fireworks explode. When I see comments like those, I lump the commenter into that category and don't give them another thought. Or try not to. Hard if it's my work, though :)

  58. That sounds like a great experience! Can't imagine someone making such negative remarks about their cover to an author. I'm thankful to never have experienced it. Nice video!

  59. AnonymousMay 17, 2015

    Small press and indie covers can be horrible, and there's really no excuse. So many options are now available.