Last night we held a panel discussion with local authors Jane Steen, Lisa Steinke, and Peter Ferry on their experiences in publishing. They offered a variety of viewpoints. Steen writes historical fiction and is self-published. Steinke co-writes “women’s fiction” or stories about women and is published by Simon & Schuster’s Atria imprint. Ferry’s first book was published by Harcourt and is now with a smaller publisher, Unbridled Books.
Even with different publishing backgrounds, it was the similarities in their perspectives that continued to mount. All talked about the big role that marketing plays in their daily lives. Steen, who entirely handles her own marketing, has the benefit of being able to see the back end of Amazon where she can assess the impact of various promotions. While Steinke and Ferry may not have access to the same statistics, they both discussed the numerous methods they use to promote their own books. Steinke, in particular, discussed constantly talking about her own book, even in awkward situations.
Early in the evening the authors agreed that traditional publishing is no longer the only way to go. Changes in the publishing industry and in the economy have caused agents and publishers to be more cautious and more selective. This, in turn, leads many debut authors to head out into the publishing world on their own by self-publishing their books.
Support groups and the value of networking were other areas of agreement among the panelists. Steen, Steinke, and Ferry all told stories of author friends they’ve made and the value of those friendships to their work. Each author relies on friends, family, and other writers for opinions, critiques, and support along the way.
The authors also offered these tips for anyone looking to get published:
- Make sure that your book/manuscript is ready; could it be better?
- Study the publishing industry; know how all the pieces work and what you want to achieve
- Write the book you want to write; don’t write what you think a publisher wants to buy
- You have to like to write; writing should be your reward
Interested in more local authors and their fiction? Check out our local author collection at Cook Park Library.