6 Takeaways from Mark Lefebvre

On the weekend my writers group, VIRA, sponsored a workshop with Mark Lefebvre. 

I admit, the main impetus for me to attend this workshop was to re-connect with my writing tribe. I’ve missed the in-person contact for the past two years. Thanks to our terrific leaders and Mark’s obliging nature, the workshop was made available on Zoom for those who chose not to attend in person. One thing about COVID, it forced us Luddites to learn a lot of technology!

Once Mark started to talk, I quickly realized I was in for information overwhelm. To say Mark is an industry insider is an understatement. He knows the publishing world as a writer, a book-seller, a professional speaker. He has been at the forefront of digital publishing and book selling. He has served as the President of the Canadian Booksellers Association, been on the Board of Directors for BookNet Canada, helped to create Sheridan College’s degree program in creative writing. He has worked for Kobo, where he created the Kobo Writing Life self-publishing platform. He currently consults with Draft2Digital for eBook and print distribution. With such a wide-ranging resumé and a surname that is difficult to spell, he mostly defaults to the title “The Book Nerd.”

We had four hours of non-stop teaching. It will take me a while to digest the wealth of information, but here are some of the immediate standouts for me.

  1. Optimize your author brand by being consistent, professional and courteous. As public figures, authors must remember that we are watched and judged all the time.                        
  2. Keep your ideal reader in mind as you craft your book. He showed us something called a Venn diagram to help determine who that ideal reader is.  The diagram is useful, but thinking of your readership as one person, like your Aunt Sally, is a good way to keep the writing on tract. If you are just telling a tale to Aunt Sally, you are less likely to go wandering down dead-ends.                                                                                                                                            
  3. Universal book links are necessary on the world wide web. Who wants to limit their customers to just one platform? But who wants to clutter up their book page with a dozen links either? Draft2Digital has a tool that allows you to make one link that will work on any platform. It’s under the Books2Read page.                                                                             
  4. Writer Beware is a website where authors can check out the too-good-to-be-true offers of companies that want to “help” you self-publish your books. There are legitimate companies that do this, but there are myriad scam artists who prey on hopeful writers. Beware!                                                                                                                                            
  5. Be kind. With so many avenues to publication, authors have more opportunity than ever to get their work in front of readers. Unfortunately, getting noticed is very, very difficult. Being compassionate makes you a  better person. It helps you build relationships, and those relationships will help to advance your career,  be that with booksellers, book buyers, other authors, or strangers in the street.                                                        
  6. As much as you are kind to others, be kind to yourself. Writers are constantly faced with rejection. Don’t let an editor’s “no thanks” letter defeat you. If you have written a novel, or a poem, or a song, or a blog post, or even left a comment, you are a writer. Be proud of that. Millions of people have said, “I should write a book.” You, who have written a book, have accomplished what millions have not. Wear your title of “writer” with pride.

There was much, much more from the workshop but I’m still processing! I told you it was information overwhelm. I’m glad I went. i saw old friends. I met someone new. I learned a lot about the book industry. I got material for this blog. Pretty good return for a rainy Saturday.

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2 Comments

  1. Laura Langston

    It was an information-filled day, wasn’t it? Lots of good material to digest. I liked the reminder to be authentic all the time, including on social media where it’s easy for some to fall into the trap of mainly marketing instead of mainly connecting. And I was one of those grateful for the Zoom option, though I missed seeing everyone in person!

    • Alice Valdal

      Thanks for commenting, Laura. I wondered how the whole thing had worked on Zoom. Glad you were able to “attend” that way.

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