A Guest Post from Iris Draak

4 Dec

irisHappy Thursday to you all.  I’m going to make this short and then turn things over to my guest today, Iris Draak.  In fact, I’m just going to turn it over now.  Oh, by the way, this is my 200th blog post on this site. Thank you, all of you, for your support.  And now, here’s Iris!

Opportunities Abound at Local Writer & Publisher Conferences


I’m rewriting this for the third time. There is more pressure when one writes for writers. I am

grateful for Bill’s generosity in allowing me to share the stage with him and for the opportunity

to speak to you, his audience. I am anxious to be worthy of the honor and opportunity and

excited to share.


I have been bursting to share my experience at the 5th annual Idaho Book Extravaganza with

other writers ever since I went two weeks ago.


I am new to the writing community here in Boise, Idaho. I have almost no connections other

than my brother who is a publisher, one of the sponsors, and the one who invited me. But he is

not the connection you may imagine, which is a story for another day. Having said that, I would

not have heard about the even had it not been for his invitation.


My point there is simply that it only takes one tenuous connection to open a door to a great



So, there I found myself, a somewhat recognizable face (thanks to genetics) in an unfamiliar sea.

Thankfully I know how to swim.


Know Why Youre There & Meet the People


I arrived early and strategically chose a chair at an empty table. In short order two women

approached. I introduced myself, asked their names and asked them what kind of writing they



My primary objective for attending the event was to determine if the Idaho Writers Guild was

worth joining. I’d done some research but I’d been on the fence for months. Dollars are

precious and the notion that one must “spend money to make money” is only partially true. It is

all about the return on investment. I needed some convincing.


My secondary objective was to try to find a fit for getting my work published locally. I just

haven’t been able to find the right niche for it. I am more of an essayist, and I don’t care for

straight factual reporterstyle


writing. I was in a bit of a crunch because I had committed to Bill

that I would submit some of my work in November. I am also anxious to step out of my 9:00 to

5:00 office for the last time and never look back. Publishing regularly will be just the financial

supplement to my other writing streams of income needed to make that happen.


The clock was ticking loudly.


My tertiary objective was to pitch a book idea to a publisher. My brother would not have

accepted it. And I would have rejected his services had he offered. It’s simply not the right fit.

As luck would have it, the first woman I spoke to is a freelance writer who writes for multiple

local publications. She was kind enough to ask about my goals and style. I was honest. She

brightened and told me about a statewide publication that only wants essays in the style I

described. She gave me the name of the editor, who knows her well. We chatted a bit more and

then she invited me to the January meeting of the Idaho Writers Guild. She told me she would

be presenting. I was thrilled. She is exactly the kind of person from whom I could learn. And

she’s just a genuinely nice person.


This opened the door for me to share my hesitancy about joining the guild. I had barely finished

my explanation when her friend perked up and interjected that she is on the board. I asked her

several questions and she offered explanations that put me at ease. I told her I’d be joining and

was looking forward to the presentation by her friend.


The microphone squealed, and we took our seats. There were several sponsors who introduced

themselves and gave short elevator pitches for their publishing companies. There are a

surprising number of local publishers. I fact that still perplexes me.


After that we heard from a local writer and founder of the Idaho Writers Guild and an actor and


of the Idaho Shakespeare Festival. He’s a man who has written multiple screenplays

and novels and yet has never been published. It was encouraging to know that he has made his

living for many years as a writer even without critical acclaim and a book deal. I settled in.


Breakout Sessions: A Place for Targeted Learning


Next we attended our choice of breakout sessions. Three sessions were offered backtoback

with eleven topics from which to choose.


Freelancing as a Professional Career Choice

The Realities and Revenue of Traditional Publishing vs. Independent Publishing

Ask Any Question about Copyright and Author Legal Issues

How the Introvert Revolution Impacts Every Business

Creating Short Feature Podcasts for Authors

Getting Your Fiction Book Published

Writing Your Book to Sell to Schools, Military, and Corporations

The Steps to Hiring an Editor

Working with a Graphic Designer for Covers and Interiors

Steps to Hiring an Illustrator

Getting Your Books in Bookstores


Introvert Revolution


For the first breakout session I chose the Introvert Revolution because this introvert has a theory.

I wanted to test it. I believe the time of the introvert has arrived and that technology has finally

collided with a distrust for showmanship. As it turns out the session went in a different

direction, but my active participation in it, in the form of comments and questions, opened the

door for a great conversation later in the day with my two new friend who also attended the



Professional Freelancing

I chose the Professional Freelancer session for the second round. That was an excellent choice.

My current strategy was exactly what she was recommending, which gave me a boost of

confidence. She also mentioned something about websites that made sense to me. She said we

should all have a “Services” tab in addition to a standard “Hire Me” tab. This seems obvious

now, but it hadn’t occurred to me to so clearly articulate each of my services and background in

each. I took note and made the change to my site the following day.


How to Get Your Book Into Bookstores


I had planned to listen to the attorney discuss copyright law and author liability; however, at the

last minute I decided to attend my brother’s discussion. He is a publisher as I mentioned, but

more importantly at this juncture, he has almost twenty years of experience in book retail. My

background in insurance and liability issues gives me an advantage when it comes to managing

risk in my business. But it occurred to me that my friends and readers may be very interested in

my brother, Robert’s, advice about getting their books into bookstores. It was so good in fact

that I plan to do an entire post on my own blog and a Youtube interview with him on the subject

after the holidays. However, I will share the short of it because it will be of primary concern to

many of you reading this today.


The top three things, according to Robert, that will make or break your ability to get your book

into a local store are:


  1. Quality
  2. Printing cost
  3. Distribution


When someone brings him their book he takes it to the bookshelf where it would be marketed. It

must fit in. It must have an excellent cover, the printing quality and feel must match

commercially marketed books and the price point must also match. If those requirements are

satisfied the only question remaining is one of distribution. If the book is not available through

one of the distributors used by that particular bookstore, it is a serious impediment to

successfully making the transition from marketing to selling.


The lunch break was announced and I took the opportunity to introduce myself to several other

attendees who seemed not to have found companions.


Marketing. Marketing. Marketing.


One of the things that was repeatedly talked about by the sponsors and speakers was the

necessity for marketing.


It was for some, unwelcome advice. But the depth of anxiety about marketing became apparent

in my discussions with several of these lonely writers.


I spoke to two people who had written and self published books. I asked one young lady what

genre she writes in. She asked me what I meant; I explained. Fiction. I asked her about the

target audience for her book. She stared, blinked and stared some more. I prompted her by

saying, “Teen fiction? Young adult? Adult?” She said, “Everyone”. I moved on.


The other person would barely look at me, although he did ask me for some tips on how to talk

to people. I told him about Bill and that Bill offers coaching to writers. He indicated that this

was what he needed. I asked if he would like for me to send him the information. He said yes. I

emailed him a “nice to meet you” email with a link to Bill’s blog immediately after the event. I

never heard back from him. Moving on.


Marketing. You gotta market! That means you have to talk to people. It means you have to talk

to the right people. It means you are wasting your money if you go to an event like that and

don’t take full advantage of the opportunities that present themselves. That means you must be

able to tell people exactly what you need them to know and what you want. I would have been

happy to introduce those writers to my brother had I felt that it would have been worth his time

and theirs; they weren’t ready. This is business. Keep moving.


Maximize Opportunity


My new friends invited me to sit with them to eat. We talked for almost an hour. After

establishing a solid rapport, I was invited to join the Idaho Editor’s Association, a closed group

by invitation only. I mention this only to demonstrate that there are lots of opportunities at these

events and it pays to find people that you hit it off with, relax and just let things come to you. I

had no idea who these women were but none of us were trying to force an agenda.


Meet the Publishers


We finally worked our way to the publishers tables. I had eliminated several based on their

elevator pitches. Fine publishers I am sure, but like my brother’s company, not a good fit for me

or for my book idea.


I was able to ask all of my questions at one publisher’s table and peruse their selection.

Although I did not feel that one of these local publishers fit with my objectives, I did pitch my

idea. As it turns out it wasn’t within the scope of the topics they cover either. Although I wasn’t

that nervous about it, it did offer a sense of relief. I got my first rejection from a publisher!


Applying What Ive Learned


As I helped my brother pack up his display, said goodbye to my new friends and went home to

send follow up emails and organize my notes and calendar, the clock’s ticking seemed less

urgent. It was now simply a means by which to measure progresswith

its steady, reassuring

hands and a face that looks kindly upon me and my work.


Iris Draak 2014

My thanks to Iris for doing such a wonderful job on this post.   Great information, Iris.

I hope you all have a fabulous weekend.  Remember to always be open for inspiration.  You never know when your muse will come knocking.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

19 Responses to “A Guest Post from Iris Draak”

  1. Janine Huldie December 4, 2014 at 4:04 pm #

    I loved meeting Iris here today and sounded like a wonderful opportunity at this conference and am hoping to get to do more like this myself once both my girls are in school full time next year. Thank you though for sharing and wishing you both a great day ahead 🙂

    • Billybuc December 4, 2014 at 4:14 pm #

      Thanks Janine. I don’t know how you do what you do with two little ones. Hopefully the craziness will end for you soon.

    • irisdraak December 6, 2014 at 12:46 am #

      Janine, you certainly have your hands full. I remember those days. My “little ones” are now 5′ 11″ and 6′ 7″ and 20 and 17 years respectively. It does get easier eventually. Except that it’s harder to reach up to hug them now. 🙂 I would encourage you to look into these types of conferences and groups in your area. As I hope the outline demonstrated, they can be chalk full of excellent information. They are also a friendly way to introduce yourself to the local community of writers. Good luck!

  2. Shauna L Bowling December 4, 2014 at 4:53 pm #

    Bill, thanx for giving Iris the podium today. She’s a great lady and talented writer.

    Iris, I’ve never looked into conferences for writers and publishers in my area. I’ll have to do so. It sounds like a great place to network and gets leads for freelance jobs outside the B2B or B2C arena. I would imagine there’s less resistance when surrounded by people who are in the same business as opposed to networking at a community event with businesses of all types. Usually, the attendees at those events are wanting to recruit new business as opposed to spending money to do so. A writer has to do a lot of convincing at those sessions.

    It sounds like you made some promising connections. At the very least, you got your feet wet with pitching. And you survived! 🙂

    Excellent post, Iris!

    • Billybuc December 4, 2014 at 5:08 pm #

      Thanks, Sha. Hopefully Iris will stop by and comment further.

  3. Audrey Howitt December 4, 2014 at 5:01 pm #

    I loved this post Iris. I too have never looked into a writer’s guild or conferences and I wonder if they help the rudderless writers in the world, like me–feel more grounded??

    • Billybuc December 4, 2014 at 5:09 pm #

      Audrey, thank you. My gut reaction is that they certainly couldn’t hurt the rudderless. 🙂 I’m sure Iris will have more to say.

  4. klsilver December 4, 2014 at 9:09 pm #

    Nice to meet you Iris. I’m not going to lie – this was very hard on the eyes. Having said that – you offer a lot of great information. on what a ‘guild’ offers a lonely writer. I wish you all the best and thank you Bill for exposing us to new people and their diverse storiesxx

    • Billybuc December 4, 2014 at 9:14 pm #

      Thanks, Sis! For whatever reason, the word doc didn’t copy properly…probably my fault rather than Iris’s.

    • irisdraak December 6, 2014 at 1:01 am #

      klsilver, I’m not sure what to tell you about the formatting, but I can confirm that lonely writers will find some companionship and comfort in the arms of their peers. And yes, it’s very nice of Bill to post the work of others on his site. I too enjoy being introduced to other writers. Take care.

  5. Sally December 5, 2014 at 12:09 am #

    Well done Iris – it takes a special kind of guts to put yourself out in the big wild world! I am full of admiration for you but then you know I am one of your biggest fans.

    • Billybuc December 5, 2014 at 1:48 am #

      Thank you, Sally. I’ll make sure Iris sees your comment.

    • irisdraak December 6, 2014 at 1:04 am #

      Sally, it’s not nearly so big and scary and wild a world when I know there are people like you in it. 🙂 Thank you!

  6. melissajane14 December 5, 2014 at 1:41 pm #

    Thank you, Iris, for the helpful information. Congratulations on your 200th post, Bill 🙂

    • Billybuc December 5, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

      Thank you Melissa. I appreciate that very much.

    • irisdraak December 6, 2014 at 1:08 am #

      Melissa Jane, I sincerely hope that the information provided helps you in some small way, even if just to offer encouragement. I’m always surprised and delighted by the people I meet. “Writer” does not begin to describe the variety of personalities and topics we represent. If anything these conferences are a delightful lesson in human variation.

      • melissajane14 December 6, 2014 at 2:15 am #

        Iris, thank you for your reply. I am encouraged by your article, and I appreciate that you blogged about it. I currently live outside of the US, so I have to hear about these things second hand. I’ll have to return to the States some time so that I can attend and meet all the different writers. Sounds like it would be worth the trip. Best wishes, Melissa 🙂

  7. Dee December 22, 2014 at 2:59 am #

    I follow Iris on HubPages and have found her articles educational and valuable to writers. She is indeed a fantastic person and lovely lady.

    • Billybuc December 22, 2014 at 4:52 am #

      I agree with you completely, Dianna. Thank you!

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