What I'm reading: Daphne contest entries
Thanks to Ellis for yesterday's post reminding us to love our characters.
Back to Left Coast Crime reporting. One of the 'fun' events was the opening reception. In keeping with the flavor of the meeting, the Rocky Mountain MWA sponsored the entertainment, a buffalo dance by young dancers from the Ohkay Oweingeh Pueblo. (I tried uploading a video I shot with my cell phone, but no telling if it worked.)
There were two panels on publishing at the conference, and I attended them both. The first was made up of professionals on the publishing side of things—agents, editors, booksellers, and publishers.
They discussed writing for traditional publications, and pointed out that different publishing houses have different areas of expertise. If you write a book on gardening, then it's not smart for you to approach a fiction publisher. Likewise, a fiction publisher shouldn't try to publish a gardening book if that's going to be the only one of its kind they put out. In addition, they echoed what's been said so many times: Don't write to trends.
They are also not afraid that digital will replace print. There's room for both. But both panels agreed that the big decline will be in mass market, and that the e-book market will rise to fill the gaps.
One thing I noticed at this panel, was that the speakers seemed to generalize when they spoke of things digital. When they quoted figures, they used royalties and pricing of legacy publishers who controlled the digital formats to their e-books. There seemed to be a blanket assumption that self-published books weren't edited, and were of lesser quality.
In contrast the second panel was made up of authors who had chosen to take their books and publish them as indie-publishers. Here, one pointed out that part of the decline in print books, especially mass-market paperbacks, is due to a change in the tax laws. Bookstores are required to pay taxes on inventory at the end of each year. To avoid higher taxes, they returned books. Publishers followed by remaindering books. Thus, authors who in times past could have a publisher behind them while they grew a following, found themselves left in the cold.
These authors are choosing to go the independent digital route. But unlike the comment made at the first panel, they all spend money on professional editing. They also say they publish in as many formats as possible to make their books available to the widest possible audience. Most pay others to have them formatted for each market as well. Some use services to create print books, but all agreed that their print sales were a tiny fraction of digital sales.
When asked if they made money, one panelist said that for the first time in her writing career, she was able to pay her mortgage with her royalty checks.
I'll be back tomorrow with more.