What I'm reading: contest entry #4 of 4
I'm writing this shortly after walking in the door from the Pikes Peak Writers Conference. It, like all conferences, was exhausting, but in a good way. I'll be recapping the highlights. And, apologies in advance, but Blogger has had an issue with posts going up when they're scheduled in advance. Much as I love you all, I'm not getting up in the wee hours to keep to my normal posting schedule. If this hasn't posted when I get up, I'll do it manually, but bear with me for any deviations from my normal posting time. Not only that, but they've changed their interface, so there's yet another learning curve for me. I'm thinking I'll be over at WordPress before too long.)
First, for anyone interested, dinner with Robert Crais was FANTASTIC. I have no clue what I ate, but the conversation was a delight (as was the wine). I know I'm a writer, and consider myself a 'regular' person, but even so, there's something "larger than life" that kicks in when meeting a REAL writer. But he's a 'regular' person, too. At his keynote address, he shared emails from readers who took him to task on everything from grammar to accusing him of padding his books by having blank pages between chapters.
Over the course of the conference, I attended 3 workshops on the publishing industry, and it was also a frequent topic of discussion over meals, and from keynote speakers. I'm going to hit the highlights rather than recap each individual workshop.
Mark Coker, CEO of Smashwords, spoke not only about his publishing company, but also about publishing in general.
Until recently, you weren't considered a "real" author unless a big-name publisher bought your book. With e-publishing, it's possible to succeed on your own, and perhaps make more money. But don't count on it. If that's why you're writing, you're setting yourself up for disappointment.
The most important part of success in publishing is: WRITE A GOOD BOOK. (And this includes making sure it's well-edited.)
Second: have a good cover. Your cover needs to convey what kind of book it is. A romance cover should look very different from a thriller cover. Readers who are misled will be disappointed, are likely to leave bad reviews, and not buy more of your books.
Coker shared some statistics gleaned primarily from Smashwords books sold at the Apple iStore. As far as making money, the lowest yield are from books priced at 99 cents to $1.99. The sweet spot for profit seems to be in the $2.99 - $5.99 range. (Maybe I should raise some of my prices???)
Although people once thought e-books were a way to publish short stories or novellas, statistically, the best-selling e-books are about 110-120 thousand words.
If you're an indie publisher, odds are you're not going to do well in print.
**(Personal experience substantiates this for me, which is why I haven't rushed to put my backlist back into print after I've published them digitally. I've sold about 1500 digital copies of my two original books, and 8 print copies.)
From other speakers, including Donald Maass, Jeffery Deaver, and Robert Crais: Writers are storytellers, and have been since the days of the cave man. It's all about telling the story, not the medium in which it's delivered. Stone tablet, parchment scroll, typed on a manual typewriter, printed, electronic, audio—it doesn't matter. The platform changes, but publishing will survive.
Writers can change people's lives. We can make them think, laugh, cry, and bring them a way to escape their everyday lives. In addition to the critical e-mails Crais received, he shared another from a soldier who said Crais's books saw him through his deployment.
As writers, we should be looking forward, writing books that the next generation will read and remember.
More posts to come, including some great sessions on forensics, but tomorrow, my guest is Karen McCullough, who's talking about magic and science in fiction.
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