Happy New Year, writers! With 2012’s arrival comes further rEvolution in the publishing industry. Despite the fundamental shakeups in brick & mortar monetization, diminishing hardcopy distribution channels, the “liberation” of authors from legacy press via Smashwords, Kindle, Nook, Scribd, et al, plus the ubiquitous social media hype insisting writers do what, for most, routinely yields only misguided efforts of “platform building,” few book sales and even fewer precious hours to actually plunk ass in chair and write–one affirmation from nearly every front still holds true. What is that singular, irrefutable, truth? What is unquestionably that one lone, immutable fact? It is this: A story that sucks sucks equally as much in any form it’s published. We’re going to deal with that come February.
A Writer’s Reality Check
Writers write. Writers finish what they write then rewrite it until it’s really finished. And once what they’ve written is really, really finished they go write something else to finish. Somewhere in the middle of all this is the hardest work: selling what you’ve written. On Jan. 3, 2011, I posted the following in this space, electing to re-post it here today because it remains true and I don’t like re-wording a post just to conceal having already addressed the issue:
[O]ne thing we can all agree on is that the Internet has come of age in such a way as to fundamentally change the way publishers, agents, authors and readers relate to one another. The old days of doing book-business are done, this the modern author knows. Thing is, how to fully exploit the potential afforded by all the social media buzzwords being bandied about to truly maximize (and monetize) the modern author’s work?
A turning point has occurred, a sea change if you will, a sweeping, virtual tsunami of such immutable fury that the modalities of traditional publishing have suffered a full-on fiscal wedgie the likes of which it’s never known.
The Era of the Modern Author has arrived. Today is the writer’s day. Today is your time. And the modern author doesn’t have time to waste. Yet, wasting time on ineffectual marketing efforts that do not translate directly into book sales is what far too many authors today are doing.
While the prospects for launching a book by a new author successfully are now perhaps greater than at any other time, the challenges of doing so are many; the decision to go Big Six, indie press, self-publish, e-book, then wrestle the various aspects uniquely inherent to each, are myriad.
Unfortunately, today publishers expect you to do the work for them. For the most part they print the book while relying on you, the writer, to sell the book. Will you? Can you? Should you?
Online, it’s about eyeballs. From provocative book trailers and author profile videos to dynamic personal websites and global social networks, readers everywhere plant their eyes on the Internet to discover new authors, mingle with up-and-coming authors, or simply stay informed about the progress of a cherished author’s next book.
Landing those eyeballs on your book can make all the difference between breakout success or a swift dip in the remainders bin. For the modern author, falling victim to much of the hype surrounding “platform” building and “branding” can result in a time-suck of such magnitude that finishing a next book, let alone successfully launching the current one, may seem impossible.
In February, we’re going to drill through a lot of the noise out there in effort to clearly identify and understand the options available to the modern author, the risks involved in choosing one manner of publication over another, what truly matters in establishing a platform and the building blocks to do so, the reality of e-books, and, ultimately, how to better utilize your time in order to get back to what’s most important: writing.
While in February, yes, we’re drilling in deep again to address these issues, with particular emphasis on revealing ways authors can strategize more smartly and implement winning, time-conservation tactics for building their online profile & viability, Wes and I and many on staff are getting back to where we belong. That is being quality storytellers, storytellers whose work warrants being paid for, storytellers whose work that readers invest in doesn’t piss their readers off so much by sucking that they actually end up losing readers.
Word gets around. The $1.99 price point won’t save you (especially if your book jacket blows, but we’ll let a workshop deal with that issue).
A quality writer aspires to being the best, most rewarding writer for a reader that one can possibly be. A quality writer is not one who spews unpolished, poorly edited, uninspired prose that time and again fail to deliver on expectations roused in the reader. The most sly, clever marketing, “branding,” can’t conceal a story that sucks. Even at $1.99, fail to rise to the level of professional storytelling that I expect from you as a reader, and you’ll likely never get another penny out of me. Also, it’s quite likely I will “unfriend” and “ignore” you.
Additions, Extensions, Experiments
Evolution. Exciting times in the book world, as we all well know. Rolling with the changes, especially for the debut authors, can be particularly rollicksome. Authors long established–cutting their bones, say, in the early ’90s or before, are seldom up to speed on the realities authors trying to break in today must deal with. What’s cool is those that are making it happen and can report from the trenches on how they did so. Cathy Lubenski, former career journalist and author of Trashy Chic, her debut novel (check the jacket out up top), will be joining us as a Special Guest Speaker… Also on the forward thinking, evolutionary front is Beattie B. Youngs. The author of some 36 books translated into 28 languages, a Pulitzer Prize nominee and all-around, genuinely human being, empowered by a profound faith in and admiration of writing that matters, Bettie became a publisher a few years ago and has been going gangbusters. With high-profile clients and authors anew in her house, she’ll be joining us as a Special Guest Speaker, as well as conducting a workshop… Frederick Ramsay returns, this time as a workshop leader and Special Guest Speaker. Fred’s success as a novelist began as a conferee at one of our first SCWC*LA events. That manuscript became his debut novel Artscape, the first in his popular Ike Schwartz mystery series which debuted in 2006. In February The Eighth Veil: A Jerusalem Mystery, his 10th book in five years, is out from Perfect Niche. He’ll tell us all about how he writes so much, so well, so fast, at the conference.
Lots of staff added to the schedule these past few weeks, so be sure to check ’em out. Given the typical lapse in December updates, the Early “Bard” Discount has been extended to Jan. 15. Also, the “Write Your Life Story in 150 Words” contest has been extended until Sunday afternoon of the conference. Apparently, word’s not getting out on that, so total fail on our part. My fault. Will make it up.
Much more soon.