I am addicted to books. I’ll confess right now that I can’t go anywhere without a book. The format doesn’t matter. Kindle, iPad, or tree-based physical books will all serve the purpose. You’ll find books in my car, in the bathroom, in the bedroom and the den. Sometimes I’ll read three at once, usually in different genres. But as my Amazon wish list grows longer, so do the piles of books in our house. We have crates of them spilling over into every room.
Some books I’ve gathered at conferences, others in goodie bags at various book events. Some authors have sent me their work for endorsements. And of course I have to buy the books my friends write. Then there are my favorite authors and new writers to try. So many good books to read, not enough time!
You say I can save space if I give up the physical tomes and settle for digital? The futurist in me fears an electromagnetic surge/weapon/solar flare that will knock out our electronics. Where would I be then without a paper book to hold?
No matter what format books take in the future, I can’t live without them. I need a story to transport me to other places and other times, to experience adventures I’ll never have in my lifetime, and to learn about different ways of life and people. Storytelling lies at the root of the human experience. Even if the delivery methods change, the need for this form of expression will not go away. So join me, and read a book today!
“Brainstorming on the Beach” Conference with Novelists, Inc.
Here are my notes, keeping in mind this is what I heard and my interpretation.
Lou Aronica, Publisher, The Story Plant
Donna Hayes, Publisher and CEO, Harlequin Enterprises
Al Zuckerman, Literary Agent and Founder of Writers House
Carolyn Pittis, Senior VP, Global Author Services, HarperCollins
Heather Graham, NYT Bestselling Author
Alan Kaufman, Literary Attorney
Loriana Sacilotto, Executive VP, Editorial & Global Strategy, Harlequin Enterprises
Angela James, Executive Editor, Carina Press
“Publishers are moving toward digital publishing because consumers want it.” Ereaders will be hot over the holidays.
A digital world offers no returns, no print production, and a different distribution avenue. It’s a very big opportunity for writers and publishers. Genre readers have adapted to the technology faster than others.
Neilsen Bookscan (if I got this right) reported $40.6 million eBook sales in one month. The Kindle is responsible for this explosion.
The competition, i.e. B&N, Borders, Amazon, and Google, are growing awareness of this product. What will really shake things up will be Smartphones. This is the next big opportunity. People who don’t own dedicated eReaders will have global Smartphones. Even eReaders may disappear in favor of these devices. The deciding factor is how long brick and mortar stores stay open.
See this article “Verizon Wireless Brings Kindle Experience to Android Smartphones and Other Devices” at http://bit.ly/9LypQG
Lou: He doesn’t distinguish between print or eBook writers and publishing houses re prestige. Readers want interaction with writers. You must connect in some significant way with your readers. The only way you can stand out from the pack is to market yourself, no matter the publisher or the format.
Regarding whether you should self-publish or go with an epub, Lou reminds you that epubs can manage the different streams of income. Convenience is a major factor to going with an epub for now. If eBook sales equivocate to print sales, perhaps these epubs should begin offering advances.
Print publishers have to set up a new infrastructure while maintaining their legacy print operation, but there may be casualties as their margins are very small.
Angela: Digital first authors may choose to go with an epub because they want to write something different or they want to start out in a smaller market. It doesn’t mean they’ve been rejected by the major houses as many perceive it.
“You don’t want to just publish a book. You want a career.” Authors are small business owners and have to market themselves.
Carolyn: How do pubs and authors collaborate together as partners in a new business model to sell more books? The major houses have to figure out how to reduce costs on the print side while increasing their investment in digital. Readers care about what reviewers think and what their own friends like. They care about a good story. She believes too much technology (i.e. enhanced eBooks) may interfere with this experience, at least for fiction. It might work better for nonfiction.
Alan believes things may look similar in five years if the general trade publishers acquire the eBook publishing houses. Then those pubs may in turn be acquired by Google.
“Publishers act as gatekeepers. This is their most important function. If they aren’t around to do that, who knows what’ll be out there?”
Harlequin is already ahead of the game because it has Carina Press. Angela says other issues like DRM and pricing will change the landscape.
Other issues mentioned in the panel were consumer pricing and the strong trend toward price reduction, demographics and the behavior of younger readers and their purchasing habits, and the foreign market which is hungry for content.
Books on Tape, Large Print Books, Book Club Selections, Digital Editions…Are you aware authors may have split these rights with their publishers, meaning the publisher has to pursue them? Readers often ask me why I don’t put my books into audio or why they aren’t available for a book club choice through the mail. I have to explain that it’s up to my publisher to obtain these deals. Unless my agent retains 100% of these rights in my contract, I don’t have any say in this matter. And our retaining these rights isn’t always the best choice.
Publishers deal in volume and have more widespread contacts, so they may be in a better position to sublicense those rights. Sometimes that means they’ll push their favorite authors or their bestsellers and the rest of us midlisters get dreck, but there isn’t anything we can do about it. Don’t you think all authors would love to see their books on audio, made into a film, or available to book clubs nationwide? And even if we could pitch them ourselves, not all of us have the skill or the connections. A bigger agency with a subrights division could do it, but they’d probably be interested in the same thing as the publisher: push their bestselling authors. And there’s a reason for that. I once queried an audio publisher myself. Their response: they only take on bestselling novels. So it’s a self-perpetuating issue.
What can you as a reader do about it? Write to the author’s publisher about how much you’d like the book in xxx format. Put up good reviews on all the online reader sites. Hand out the author’s bookmarks to your friends, libraries, and local reading groups. Suggest their book as your local book club selection. And keep buying the author’s newest release or insist that your librarian order it. It’s the sales figures that count. So if it takes a bestseller to obtain subrights, who else to better help the author get there than her fans?
Novelists, Inc. members include multi-published authors of all genres of popular fiction. Ninc has just begun a new newsletter, NINC BLAST, which includes information about our authors’ new and upcoming releases, as well as a “Did you know?” feature with tantalizing, little-known factoids about some of your favorite authors. To subscribe to NINC BLAST, please go to our Website: http://ninc.com/ Then scroll down to the middle of the screen, where it says, “Let NINC BLAST you. ” Simply click on the pale blue envelope, then follow the protocols.
In a romance, the Big Dark Moment is the crucial juncture when all seems lost between the hero and heroine. He stomps away and she strides in the opposite direction, and it seems as though they will never be together again. How can they overcome their insurmountable obstacles? Will love triumph in the end?
Of course it will. The prerequisite for a romance is the HEA (Happy Ever After) ending. But for this HEA to have emotional impact, our characters first must experience the painful Big Dark Moment when their relationship seems hopeless.
Tossing a cog in the story wheel isn’t the way to go about it. This confrontation must arise naturally from the character’s internal conflicts. Take Paz and Jen from my WIP.
Jen is a fashion designer who looks as svelte as her models. For years, she struggled for parental approval. Growing up in a wealthy family, she internalized her mother’s superficial values that appearance matters. But she yearns for a man who can appreciate her for herself and not for her looks or money.
Drift Lord warrior Paz Hadar isn’t the rich businessman she’d expected to snag, but he brings out her strength and resourcefulness and admires her bravery. Yet when she tries to discuss their future together, he clams up. He’s planned for nothing beyond this mission, and so she figures he’ll leave her in the end. Paz, in turn, gets angry when she pushes him for his plans, believing she can’t accept him for the person he is and wants to mold him into the ideal man. And if he’s not good enough for her, forget it. And so he stomps off. Jen feels he doesn’t care enough about her feelings to truly confide in him.
Thus they go their separate ways, until each one realizes how much they need the other. But by then, Paz seeks to prove himself by attacking the enemy all on his own. Jen rushes to his side, but it’s too late. He’s been…well, we don’t want to give the story away.
Action and reaction propels the story forward, leading to the Big Dark Moment and the final confrontation with the villain. And when Paz and Jen finally commit to each other as we know they will, we’ll heave a deep sigh of satisfaction. Sour before sweet, despair before joy. It makes the ending all the more Happy Ever After.
Will libraries become a relic of the past when books turn digital? Like in a Dr. Who episode, will there be one vast library that’s a repository for the entire world, the sole remaining place holding dusty shelves? That was a cool couple of episodes with David Tennant starring, by the way. Think about the trees cut down to produce all that paper and where those once living trees might have come from. Anyway, will libraries, with reduced funding as an additional obstacle, still be viable ten years from now?
If you think of the library as a multi-media center, then I believe the answer is yes. Besides books, movies, and music, public libraries offer free classes on a variety of topics, meeting rooms, computer centers, literacy and outreach programs. And did you know you could order digital books from the library to download to your eReader? You can probably research whatever you want by accessing library services online, too.
A recent article in an AARP bulletin for seniors reports about how Queens Library in New York holds a phone-in discussion group twice a week. Participants dial in at the prescribed times and chat about books, recipes, current events topics, history, and more. It’s a great way for people to keep in touch and have human contact when they can’t get about so easily. The library’s mail-in program supplies assisted living facilities and homebound individuals with reading materials, movies, and music. These are great services for people who want to benefit from their local library but don’t have the means to get there.
It appears as though the role of the library in the future is to expand rather than to shrink. So donate your used books to your local library, join the Friends of the Library and support their fund-raisers, and give your librarian a big hug of appreciation for all her efforts.
For the first time in my publishing career, I’m creating a character grid to keep track of my characters. I’m doing this three-quarters of the way through book number two in the series because it’s essential for what comes next.
It wasn’t necessary for my earlier Bad Hair Day mysteries because those stories all featured Marla Shore, hairdresser and amateur sleuth. We, the reader, viewed everything through her eyes.
But the paranormal romance series I’m working on now features warriors from the stars who join forces with a special group of Earth women to prevent a coming cataclysm. Each book involves a different warrior and his destined mate. Book One sets the story into play and creates the world building elements. By Book Two, my characters have scattered and each one has a specific job to accomplish. When all the guys come together at the end of this story, I have to know what each of them has been doing.
Have I confused you yet? It’s complicated, especially when you add my two villains into the mix. How are they reacting to the heroes, and what countermeasures are they taking? Figuring out this grid is giving me a headache, even though I have most of these details in my notes.
For those of you who write series with spinoff characters, what methods do you use to keep track of each character’s movements?
Are there times when you feel brain dead or too tired to think straight? Never fear, you can still accomplish something by doing a mindless task. Here’s a list of boring jobs to do when you want to be productive without much mental effort.
Organize your Internet Bookmarks or Favorites
Verify that the links are still valid on your Favorites list
Verify that the links are still valid on your website
Update mailing lists and remove bounces and unsubscribes
Transfer files from floppies (if you still have them) onto your hard drive
Back up your files to other media
Clean out and sort files on computer and in office drawers
Erase old messages you don’t need to retain in Email folders
File papers in your To Be Filed stack
Do research for your next scene
Convert your old version word processing files into latest version on your computer
Search for and eliminate duplicate photos and files