I know the convention was ages ago, and in the world of FaceBook and Twitter, I should have already blogged about it , but honestly, it took some time to sort thru all the things, photos and memories I brought back with me. I tried to keep the ‘stuff’ to a minimum this year, cause I don’t have room in my house for more paper bound books. I brought back total of 4 traditional books. But have no fear, I downloaded 10 or more Ebooks on my Nook and Kindle (of course I have both).
So let’s get started. Arrived in Chicago (one of my favorite towns) late Tuesday night and found my roommate, Deborah Schneider, already checked into our hotel room. I unpacked (much to her amusement). First lesson of packing for RT, make a list and check it twice and then create a map of where the heck you crammed every item. Me, I think I packed and unpacked 5 times in Seattle before finally getting it right. Except of course, I left the camera at home. But no worries, I did pack the charger and 40 gigs of extra SD cards. Deb was quite entertained watching me dump out every item in my bags and still not finding the camera. Thank goodness she had hers.
We took a quick trip thru promo lane (still pretty bare), then to the hotel restaurant for a nice dinner and to discuss our strategy for the all the events. We really had only one agenda for the whole conference; get as much self-published information crammed into our brains as possible. I think we succeeded.
Wednesday morning we went to breakfast where Jesse the waiter brought us tons of lovely hot coffee. Then we headed off to stand in various lines. There was a line for a convention bag, a line for a name tag and a line for the goody room (free books). Because I had registered early, and my indie book didn’t get published until after that, I had emailed RT about my change in status and my new ‘writing as’ name. But it’s a big event, over 1500 registered attendees, so the email was lost in the shuffle and I had to find a new line for getting my nametag reprinted. So in the meantime I simply put one of my hot Shane (2011 Mr. Romance runner up) trading cards in my name tag holder and waited for a new one to be printed. And waited, and waited. Took two days, but I wasn’t going to complain. Cowboy Shane was a great conversation starter.
First workshop: The Truth about Self-Publishing, panelists: Jackie Barbosa, Lori Brighton, and Kimberly Killion.
My Notes: These are amazing ladies who had all been published by NY, with real book contracts that produced real paperback books in real bookstores. Really! But this industry is fickle and unpredictable and, let’s face it, going broke. These talented ladies had problems selling again and again and again. One would think that after you’ve broken thru the published barrier, getting another contract would be easy. But thousands of published authors would disagree. Shelf space is limited and cleared out quickly and if you aren’t selling thru your print run, you have become an unprofitable risk. What’s a writer to do? Their fans don’t know about all the crazy business politics driving the production of new reading material, all they know is they want more books! What these ladies did was take back their own destiny. They bought back what rights they could and became the pioneer women of independent publishing and the Indie revolution. And it was hard work, but from what I gathered, worth it.
Second Workshop: Digital DIY: The Pros & Cons of Digital Self-Publishing, panelists: Shayla Black, Mark Coker, Sylvia Day, Lindsey Faber and Gemnita Low
My Notes: An interesting and diverse mix of panelists this time made for a lively discussion which Sylvia moderated beautifully. Shayla is prolific writer and simply couldn’t imagine only producing a few books a year for her publisher, so she straddles the world of indie and traditional publishing. Sounds like her publisher doesn’t mind the additional sales her double life brings. Lindsey is an acquiring editor at Samhain, and although she worries that indie authors may not be savvy enough to maneuver through the murky legal waters of rights and distribution, finally had to admit that indie work does have a place in the world of publishing, although she was not very convincing. Mark Coker, on the other hand, wants everyone of us to self-publish, through Smashwords.com, of course. But he recommends first reading his free books about getting it right so you don’t embarrass yourself with a poor product. Oh, and he LOVES piracy. He thinks it’s good for sales. More on that later as it was a hot convention topic and JA Konrath agrees wholeheartedly with the sentiment. Sylvia and Gemnita talked about how to blend these formats and I found the information very useful about how these two forms of publication can work in synchronicity making a better experience for author, reader, distributor and even the publishers.
Last Workshop for Wednesday: $$$ Facts and Figures for Financial Payoff: Mark Coker (founder of Smashwords.com)
Really fascinating workshop of some serious number crunching on Mark’s part. The most important points I gleaned from all the data and charts he presented was this:
- Price your book between 2.99 and 5.99 for highest profitability.
- Almost all Ebooks experience a “slow boil” before they break out.
- Now that your book is forever, don’t worry so much about day to day sales.
- Free and .99 cent books should be reserved for when you have 3 or more books published and especially when you have a series up.
Of course the best part of the day was meeting Andrew Rice, freelance reporter. (see article here)
Wednesday Party: Ellora’s Cave Step up and Stomp. All you need is the pictures for this one. The first one is me looking so bad, then there is my girl, Deb looking so pretty. Then of course, the Ellora’s Cave men had to pose. Pretty, pretty boys!!!