Sunday, 26 August 2012

Kindle is Hungry!

Last weekend I attended the RWAustralia Conference on the Gold Coast in Queensland. For the past three years, they've included an extra 'Author Day' on the Thursday ahead of the weekend.

Romance Writers of Australia
Here's what I picked up from the Author Day at conference.

The mood
Last year, there was a sense of confusion from all corners. Authors were nervous, pubishers were even more nervous. This year, the balance has shifted into the author's favour. Because of the popularity and price advantages of ebooks, authors can build a reputation all on their own and make a great career. Not all authors, of course, but this was never the case with traditional publishing either.

It's the top 5% that get all the glory - with epublishing and traditional.
(Kind of like weight loss. Only 5% of people ever lose weight and keep it off. Loads of industries are the same, it's only the top 5% who really make it. Wow, it really is lonely at the top).

Kindle is hungry.
Readers who buy electronic books are voracious. If they like an author, they want the next book, now please. Authors need to have three or four books ready to go, one after another, if they're looking at going digital first.

Your best promotion is your next book. (There's something that hasn't changed.)

Indie or self-pubbed writers - the more you relentlessly promote, the more you push people away. Kate Cuthbert quoted us some surveys that have found those who promote the most on social media have the least overall sales.
On the other hand, those who write the most (ie, spend all their time writing the next book instead of promoting the last one) build a stronger following and sales because they have more to offer and their focus is on the writing, not the promoting.

Once readers latch on to an author, they want more.
Kindle is hungry.
Be ready with three books at least.
Then have more ready to go.
What, you've only written one book? Get writing!

Even published authors get the blues.
Writing is a solitary endeavour, but when I'm with a whole stack of authors it makes me realise I'm not so alone. It's an incredibly tough business with no guarantees. Often an editor at a publishing house wants to build an author's profile, but the decision is taken out of their hands by 'bean-counters' who must answer to shareholders. It's a business, but I can't help wishing it were more like a sheltered workshop some times.

Agents are awesome
Loads of praise for agent Helen Breitwieser from Cornerstone Literary in LA, who gave us insights into what's going on with publishers in the US.

Writers have options
It used to be, in the romance industry at least, that Harlequin/Mills & Boon was the holy grail. Get in with them and you'd be set.
Not so much any more.
Lines keep changing, or are discontinued, and authors were getting dumped. Romance is a multi-billion dollar industry, but that doesn't mean they'll continue a line if it's not paying its way.
BUT, with more information comes more choices and options. Yes, authors are still busting a gut to get 'in' with HMB, but they're not seeing it as a lifelong career any more. It's more like "I'll write for them to get a following, then branch out on my own."
Which brings me to my final point:

Self-publishing is not career death
A few years back, self-publishing (and I'm talking e-books mostly) was seen as career suicide. If your book was already out there, no publisher would touch it. It would be 'tainted' with the stench of desperation and failure.
Not so any more. Self-publishing direct to Kindle, Smashwords, Kobo or wherever else, is now seen as a legitimate way to grow an audience - while you keep writing book after book after book.
As traditional publishing becomes more risk-averse, and the bean counters take over, editors are looking for more ways to make a good investment. It makes perfect financial and creative sense to hunt for an author who has done all the hard work and built a following already.


Margaret Midwood said...

Thanks for sharing your take on the conference and Author Day Ebony.

The whole ebook thing rumbles around in my head. I'm still a fan of the real book but can see the advantages of an ereader.

Margaret Midwood

(better feed that Kindle!!)

Ebony McKenna. said...

Hi Margaret, thanks for calling by,
For me, it doesn't matter how I read the story (ie, paper or electronic reader). The factor for me is "how soon can I get my hands on it and start reading this?"

And yes, Kindle is hungry! :-D

Valerie Parv said...

Well said, Ebony. IMO the mood at conference was largely positive, focussing on new opportunities rather than old business models. Exciting times to be writing.

Ebony McKenna. said...

Oh wow, thanks so much Valerie.
The mood was so much brighter this year, a real 180 degrees from the uncertainty of last year. And I loved that they had so much more information about digital and self publishing. It really was a well put together conference.

Anonymous said...

I think the mood has changed from the prior year because the market has changed, last year things were very uncertain, in 12 months much has changed and there are a lot more "real" opportunities for authors to build a career. It would be a sad day if the phenomenal success of 50 Shades had no impact on the mood of romance writers.

Ebony McKenna. said...

So true,
The market has changed so much in the past 12 months.
I bet this time next year we'll be stunned by how much more it changes.

Julie Manning said...

Will this be released in paperback format in australia

Ebony McKenna. said...

Hi Julie,
thanks for coming by my blog,
To answer your question, the Ondine series is available as ebook only at the moment.
The first two titles are still available as paperbacks from second hand retailers, but they've sold out from regular shops.

Which is why I moved to ebook only for the next books in the series. The ebooks will always be on the shelf and therefore nobody misses out, Plus, the worldwide distribution is much more affordable as ebooks than as print.

Book 3 is available as ebook only and book four (release is set for the same time as the Eurovision Song Contest) will be ebook only.