roh morgon

~shifting directions

Here we are, nearing the end of the fourth month of 2011…

I can’t believe the year is already a third over. Time flies when one is buried in both work and writing.

For those of you who occasionally check my blog, I apologize for my long absence and appreciate your loyalty.

The last several months have been a wake-up call for me. It all started at the San Francisco Writers Conference in February, where the predominate message on how to get published was nearly 180-degrees from that of last year’s conference.

In 2010, the traditional route to becoming a published writer  (i.e. via agent, publisher, etc.) was still being promoted at the conference as the smart and secure way to go. Those who were venturing into self-publishing were viewed with shaking heads and whispers of doom. But at the same time, some folks were watching the risk takers–and taking notes.

Several major events in 2010 and early 2011 indicated the wind was beginning to shift in the other direction.

The number of e-book purchases sailed past hard copy numbers in several categories, firing a warning shot across the publishing bow that the whole world felt. The bankruptcy of Borders was a direct hit, the first of many salvos that are continuing to rock the publishing industry.

The February 2011 Conference was aflame with the recent Borders news, yet highly optimistic about the changing publishing climate. And sessions on self-publishing, or indie publishing as it’s now being called, had an equal presence with those following the traditional, or legacy model.

In March, a new storm hit the publishing world as established author Barry Eisler walked away from signing a two-book, $500,000 contract with St. Martins Press to publish the books himself. And a week later, self-publishing darling Amanda Hocking signed a four-book $2,000,000 contract with the same St. Martins Press.

Needless to say, these two events left many folks scratching their heads.

But when it comes down to the dollars, both decisions make perfect sense. Barry retains control over his story and his release schedule (it can take up to two years for a book to hit the stores after signing with a publisher). What’s more important, and the deciding factor in his decision, is that he can earn more in the long term by publishing the books himself than he could using the traditional model.

For a little insight into Barry Eisler’s choice, check out this conversation between Barry and Joe Konrath. A follow-up to that post can be found here in Part 2.

Amanda Hocking, on the other hand, gained a legitimacy and recognition that is difficult for self-published writers to attain. She also now has a team behind her to take care of much of the publishing details, freeing her up to do more of what she loves–writing. To read about her decision, I encourage you to visit Amanda’s blog.

As for Amanda’s accounting, some would argue she could have made more by publishing those four books herself. But I don’t think she’s going to be hurting for money, because she still has her self-published titles that are selling well. And as print readers discover her books and visit her website, her self-pubbed works will keep selling.

Ultimately, these two authors did what they felt was in their best interests, and no one should question their decisions.

But we can watch the results of those decisions unfold, and learn from them.

I know I am, and I know which direction I’m heading.

I realize the self-pub route is difficult and requires a lot of work. But so does the traditional, and if I go that route, I have an uphill battle (see December’s ~biases in publishing).

My posts will be infrequent over the next several months as I re-position myself to publish on my own. I have a number of changes to make, both to blog and website, and a lot of preparation to get Watcher ready to hit the market by my target date.

So continue to check back once in awhile for news about the paradigm shift that is shaking up the publishing world. It’s a revolution that’s been a long time coming, and I’m excited to be a part of it.

roh morgon @ Friday, 22 April 2011 3:03 pm
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~hello, world

Yeah, it’s me.

Where have I been, you ask?

Walking the stone halls of Starhaven with Sullivan as he tries to regain control of the mess that he’s made of his life. He’s decided that he wants his story written, and written now.

The last thing you want to do with a rebellious teenager is to ignore him when he finally opens up and spills his guts to you.

And so I’ve been devoting every spare moment to writing his story, which meant that husband, friends, and blog all had to take a backseat for awhile.

But I can no longer afford to ignore any of them (especially my husband). And as I’m learning here at the San Francisco Writers Conference, I can’t afford to ignore my blog anymore, either.

Today has been incredible – and it’s only the first day! I’ve met new people and reconnected with old friends, listened to sage advice and cried at the words from inspirational speakers.

But the big buzz this year is about the state of the publishing industry, and how much it’s changed in the last twelve months. Borders’ bankruptcy declaration is but the tip of the iceberg as the publishing business restructures itself for the digital age.

It’s a new world out there folks, and, to borrow a line from renowned editor, Alan Rinzler, now may be the best time ever to be an author.

roh morgon @ Friday, 18 February 2011 6:06 pm
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The San Francisco Writers Conference

I recently attended the San Francisco Writers Conference (http://www.sfwriters.org) held February 12 – 14. Let me say just one word about this conference – AMAZING!

Well, actually  I have a few more words than that to describe this fantastic gathering of editors, agents, writers and other folks within the publishing community. A lot more.

Let me start with saying I met some fascinating and talented people during the course of the conference. The variety of interests, backgrounds, and works of these professionals is astounding to this newcomer. It was like stepping into a bookstore – even though some had similar titles or maybe even similar areas of focus, each one was unique and full of surprises.

People are like books. They are walking stories filled with the scenes and chapters that make up their lives. Some fit in specific genres, others are crossovers, or slipstream, or whatever you may want to call it. And you never know what’s inside until you crack open the cover.

One person I met was a former military pilot. That’s all they said about their time in the military. But as conversations developed with this person, I started listening to the variety of places they’d been in, and realized this was no ordinary pilot. Moreover, it wasn’t what they said, but what they didn’t say, that made me realize the special ops background of this person. Talk about a rich palette of landscapes and experiences to draw from! But I also understood that it wasn’t all fun and adventure. You don’t walk away from that business without haunting memories of loss and regret. I felt fortunate to have met this person and wish them all the best (out of respect for them, I’ve used the genderless ‘they’ intentionally).

And that is really what the primary purpose of this conference is – to meet people, to network, to make connections. Agents and publishers come to these conferences to see old friends and find new talent. You are given opportunities to ask questions, have your writing reviewed, and even submit your work to professionals who normally don’t accept unsolicited material.

The seminars and workshops that take place throughout the day are filled with information on both the technical aspects of writing and how to navigate the rough waters of getting published. I gained insights from every one that I attended and regretted missing many of the others.

The conference schedule was quite impressive. There were five to six workshops every hour, along with other activities, beginning at 9:00am and ending at 7:00pm (or later). Many of the presenters only speak at one or two conferences per year, but this particular one seems to be favorite.

The Larson-Pomada Literary Agency ( http://www.larsen-pomada.com/lp/index.cfm ), is California’s oldest, and is the primary sponsor and host of the SF Writers Conference. Michael Larsen and Elizabeth Pomada put San Francisco on the publishing map when they moved from New York and established their agency over 40 years ago. Thanks to their efforts, San Francisco is the second largest publishing center in the country (New York is the first for those who are new to the biz).

So if you truly want to get published, then you need to make a point of attending writers’ conferences. They are held throughout the year and I strongly encourage you to invest in your writing career and attend one or more. Who knows – you may meet the person who can open the door that will allow you to see your book sitting on a shelf in your local bookstore.

roh morgon @ Wednesday, 24 February 2010 6:19 am
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