Publishing, RNA, Writing

Back To The Future…RNA Conference 2014

A Small Selection…

I spent Saturday, 12th July at the Annual conference of the Romantic Novelists’ Association. It was held at The Harper Adams University (how often did I almost say “Harper Collins”?) in Shropshire. Despite a day that started at 4am and a total of five hours’ driving, I haven’t had so much fun in a long time.

The biggest problem I had was deciding which talks to attend. In the end I settled for  Carol McGrath’s “Bringing Mediaeval Women to Life”, Jessica Hart/Pamela Hartshorne’s “One Author, Two Genres”, Alison Baverstock’s “Self Publishing Trends” with Hazel Gaynor, Ian Skillicorn’s “Going Solo”, and a couple of symposia on the future of publishing industry. It’s almost impossible to pick out individual highlights as there were so many, but discovering Jessica/Pamela is another writer who’s a devotee of The Sunne In Splendour was definitely right up there with finding out how easy it is (allegedly!) to turn files on a MAC into .mobi files.

As I only had a day ticket, the worst part was coming away and leaving everyone after the last talk of the afternoon. On the other hand, the overflowing goody bag I was given definitely softened the blow. I arrived home with a teetering TBR pile, and a week’s supply of chocolate (which I virtuously handed over to DD and Son No. 1) and biscuits (which I dunked and downed before they could set eyes on them).

I’m definitely going to sign up for the whole conference in 2015, when it’s going to be held in London. My only worry is that if choosing which talks to attend for a one-day visit was tricky, it’s going to be a lot more difficult when I have to select options for a long weekend!

If you’ve never attended a writers’ conference before, try and get to one. Writing is such a solitary business, it’s good to get out and socialise. Conference, like life, isn’t just about writing.You’ll learn a lot about people, too–and it’s characters who drive great storytelling.

Come on, all you seasoned conference-goers! Which one do you like best, and why?

Christina Hollis, Ebook, Mark Coker, Publishing, Smashwords

Smashwords: The Future of Ebook Publishing at RWA 2012

Here’s a fascinating insight into the present and future of publishing by Mark Coker of Smashwords: Smashwords: The Future of Ebook Publishing at RWA 2012
At first glance, there’s no limit to how much the self-published ebook author gains from this bright new dawn. The route to conventional publication is tough, and prone to detours and roadblocks. Cut out the middle men (and women), publish your own work and you’ll bypass a lot of heartbreak.

On the other hand there is an unpleasant truth that must be faced. Conventional publishers have many reasons for turning down books, and one of them is quality control. Russell Lynes, one time editor of Harper’s Magazine said: “Every journalist has a novel inside him, which is an excellent place for it.” The rush to publish isn’t necessarily good, or advisable. Victoria Beckham or Prince William could easily become million sellers overnight with self pubbed editions of “What I Did On My Holidays”, but it would be an awful lot harder to shift many copies with that title if the author didn’t have either a glamourous media image, a title, or both.

And another thing. Despite the explosion in titles on the market surely the number of readers worldwide must remain pretty constant. Once the initial thrill of the new technology has worn off and everyone who’s likely to buy an ereader has one, maybe the market will settle down – and that’s before we get around to pricing. There’s an old saying: “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?” There are thousands of books on the internet downloadable for free, whether legally or illegally. The relentless driving down of prices is good for the reader, but not so good for the author and disastrous for small independent booksellers.

It’s good to see authors taking the initiative, but how long can these trends continue?