Friday, August 3, 2012
The Future of Ebook Publishing at RWA 2012
Pay attention to romance. Study it. Read it. No other genre does a better job of getting inside the heads of readers, especially female readers. Even if you write thrillers, mysteries, historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy or even horror, your books will probably get better if you study romance. Romance writers are among some of the finest storytellers of interpersonal relationships. If you want your readers to care what happens next to your characters, study the masters.
Romance readers are voracious book consumers. This is where you'll find the book-a-day crowd. Romance authors were among the first to embrace ebooks, and were some of the first authors to adopt ebook publishing best practices such a series writing, free series starters, low prices, unified and compelling cover design, author branding and reverted-rights publishing.
So it was with great appreciation that I accepted the invitation to speak at the annual Romance Writers of America (RWA) 2012 conference in Anaheim last week. They invited me to give two presentations. The first presentation was before their Published Authors Network group, and the topic was The Future of Book Publishing. I've embedded the presentation at the bottom of this post. The second presentation focused on ebook publishing best practices.
Rebecca Forster, and like a good romance writer she advised me, "tell your wife no worries. You came home to her!"
I met with multiple authors at RWA, and it was cool to see so many of them are already using Smashwords to publish and distribute their books.
My talks would have been considered blasphemy just a couple years ago. Now things are different.
During one of the luncheons, the keynote speaker spoke about how ebook self-publishing is creating exciting new opportunities for authors. Sitting beside me was Delle Jacobs, another romance bestseller, long-time RWA member, and Smashwords author for over two years (view Delle's author page here). Delle was near-giddy with excitement that such pro-indie sentiment was now front and center at RWA.
The hallways were abuzz with the same excited talk about the opportunities presented by ebook self-publishing. Later I met with Smashwords author Bella Andre (view Bella's author page here), who had just learned several of her titles would would appear in this upcoming week's August 5 edition of the New York Times bestseller list. If you've ever spent time with Bella, you know her love of romance novels, romance readers and romance e-publishing is infectious. What you may not know is that she, like many successful romance authors, is a smart business woman. She graduated from Stanford with a degree in economics. She studies romance with the analytic precision of a neuroscientist. If you knew how much she's going to earn this year self-publishing romance ebooks, it would probably blow your mind. Bella is not alone in her success.
The incoming president-elect of RWA is the incomparable Sylvia Day. Her Bared to You, published and distributed by Penguin, has been on the New York Times fiction ebook bestseller list for 11 weeks. Sylvia has also been publishing at Smashwords for over two years (view her Sylvia's author page here). Sylvia is one of a growing number of professional authors who realize the opportunity to operate in both worlds of indie and traditional.
These worlds are complementary to each other. Success in one world feeds success in the other. Authors who participate in both worlds will become more valuable to publishers, but also more expensive to sign. That's good for authors.
If you think these successful romance authors are random flukes, or the beneficiaries of a passing fad, you're underestimating them. These authors are the future. Learn from them.
The indie movement has gone mainstream with romance authors, and it's transforming the lives of writers for the better. I left the conference with firm conviction that the future of book publishing is brighter than ever for those authors who place themselves on the right side of history. Authors who delay their embrace of indie publishing will find themselves sidelined by those who have already seen the light.
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