In the beginning, when I was trying to sell my first novel, I had a weird experience of editors really wanting me to write, sort of magic realism set in the Caribbean, or about recent immigrants with a magical ability (I’ve had two editors actually give me that logline and ask if I’d be interested in writing that story, but it’s just not there for me, I’ve got other stories still to tell). There was a strong sense that, hey, this is how you can be marketed as a Caribbean novelist.
Being sold for only slightly more than the revenue you brought in the prior year isn’t exactly a signal that anyone believes the company has a lot of growth potential, especially not one whose roster theoretically covers the full gamut of shiny author services so many seem to believe are publishing’s revenue streams of the future. Plus, ASI was apparently on the block for a while with no buyer, so I find Penguin’s CEO John Makinson’s claim odd, as reported by Publisher’s Lunch, that he expects there will be a “new and growing category of professional authors who are going to gravitate towards the ASI solution rather than the free model.” So then, what’s the real angle here?
We are not anywhere near the digital future yet with comics. There is so much exciting ground to be staked out! We just need a new publisher, or a collective of coders, comic writers, and artists. I think the latter is more likely than the former.
Inspired more by friends like Chuck Wendig, Will Hindmarch and Jane Friedman than Joe Konrath, et al, and emboldened by everything I learned from working with Joshua Tallent while running Digital Book World, my goal for the project was two-fold: do enough of it myself to have hands-on experience of what it takes, what’s “easy” and what isn’t; and to get the monkey of finally publishing this particular book off my back!
Right now, the relative ease of digital publishing — not yet the equivalent of blogging, but getting closer every week — and the exceptional successes of a relative handful of authors masks the larger challenges ahead for authors and publishers alike, regardless of their business model: discoverability.
It doesn’t matter if you’re an aspiring writer, traditionally published or going the DIY route, marketing is every writer’s responsibility, and it takes the same level of commitment, dedication and self-discipline as sitting down and actually writing does.
Beyond the sessions, the best part of any conference is being able to spend time talking to smart people from a variety of backgrounds, and both WDC11 and DBW11 are sponsoring fun gatherings to accommodate that.