Can I just first say that I’m writing this on Friday June 5 and NOBODY in New York is answering e mail or phone calls? All I get is “Out of Office” replies. Did something happen that I don’t know about? The Apocalypse, or a holiday, something?
(Somebody e mailed me: “It’s called The Hamptons.” Good grief. And they say California is laid back.)
Can I then just add that every muscle in my body is sore, and that’s just from driving? I mean, it’s not like I’ve been climbing mountains or river rafting or any of those other – things – that usually give me these industrial size bruises. How do you get bruised from driving?
Hmm, I have another marathon driving day today. This could get ugly.
All right, what was I going to talk about?
These days as far as blogging goes I’m a lot more comfortable tallking about craft, but no craft today, because I’ve been Out There for the last two weeks, promoting THE UNSEEN. As we all know, we authors drop everything to do with writing when the book is released and we have to go Out There and promote.
Call me a masochist (and you’d be about 20 percent right, maybe less, maybe more like 10 percent), but I kind of like the frenetic physicality of promotion.
I like Mapquesting all the bookstores on the way to whatever signing or con I’m on my way to and doing the hit and runs. Drivebys. Whatever. I like the adrenaline rush of running in and signing stock and being charming… more or less. I like the ever-changing scenery, I love being alone on the road and not having to think, or being able to sing intricate harmonies to any number of songs for ten hours at a stretch; I especially like being able to justify buying and drinking five or six frozen mochacchinos a day, which is, like, a week’s worth of calories I think; and I really, really like having a great excuse for not writing.
Although I am beginning to suspect that I may be doing myself more harm than good when I try to do bookstore loops at That Time of the Month. I don’t THINK I killed anyone on the drive from NY to Virginia, but I wouldn’t swear to it in court. It’s a little worrisome.
Anyway, desperately trying to get to my topic through this fog in my head – I was in NY signing THE UNSEEN at the Book Expo America, where it was very, very, very, VERY obvious that our industry is in a state of transition.
This would be my – God, this is pathetic, but – either third or fourth BEA – I just can’t keep track of these conventions any more. It was definitely the smallest BEA I’ve been to – far, far, fewer people on the floor, and alarmingly few galleys. Macmillan and Dorchester didn’t have booths at all. And I was told by sales people from several different houses that hardcopy galleys are done – it’s all going to be e galleys from now on. Some of the authors in the chutes had only 20 or 30 books or galleys to give away.
Which means we all have fortunes on our shelves, I guess!
Attendance at BEA was apparently down 33 percent. Well, 66 percent of humongous is still pretty damn big. And I think the smaller size helped those of us who were out there working it – the Mystery Writers of America booth was positively MOBBED because we had books when even the pub houses who had booths didn’t have the giveaways, and the Horror Writers of America booth got some great traffic as well, even though it was only our second year of participation.
It was thoroughly great to be there – just as always I felt I got a half a year’s worth of business done in a weekend.
However, I had one overwhelming impression of the show this year. It was pretty obvious to me that e books are the inevitable future. And I can be slow that way, let me tell you. But the future is now.
I talked with a lot of librarians who say e books are becoming more and more popular, and of course libraries can stock MANY more titles that way. And that is the whole point.
I have no particular insight about it, except that I can tell you that while I was drifting around BEA, it felt like the e book revolution had already happened, and people were just trying to get their bearings, and figuring out how to deal with it.
When I was on strike with the rest of the WGA, the screenwriters’ union, the central focus of the New Media issues was delivery systems. Well, this is what we’re talking about with the Kindle and the Sony reader. I’s a delivery system. The content is ours. It still has to be great, it still has to be vetted and edited, or good God, someone might take a chance on a download, but if it’s crap, no one’s ever going to download another book of yours again. But it’s possible that we are going to have more control over our content, and have to assume more responsibility for getting it out there, than we ever imagined when we were just going into this book thing… but at the same time we are going to get more of a percentage of it than ever before.
Which is kind of thrilling.
Other of the Rati have blogged much more intelligently on Kindles and Sony readers and all that than I am capable of at the moment, especially because, well, I don’t have either of them and don’t have much to say about them. But I did, instead of rambling on like this, want to link to what I think is a VERY interesting blog by Joe Konrath about his recent e book experiences.
I don’t myself have a “shelf book” – every book I’ve written so far has been published or is scheduled to be. And i strongly believe that every book you put out should be your best work. I would think that publishing “shelf books” – unless you are POSITIVE that that book is every bit as good as everything else you’ve published – carries the danger of diiluting the reputation we’re all trying to build for ourselves. Not a great idea, in my opinion. How does that saying go? “The secret of being a great photographer is you throw away the bad pictures.”
Same with writing.
But there is a book I’m thinking of going “e” with. It would be an interesting experiment.
Only – I guess that means I actually have to buy one of those things and figure out how to use it. Could be a problem.
Are these thoughts going through your heads, too, ‘Rati? What do you think? And are there any dedicated a book readers out there who will weigh in on this for us?
Now, on the road again!
(In between driving I’m doing a non-type A, unKonrath kind of blog tour for THE UNSEEN. This week I have stops at Murder She Writes, where I talk about character archetypes: “Goddesses in Everywoman“, and my friend Diane Chamberlain’s blog, where I talk about location: the haunted house that I used in THE UNSEEN and how growing up in California influenced me as a writer.)