Archive for the 'Publishers' Category

AWP Recap

Dear Readers:

I recently attended the annual AWP conference which this year was held in Denver, Colorado. As usual, it was a stimulating conference, highlighted by the huge book fair and exhibit. Last Thursday I moderated a panel called, “Writing Biographies: Making Someone Else’s Story Your Own,” (panelists: Phillip Lopate, Honor Moore, Robert Root, Kim Stafford and Joy Castro). I was thrilled that the conference room we were given was filled to its capacity of 350 persons. I was also delighted that there were two Santa Barbara attendees – Paul Willis and Glenna Luschei. I thought the panel went as well as it could have gone.  I bow to my stellar panelists – you all shined and I thank you!

There were many highlights at this years’ event – Michael Chabon was a keynote speaker and he was hysterical. Although I have not read any of his books, he has inspired me to do so. On Saturday, writers from THE SUN Magazine gave a great reading featuring editor Sy Safransky and writers Steve Almond, Alison Luterman, Ellen Bass and Frances Lefkowitz. The stories made us laugh and cry—just what we want our readers to do. There were quite a few panels discussing the role and future of small presses, and others addressing the future of book publishing. Here’s a summary of one panel I attended which was moderated by Mary Gannon, the editorial director of Poets & Writers. The panelists included agents, editors and publishers. Mary did a fabulous moderating job and she and the panelists left me with many issues to They all gave me many thing to ponder, such as:

1)    The new technology (ebooks) will make readers out of those who are not readers.

2)    There will no longer be professional book reviewers, but the readers or actual buyers of the books will do the reviewing. Book promotion will be done via word of mouth, in the same way people spoke about books in the past—passed on to friends during lunch, coffee and in the same way independent store owners suggest books to their regular customers and book clubs.

3)    Nielsen’s BookScan which has been in place since late 2009, is a monitoring and analysis service which monitors English-language books by providing weekly point-of-sale data. It tracks about 75% of retail sales which includes chains, independent stores, discount stores and  internet retailers. This service now gives publishers the chance to see how many books of a particular title were sold, so if a big publisher is thinking of taking on an author who was published by a small press, they can tell exactly how many books were sold and if sales were low, they might decide not to take them on.

The way I look at it, this is good and bad news for authors, but either way, we are entering a new era in the book industry where not much is predictable except one thing and that is  that our  children’s children may not even know what a paperback novel is. In many ways I feel sorry for them, but in other ways I’m excited for them because the technology might inspire more people to read. I’m not sure this affects those in their 50s like me who has not yet used my Kindle which has been sitting on my desk now for two months. I thought it a good idea to get ‘with the program,’ and buy one, but somehow, I just cannot bring myself to use it. I grew up in libraries and the paper books are a part of my blood.

I’d love to hear how you feel about the book publishing industry—where you think it’s headed and how you feel about it. Please write into my comment section here.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!

Diana

Writing and Tooting Your Horn

Publishers used to be involved in both the editorial and marketing aspect of  most (if not every) books they  launched. These days, unless you are a New York Times bestselling author, publishers do little in the way of aggressive marketing, regardless of the size of the publishing house.

It has been said that authors must do their fair share of marketing. Most authors, myself included, would prefer to spend their time writing rather than promoting their books, but the truth of the matter is if we don’t do some marketing, our nearest and dearest friends, family and colleagues, may never know about our book.

I am lucky because years ago I had a small publishing company and therefore I understand some basic marketing techniques which over the years have become second nature to me. I have learned to do something much against my grain, which is to ‘toot my own horn.’

In the November 16th issue of Publisher’s Weekly there was an article called, “Blame it On The Rep: When An Author Has to Sell His Own Book.” The content of the article really hit home with me. I love the opening line, “Along with developing a patent for a cordless extension cord, being a writer was one of my life’s goals.” This is in alignment with my belief that most of us are writers not because we want to be one, but because we have to be one. It’s a passion that pulls us. Michael Spradlin, the author of the article, began his career as a publishing rep and then began writing his own books, a similar track to my own.

The biggest difference is that when I wrote my first book in the 1980s, The Internet was not a vital part of modern living like  it is today – but selling and reselling postal mailing lists was the best option for reaching an audience. I licked one too many stamps for envelopes announcing my latest book. These days, authors do not have any excuse not to market themselves. When Penny Sansevieri’s book, Red Hot Internet Publicity was released a couple of years ago – I devoured all her tips and ideas – something an author can do in the privacy of her home, without the risk of having doors slammed in her face. This new dimension to our profession is here to stay – whether our books are in book or kindle formSo all you writers out there, promise me when you finish reading this entry, you will change screens and announce to at least one person what you are working on or what is your next release! Don’t rely on others to do what is now your work.


Quote of the Week


"A writer uses a journal to try out the new step in front of the mirror."

~Mary Gordon

About Me


I am a memoirist, essayist, poet and teacher whose passion is keeping a notebook. My notebook is my muse and my alter ego. It contains personal snippets of my life and observations from the world around me. Diarist Anaïs Nin has been a great source of inspiration for me. My hobbies include writing, writing and more writing, but when I have extra time, I enjoy reading, walking, hiking, yoga, working out, cooking and hanging out with my family and Maltese Poodle, Spunky. In order not to become ensconced by the glare of my computer screen, I also teach in the UCLA Extension Writers' Program and in various conferences and festivals around the country. My pleasure comes from sharing my joy of journaling with professional writers and anyone interested in writing.

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