The Novelists, Inc. conference Brainstorming on the Beach was held at St. Pete Beach on Florida’s west coast. It is the first writers conference I’ve attended where no one handed out promo materials, dropped their bookmarks on a promo table, or talked much about their work. That’s because all of Ninc’s members are multi-published career authors. So you don’t come to this conference to promote yourself. You come to learn and schmooze with fellow authors about issues affecting us all.
This year’s conference brought in many illustrious speakers, pundits in the publishing industry. Here are some of the highlights of what I learned in no particular order:
* Everyone will be reading on their mobile phones in the future. What will this mean for the art of writing? Smaller paragraphs, shorter books, scenic descriptions perhaps replaced by video.
* Ebooks will be the next mass market.
* Think global. People in other countries want to read our work and they want these stories to take place in the U.S. so they can read about our lives here. The demand will continue to grow exponentially. This is a huge potential market.
* Many pirate sites originate overseas where English language content is unavailable. How to combat piracy? Cost and Convenience. Make our work cheaper and easier to obtain.
* Be prolific to build your brand.
* Don’t think of writing as draining your mental energy so you need to refill the creative well. Think of writing as recharging your batteries so that the more you write, the more you’ll want to write. It’s harder to restart the engine so keep it running.
* Publishers need to step up to the plate and provide authors with editorial, distribution, promotion, and product if they’re to be viable in the future. The most important role of publishers continues to be as a gatekeeper for a quality read.
* Social networking is crucial for authors to establish a platform.
* Reviews still drive book sales, and bloggers are the new reviewers.
* Indie bookstores still have tremendous influence. They may still be around after the chains go out of business. Establish a connection with your indie booksellers.
* Writers with a backlist have many different avenues to explore to make their books available to readers again. This is an exciting time because we can bring our stories directly to readers ourselves.
Many of us authors are struggling to define our roles in this new publishing climate, to understand where the industry is headed, and to define our limits for social networking. The beauty of Ninc is that we know we’re not alone. For more details on each panel presentation from the conference, please visit my personal blog.