Self-publishing is where many of our members–people with long traditional-publishing histories–are focused these days
The post on the NINC conference yesterday generated a lot of good comments, including the following from Laura Resnick:
I think Friedman has done an excellent summary of various sessions some of the overall take-aways from this year’s conference (I was there).
As she notes in her piece, it’s a conference unlike any other. Whether traditional or indie, the focus of the organization has always been on experienced mid-career novelists, rather than for new or aspring writers (which most other conferences and organizations are geared to assist and educate (or fleece)).
The conference is heavily focused on the indie market these days (and this year’s theme was the international market for indies) for several reasons–
Self-publishing is where many of our members–people with long traditional-publishing histories–are focused these days. (One of my Nink columns last year was about how many writers, including bestsellers, are leaving traditional publishing to go indie full-time.)
Self-publishing is also the area we don’t know enough about, partly because it keeps evolving so rapidly (so there is always so much more to learn and probably will be for quite some time), and partly because this form of publishing is the one we have NOT already been doing for 10-20-30-40 years, whereas most of us have long traditional careers and have frankly don’t get that much out of hearing publishers, editors, and agents speak at conferences, since most of them are still staying the same things we’ve already heard them say dozens (or hudnreds) of times–because we’ve been around since cuneiform was the hot new thing.
And even for members like me, whose career is still probably about 90% traditional, being indie savvy is crucial, because for most career novelists, self-publishing is and/or will be a major aspect of one’s career from here forward. For most writers, controlling one’s own backlist makes the most fiscal and professional sense. Many of us may well be on our last-ever traditional publishers. (My hand goes up. I am very happy at DAW Books and hope to keep working with them for many years, but since every experience I had with other publishing houses for 20 years was somewhere between bad and truly nightmarish, I may well indie publish anything I don’t license to DAW, rather than ever deal with another publisher again. This is business, not ideology, so I make no fervent vows about it; but I’ve had so many bad experiences with so many publishers, I do have trouble defining what would make me want to trust another with my work ever again.)
Meanwhile, speaking of indie-friendly Ninc, I was chatting with the 2016 Nink editor, who was just appointed (and as a columnist, I wanted to make sure I’ve still got a job there, since editors can change format, fire columnists, hire new ones, etc.), and she mentioned that she’s never submitted to a publisher. Her career as a novelist has been indie all the way.
. . . .
Some highlights of the week for me were the workshop presented by Gareth Cuddy from Vearsa, which focused on very specific tips, tools, and techniques for indie writers to think like and run their writing businesses like competitive start-up companies. (The fact that Cuddy is a cute Irishman with a charming accent had NOTHING to do with my paying rapt attention to him.) Draft2Digital (who have a lot of clients among Ninc members) also gave a couple of excellent workshops–and they were lots of fun at the bar, too. There was a very detailed session on using Booktrakr, presented by its creator, which I liked, since I have trouble learning software. Trajectory was really interesting, though they made my head hurt (lots of graphs and numbers). Germany’s Matthias Matting got a lot of members very enthused with his detaiked, step by step discussion of breaking into the German language market as an indie (excellent session, though it mostly convinced me that this process is not for me, and may never be). BookBub’s session was excellent–and so crowded that I could barely find a scrap of floor to sit on (the chairs were full before I got there). Courtney Milan’s session was excellent, too, though I missed a lot of it; she talked about how to figure out which of your marketing efforts are working. Amazon had a big presence, as they usually do at Ninc; I only attended one of their sessions, but I got a lot out of it (possibly, though, because I’m still pretty far behind the curve in indie; it may have been remedial for someone more advanced than I am).
Everyone who was there will have different take-aways, since there was multi-track programming most of the time, so we all attended different things.
My least favorite session was the Authors’ Guild presentation. Nothing in their presentation about contracts, rights, and reversion was inaccurate, but their information and advice seemed like it came from the 20th century and was mostly aimed at aspiring writers and newcomers, rather than at experienced career novelists making a living in the 21st century.
My FAVORITE presentation, though it’s not relevant to professional self-education, was Eileen Dreyer and Sally Hawkes session on their summer trip to Belgium for the reenactment of the Battle of Waterloo. Their presentation was simulanteously hilarious, fascinating, and moving. If you look up their blogs, I think you can find their blog accounts of that trip.