On Saturday I participated in three panels. The first of which was ‘THE BIG IDEA’ hosted by John Scalzi. I met John Scalzi at BEA shortly after RED came out. We were both writing for Tor at the time. He was kind enough to let me be part of ‘THE BIG IDEA’ on his WHATEVER blog. He was as nice as I remembered and just as funny. The panel consisted of Cherie Priest (who is truly a bundle of energy and quite humorous in her own right), James A. Owen (who told a story that nearly made me cry), Kevin Hearne, and Sam Sykes (who happens to be Diana Gabaldon’s son–though after meeting them both I can honestly say that at least on the surface, he’s nothing like the lady). This particular panel turned out to be quite low key. I think everyone was wiped from Friday night’s revelry. We discussed the ideas behind our books, tried not to praise John too much (though it was hard to do), and discussed the community that exists among writers. As John succinctly put it, there are two types of writers: Ones who believe that if another writer sells then they are taking a spot away from them and ones who believe that when any writer succeeds it can only help the others. For the most part, the panel fell into the latter category. The panel ended with Sam threatening to set fires outside the room. I think he was joking. Maybe.
The next panel up was ‘Urban Fantasy Authors Go To Town’. The group consisted of Allyson James, Cherie Priest, Me, Kevin Hearne, and Yvonne Navarro. Basically this talk centered around the trends in UF and how to keep stories original and unique. Obviously much of it had to do with adding twists to the same old stories that have been done to death. Kevin actually did something really smart before writing his Druid series. He went to the fantasy bookshelves to study what was there. He discovered there were next to no Druid stories on the shelves and purposely chose that subject for his UF series, knowing it would stand out. (Smart man.) We talked about location a lot. When UF stories first started to become popular, they were set in cities (hence the name ‘urban fantasy’). Charlaine Harris blew that out of the water when she set her creatures in a small town in Louisiana. Some of the things that came up in the question part of the program focused on the difference between UF and Paranormal Romance. As I’ve said multiple times here, for me, the difference between UF and PR is UF’s main focus is NEVER on the relationship. PR’s main focus is ALWAYS on the relationship. Many of the folks in the room were concerned about PR taking over UF. Personally, I hope that never happens because I TRULY love urban fantasy, whether it’s set in a city or a small town.
The final panel of the day was called, ‘Getting the Word Out’. The group consisted of Gini Koch (who has twenty-five years in direct marketing), James A. Owen, Me, and Weston Ochse. This was a lively discussion. Much like the ‘Being a Newbie Writer’ panel, Gini and I disagreed on a few things. I understand and respect where she’s coming from given her serious sales background. She hits all the social media sites and devotes many hours of every day to promoting her books. She believes if you don’t do this, then a new writer will not have a career. Hell, she may be right. I certainly didn’t do a lot of promo when my books came out. I did some (mailings, bookmarks, postcards, signings, ads, etc.), but certainly not the level that she’s talking about. I know my differing opinion comes from the fact that I HATE hard sells with a passion. I will leave a store, if someone tries to pull a hard sell on me. I want to be left alone to look around and browse. I also know several authors who never did a darn thing to promote their books and they hit the NYT Bestseller’s list. So if you’re not comfortable doing a hard and continuous sell, then you do have options. We also disagreed about when an author should get a website. Gini thinks they should wait until they’ve gotten a N.Y. book deal. IMO, I think you should have a website the second you take the writing/art/music seriously. It holds you accountable and gets you used to producing content. Gini’s also pretty against (not totally) self-publishing. I understand where she was coming from. I think every author should at least try to sell their work to N.Y., if for no other reason than to prove to yourself that you can do it. Which brings up another point…I love that I have the option to self-publish my work if I choose to do so. It has been a truly freeing experience and has brought back some of the passion that has been lost over the last 9 years in publishing. BUT, (you knew it was coming) I don’t believe that this ‘windfall’ will last. It reminds me a lot of when erotic romance first started selling well. There was a ton of excitement and quite a bit of money to be made. Everyone jumped on the bandwagon and tried their hand at writing it (much like the self-publishing boon). I don’t believe that self-publishing will go away, but I do believe that the royalties will change eventually and not be quite as wonderful for the authors as they are at present. I really hope I’m wrong, but my gut says I’m not.
As an aside, I seem to be having trouble responding to folks on sbcglobal.net. Bridgid, I really hope you’re reading this. I’ve tried to write you three times, but my server is being blocked by yours. I have sent a message to try to get it unblocked, but so far nothing has changed. To answer your question, Fall From Grace is currently only available in paperback at Ellora’s Cave and will only be available until June 22, 2011. I do plan to release all the Atlantean’s Quest books in ebook format this year. Redemption will be up next. I’ll probably release it sometime in July. Thanks for you patience and understanding.