So I spent the weekend attending several of the panels for the Fall For The Book festival at George Mason University. On Saturday, I made the trip from just over the border in Boothwyn, PA to Fairfax, VA in time to attend the Self Publishing Panel. No surprise, but the attendance for this one was pretty packed.
There were several speakers, including the moderator who runs a blog called http://write2publish.blogspot.com/. The authors on the panel had a variety of publishing experiences. Some were traditionally published and then moved to self-pub, some had a little of both, some had agents and then dropped them. Their books were also in several genre niches: crime, mystery and fantasy. Perhaps the most stunning revelation was that one of the authors admitted to making $47K a month on the sales of their self published books. Others had thousands of downloads. All professed that e-books were preferable to print versions, although many of their audience would buy the print version if they liked the ebook. They also liked the fact that they were completely in charge of their work. They employed editors, book illustrators (or they did their own covers), set their prices and did all of their marketing. Many of the authors were also approached by publishers and agents looking to represent them, which was quite the flip-flop for most authors who are desperately seeking the attention of an agent or an editor (ahem, me). Most of the questions from the crowd was about getting help marketing their book (a whole other topic) and producing their books. Many of the authors said: don’t worry about just one book. Work on your next one. And the one after that. That was the key–if your one book gets some interest, the next one will generate more and the next and so on. I’m still stunned over the 47K a month, though. That’s almost half my current gross salary for the entire year.
The Childrens Book Panel was interesting, but much lower in attendance. It was as everyone wanted to say: “We’re still here!” in the book world because of all the attention being put on Young Adult. I really didn’t pick up too much here since there was discussions of illustrators and tailoring your book for the children’s market.
The Young Adult Panel, which took place at One More Page Books in North Arligton, VA was heavily attended and pretty much what I expected. The authors on the panel were all women, but the editor and head of acquisitions for one of the publishers was a man. The emphasis on the discussion was about “darkness” in YA stories. Dark dystopian stories shave been pretty much the dominant theme in Young Adult for a while: Harry Potter started light-hearted and turned fairly dark. The Hunger Games was brought up more than a few times. The concern was whether these themes were appropriate for the age group intended for these stories. Many authors brought up works from the past, Go Ask Alice, The Outsiders, etc that were considered dark and controversial for their time. The panel was excellent, but it proved to me that YA is an evolving topic. Many authors suggested that following trends would not work and new themes (and covers that went beyond Twilight black , red and white) were inevitable.
I had a great time at the Festival. I even sold a copy of ZAK CORBIN before the Young Adult panel and approached the bookstore about hosting a reading or an event. That and I got to hook back up with some friends made it time well spent.