e-Publishing Adventures, Part I

Since childhood I’ve been intrigued with The Twilight Zone, the TV series hosted by Rod Serling.  In it, sci-fi, fantasy, ghost story, and social commentary merged and blended, tossing the characters into a different dimension.

That’s how I’ve felt since late June, ever since I stepped through the door of the NYC Marriott Marquis.  It’s as if I’ve moved into Serling’s land “of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas.”  I feel as if I’ve just crossed over into a 21st century Twilight Zone.

E-publishing by author has been around for a few years.  Amazon launched the first generation e-reader in late 2007.  In 2008, Mark Coker launched Smashwords.

Writers began not only to write and edit their books, but also to format and self-publish them electronically, thus reaping the lion’s share of the royalties.  They began to shout out their success at conferences, workshops and on social media – blogs, FaceBook, Twitter.  Others took notice.  Over the past year, these matters in publishing have reached critical mass.

RWA’s 2011 National Conference in New York City buzzed with electric energy about e-publishing.  e-Energy I’ll call it.

Before the conference I mostly ignored it all.  Arrogantly.  Naively.  But I couldn’t ignore the buzz at this year’s RWA National.  Nor the stories of folks like Joe Konrath, Courtney Milan, and others.   Writer friends like Mary Stella (and others) have stepped up to self-publish their out-of-print books.   Multi-pub authors are turning down NY offers in favor of author e-publishing.  Eyes open, they launched books and are generously sharing their experiences.

After I came home I talked about the RWA e-Energy buzz with my family.  They encouraged me to go forward, to put some of my work out now, to learn about the process.  To keep the project a manageable size that could be accomplished quickly, I pulled a selection of favorite musing type essays from this blog, Stringing Beads, enriching and updating as needed.  I created my own cover, edited the small book and formatted it according to specifications.

And thus, Stringing Beads – Musings of A Romance Writer was conceived, and born.  This 15,800+ word e-book is the first child in what will be a large blended family.  If you are interested, the e-book is available on Amazon or Smashwords.  I’m keeping the initial price low.  If you don’t own an e-reader, did you know Amazon has a Kindle e-reader you can download on your PC – free?

In my next post I’ll write about the steps I’ve taken as an author e-pub, and what I’m learning along the way.  As others have before me, I’ll post regular updates of my progress.

Keep writing, dear friends, and keep reading.  Can’t have one without the other.   ♥

Wednesday & Thursday at RWA National

The days at RWA National are passing in an exhilarating haze punctuated with moments of crystalline clarity. This is an amazing time for writers and the energy is evident everywhere here in New York City.

Steve Berry, Diana Gabaldon, Tess Gerritsen

Early Wednesday, three NY Times best-selling authors – Steve Berry, Diana Gabaldon, and Tess Gerritsen officially launched RWA’s 2011 Bright Lights, Big Stories Conference with a 90-minute chat about their careers.  Their ease, candor and camaraderie set the tone for the coming days.

The Annual General Meeting of RWA’s Board of Directors (aka AGM) followed. My volunteer assignment was handing out budget summaries to attending members. When the doors closed, we took our seats. After a few brief reports, the meeting adjourned. Although 2,100 are attending the conference, no quorum meant no business could be conducted. Reason enough for members to return their proxies.

Madeline Hunter’s candid keynote luncheon address Wednesday was all I expected and more. “In the past year,” she said, “writers have exhaled one long sigh…I’m excited and scared to see what comes next.” In taking us on her writer’s journey, she offered a guidebook for our own journeys.  “We expose ourselves in our writing,” she continued.  “Our voice is all about that exposure. We find our voice by embracing the exposure but we cannot back off.  We cannot pull punches.”  Wow!

Sherrilyn Kenyon

Sherrilyn Kenyon‘s award luncheon keynote on Thursday took us on an emotional roller coaster bringing tears and laughter to the audience of 2,000+ writers in the Broadway Ballroom.  Another amazing, no holds barred speaker.

Phenomenal workshops!  Each hour, eight separate tracks let us hone in on a valuable area. While there are only a few scheduled that address e-publishing and self-publishing (no longer called “vanity”) those are the words heard everywhere and speakers are addressing this amazing writer’s evolution.  Perhaps the word “revolution” is more appropriate.

KOD's "Death by Chocolate" Party

The chance to meet and chat with fellow writers abounds in workshops, at evening parties, in elevators, and lounges.   This year the conference is spread out from floors 4 through 9 of the Marriott Marquis. For the first time in memory, ladies’ restrooms don’t have long lines. Escalators or the smart elevators are quick, efficient.  So is the friendly staff.

Last night I met my niece for dinner.  A Tulane student, she’s in NYC on a summer publishing internship.  (Personal note to editors or literary agents looking for a hard-working, loves-to-read assistant in May 2012…Casey’s your girl!)  Last time we met was on our Charleston trip and before that in Paris when she studied abroad in Vienna. Our paths cross in the most amazing places.

As dawn broke this morning, I lay beneath the comforter with words racing through my mind. On this last day part of me can’t wait to get back into the bustle of Conference. But I have stories to write, and characters whose voices grow ever louder. Someone, can’t remember who, said that networking at conference is important but that writing is critical. We are not writers unless we write.  Seems obvious, doesn’t it?

Last day ahead, and tonight are the RITA’s and Golden Heart awards.  More about that tomorrow.  Meanwhile, I invite all writers attending to share your insights, or links to your blog about this amazing conference.  What was your favorite part of RWA National 2011?