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I had the opportunity to hear some illustrators and authors. On Wednesday, July 26th, Ellen Oh, E.B. Lewis, Joe Cepeda, and Kent Nerburn provided insights on being published illustrators and authors. The panel was geared toward children’s books at the Fort Smith, Arkansas main library.
I was able to glean a couple of interesting things.
1) The editor is no longer in charge of choosing the author/story to be published.
2) The gatekeepers are not holding onto what is being accepted, rather what is being distributed.
In the past, to be published it was the editor that decided what was chosen. He or she would comb through the submissions in the attempt to find that diamond. That is no longer the case. Today it’s all about the bottom dollar and companies are choosing what is to be published. Not by the good storyline or character, rather how well that story can be marketed, promoted, and consumed by the readers. IE: can we sell it.
A quick Google search will reveal five trade book publishers as the major players. Those are Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Macmillan Publishers, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster. These are the primary U.S. divisions of publishers based in foreign countries.
Outside the big 5 publishers, one can trickle down to the self-published authors or the guy running a shop out of his/her basement. The number of actual ‘publishing’ companies is hard to define.
Thus, getting published is easy, per say. The real power is the channels of distribution. Quantity of sales equals more money for the author, and those authors that have been chosen for their books to be allowed in the main bookstores are very fortunate. When you walk into any well-known book store and see that nice end cap display, it’s not done by the book store, rather the marketing department of the book publisher.
Each submission is filtered down to the group within the publishing company and weighed for its marketing capability, what is currently being consumed by the populace, and how much of a return will it be in revenue. As I said, it’s a business and the dollar weighs heavy on the choice.
Interestingly, all in the panel agreed in today’s book world it’s very difficult and ugly. Very few can actually be successful, much less live off of that work type alone. The very idea of self-publishing made more than one squirm.
The business side was ugly, and I personally do not believe any author or artist really enjoys it. The author and artist have a story to convey and wish that story is given to as many in the world as possible.
Regarding the discussion of self-publishing, many of the panels found it undesirable. After listening to them, I get it. In the author world, once you see that acceptance and the Library of Congress ISBN for your work, it is a mark of ‘making it’.
In every industry, there is a ladder and each dedicated rung of that ladder marks progression. Having that ISBN in the Library of Congress, and seeing your book accepted by distribution to the major arteries of the book stores is the epitome of success.
Having some Joe Blow push his content into a print on demand (POD) and calling himself an author is viewed as an insult for those hustling in the industry. What those stuck in the traditional model do not understand is many of us are simply using the provided new business model for our content. Both require work.
However, as someone working the angle of self-published, I also realize merely having the ability to print your content and seeing it online is not necessarily the end game. There are many of us, simply desiring to see their stories being available to the public. The measure of success differs for each of us.
As the landscape changes, so do the opportunity for that to happen.
I primarily went to take my son and three other awesome kids (Wards). Since, I am the dedicated adult nerd (geek) of the family, I had no problems with it. There were 2-3 panels I was interested in. Thus my agenda was to sit in and splatter questions to the presenters for the panels, while allowing the kids to enjoy the Konsplosion. Two of the three panels are note-worthy.
|11:45 AM – 12:30 PM||How to Write a Novel in 90 Days
I was expecting the speaker to simply say, “Yes it can be done, but it wont be great.” However, author EM Ervin was there as well. Now, for some reason, I could had sworn I came across her before. I inquired with my daughter (who use to be a PA for author Quinn Loftis), but she didn’t recognize here. Regardless, she provided some gems, she has learned being a self-published author. What I found really cool, was the fact, I can relate with her. She works full time in a white collar environment and she doesn’t view the book scene as competition rather let’s build each other up. That, I can definitely get behind.
EM is an interesting person. Very loud, touchy touchy people person. I found her openness in answering questions bluntly very welcoming. Interestingly, she commented on Ben S. Reeder. She mentioned knowing and looking up to him, since he was able to quite his day job and work full time as an author. I had met Ben in Austin, and discussed with him a bit while I had the chance. He told me his story, during that time last year, while I was at Anime Overload August 2015.
Of course, I purchased her first book “Wake Up Call”, getting an autograph on it. The back pages having Ben S. Reeder’s books didn’t go un-notice. I am appreciative with the time and answers EM.
|2:15 – 3:30 PM||Self Publishing and Podcasting||Panel 3|
Yes, another self publishing panel. See my interest now?
This panel was ran by a cool guy, name Earl Green. He runs the website http://www.thelogbook.com. A self-published author and podcaster, Earl was very well spoken. I guess you need to be, if you’re running a podcast. Interestingly, before the timed event (I was there a bit early), he commented on the fear of an empty room. That fear was set aside, when nearly half the room filled up. There is a real interest in self-publication and getting your own personal content out there to share with the world.
Listening to him, and making inquiries, I found it interesting he had been doing pod casting way before writing a book. Over time, he accumulated enough material to be able to compile the information in a book format, and provide it out for those interested. His compilation came into the book,The Escape Pod Logs: 2016 Almanac of the Fantastic & Futuristic. I had to actually look this up, because he never even hawked his wares during the panel. Nor did I see him anywhere in the artist alley with a booth. I think this was a missed opportunity on his part. So, I am promoting it in this write-up. Your welcome Earl. LOL
[Correction: 9.26.17] Earl had a vendor booth, selling. I hold totally missed that. Thanks for the reply and correction Earl.
As a side note involving the technique in providing piece information, then incorporating it into a book , is actually a thing. This same technique was done by Rob Skiba in his book Babylon Rising. Similar to Earl, he was writing a blog, and was able to create enough posts, resources over time to compile into a book.
Back to Earl. It was obvious his first love is podcasting, and providing information out to the audience. I get the feeling the book came out, simply as a means to present it in a different platform. However, I could be wrong. Regardless, he definitely provided a good panel, and was well spoken. Answering every question I had, regardless if I didn’t ask it the best way.
I have only been to three Cons, in my whole life. The primary reason is for the kids, to be honest. This has been only a recent activity in the last 3-4 years. However, when I attend one, I seek out the local authors. Keep in mind, my first Con was before I wrote my technical books. Now on Con three, I am in the process of writing a novel for young adult. I lean heavily on these self-published authors for their experiences. Many are very willing to discuss their experiences. I also find many very humble, and surprised to be questioned about it.
Fascinating to me, is their stories. Why did they get started? What is their end goal? How do you view success? The answers are sporadic, and each tells about the individual person.
Earl said something very true. “The walls are being torn down.” ( I may be paraphrasing ). But the reality is, it is easier now to get your content out, like never before. The old method to keep the ‘in-crowd’ only is no longer viable. We see this in all avenues. Redbox killed Blockbuster. Netflix is killing the mainstream channel lineups. Self-published authors are killing the elite publishers, who controlled which books were provided to the public.
At the end of the day, I think each are simply trying to do their best, and learn from their mistakes. They are just people, trying to provide their unique content.