This past weekend I spent most of my time in Capitol Hill at the Richard Hugo House‘s writing conference, Finding Your Readers in the 21st Century.
Its focus wasn’t craft, but rather marketing, publishing, publication, and all those other things that writers do that aren’t writing. This is something I’d been hungering for, and I left with an overall sense of hope about my career and writing life.
Mainly, I got two things out of the conference. First, I got a lot of really important nuts and bolts for my own publishing plans. I learned about the Espresso Book Machine, which prints and binds (well!) single copies of books from PDF files. I learned how to approach bookstores with my book, and what a writer’s platform is and how to strengthen mine. I talked to knowledgeable people about how to market my work when it stretches between genre fiction and literary fiction. Et cetera.
Secondly, I got an overall picture of where publishing might be going in the future…and I like it. The traditional vision of publishing goes something like this: Author gets agent, who convinces publishing company to accept manuscript, manuscript is printed and distributed en masse, extra books come back to publishing company as returns. In this scenario, the books are products to be pushed, stuff to be sold just like any other gadget on the market. The new way *might* look something more like this: author makes manuscript, hires editor to edit, then feeds manuscript into Espresso Book Machine, making single copies available to eager readers worldwide who know said author from their online presence. No returns, no agents.
I see self-publishing like this as something that will become ever more popular, although I don’t think it will ever replace traditional publishing, nor should it. But I think that the traditional structure will change in response to a new wave of bad-ass self-publishing. I guess as a whole we’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, I’m trying to have the best of both worlds; I plan to try to find an agent and traditionally publish “Changeling” when I’m done with it. In the meantime, with Freedomland I’m riding the wave of self-publishing (and hopefully self-printing once I talk to Vladamir at Third Place Books!) into the future.
If you’re in Seattle and itching to get your hands on some local writing, check out Pilot Books in Capitol Hill. It’s a tiny store with bas-ass flavor that’s all about local authors.