Brainstorming the Future of Publishing

- by Elaine Isaak

We had some exciting panels today, rife with the sort of tension and subtext we love to write about, an expression of the mingled enthusiasm and worry about the industry that comes from living in interesting times.  But the prognosis overall sounds positive, and the latest AAP information shows that book sales have rebounded to pre-recession levels.

In fact, some of our panelists came armed with statistics (that deadly weapon) suggesting that many genres of commercial fiction sell even better in e-books than in print.  Our readers are early adopters of the new e-readers and are eagerly seeking out our content.  In particular, Lou Aronica of The Story Plant and Donna Hayes of Harlequin shared insights from the divergent perspectives of their publishing experience.

We also heard from agents and literary attorneys, publicists and best-selling writers, both NYT traditionally published like Heather Graham and Kay Hooper, and self-publishing powerhouse J. A. Konrath.  Certainly they all gave us a lot to think about. 

I was most impressed with the third panel, The Future’s So Bright.  We had some great input from the audience, including the fact that the most successful on-line authors cultivate several income streams from their work, not only selling directly, but also selling advertising on blogs or websites, and simply asking for donations from fans.

We were a bit dismayed that Agent Al Zuckerman had to take a call during the panel, but it turned out to relate to a mix-up with his hotel room.  When he said, referring to promotional support that “you can’t count on the agent,”  Donna Hayes pointed out, “He doesn’t even have a room, for God’s Sake!” 

To which an author behind me called out, “He can have 15% of mine!”

It was a nice moment of laughter for panelists and authors alike.

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