Thoughts from Thrillerfest; Discoverability; Nightstalkers and Whatever
For those who check my blog out and follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably noticed a bit of ‘ghosting’ on my part. A fading out. At West Point one of the keys to getting through Beast Barracks and Plebe Year for some was to ‘ghost’. To not be noticed.
The primary reason for that is I am on deadline to deliver Nightstalkers (Area 51) at the end of this month. I’m on track to do this and love this book. I pitch it as The Unit meets Warehouse 13. It’s a combination of the hard core action of my thrillers, an edge of paranormal from my Area 51 and Atlantis series, and more snark than usual for me, like the books I co-wrote with Jennifer Crusie. By the way, I just signed the film option for Agnes and the Hitman.
Another reason, though, is I feel we can overdo social media. To a point where it actually hurts us. There are only so many ways to say the same thing over and over again. Also if you take one side of whatever ‘brawl’ is going on, it means the people on the other side aren’t going to be too happy. And, as I’ve said over and over, I don’t believe there are sides other than people doing what’s best for them. I blogged about this on Digital Book World. Speaking of which, DBW is running a conference in September: Discoverability and Marketing 2012 with some excellent speakers. They’re running a registration discount of $125 off if you use promotional code BOBMAYER which, well, is cool. Never had my own discount code before. I’m putting my money where my mouth is since I’m going to this conference and so is my business partner Jen Talty. Since the key to book sales now is not distribution, but rather discoverability, we feel it’s a critical conference to attend. I listened to Jon Fine from Amazon speak before (at the Whidbey Writers Conference) years ago. In fact he got me started on pursuing a stronger working relationship with Amazon culminating in a three book deal with 47North for the Nightstalkers books, the first one being published on 11 Dec.
Which, someone pointed out to me, is the day before the world ends. So, OF COURSE, that would be my pub date. My wife and I often joke that if I really succeed, it will mean the end of the world, we just didn’t realize how literally we should take that.
Oh yes, Thrillerfest. Pretty much business as usual in NY. With a whole lot of fear layered on top. It’s another interesting change in that when I attend a conference now, I spend very little time actually attending the conference. I pick a few key workshops or panels, do my workshops and panels, but the rest of the time I’m in meetings with people. Or writing like crazy. Friday was a good example. Jen and I took meeting with agents reference foreign rights; talked with another self-published author who had some great ideas, some of which we’re implementing and hopefully we gave him some good ideas; I did a virtual booksigning with audible (note my cool landing page at Audible with 28 titles live and more coming); then we did an hour and a half workshop on the future of publishing that evening.
Whatever. When people approach us about having Cool Gus Publishing do their backlist or their non-fiction (which is pretty much all we’re looking for now) the first thing they always ask is: How are you going to market me? And Jen and I look at each other and sigh. Because while we do market, it’s really not the key. It’s rather hard to explain to someone what we do and why they need someone to do it for them. We had a conference call Thursday night with an author I’m really hoping we can bring on board with her backlist. And it took about 45 minutes before I sensed she got it. She understood eBook publishing is an organic, not static process. Also, a key is the stuff we do at conferences: always searching out better and innovative ways of doing things. And, even more importantly, making connections with key players at Amazon. Barnes & Noble, Kobo, (anyone actually seen a live Apple rep?) and other places.
Which is why we’ll be at the DBW Discoverability conference in September. By the way, that discount runs out Friday midnight. So it’s decision time.
I also want to leave you with a fundamental concept that is at the key of the changes in publishing: The product is not the book. The product is the story. Writers create stories. Readers consume stories. How that story gets from writer to reader concerns all the people between the two, but it can go in print, digital (audio or eBook) or sign language. But we have to break ourselves from the notion that the book is the product. Story is product.