I’ve been attending writers’ conferences for over thirty years. Over those years, my reasons for attending may have changed, but I have never walked away from one without having made a new friend and learned some valuable lessons. In the lonely occupation of writing, friends are everything, probably more important than the lessons learned.
It was at a conference in the late 1990’s that fellow writers first told me about e-readers. Shortly afterward, at a reader’s conference, my fans showed me their new toys. My interest was whetted well before today’s amazing e-book industry. If romance readers would read on electronic devices, why shouldn’t I have books available for them to read? My editor and agent—major figures in the publishing industry— had no interest.
At another conference a few years later, we heard a speaker who told us about the “long tail” of electronic publishing—and for someone with as large and useless a backlist as mine, I was captivated by the notion of those books earning money again. My friends and I stayed up well into the night discussing the possibilities. Even though we had no idea how e-books worked, all of us there that day went out and started demanding the rights back on our Out-Of-Print books before publishers saw the writing on the wall. We are the ones who first pushed our backlists onto the charts years later.
During the formative years of e-publishing, my fellow writers and I discussed how to become our own publishers. We set up our own bookstore websites. Some of us learned to format. Others joined together to form co-ops to combine our knowledge and aid in promotion. If it weren’t for the friends I’d made at conferences, I would never have known how to do any of this. As it was, I became involved in several very early publishing efforts. In the process, I learned enough about the e-publishing business to start teaching my editor and agent. And I had the rights back to all my out-of-print stories and had many of them formatted before publishers had any idea of the sea change they faced.
And astonishingly enough, after I began selling the backlist electronically, I had editors come up to me at conferences and ask if they could reissue those old books in print.
If I have learned nothing else over the years, it’s that the book business changes constantly. Without networking at conferences, listening to speakers, talking to other authors, I never would have known about self-publishing and would never be earning money for books that had languished in a closet for decades.
And now I’m in a position to work with a community of writers who have set up our own publisher and bookstore for original books as well as backlist. I’m finally free of New York’s restraints. My next book with our author co-op is under my Jamie Quaid pseudonym, an urban fantasy called Giving Him Hell releasing on September 30th.
Today, e-publishing is a fact of life, but there are still enormous hurdles to be conquered. I hope to impart some of the information I’ve learned to you at California Dreaming. And I truly expect to learn more from others attending the conference. We’re writers. We communicate. See you there!
Patricia Rice‘s emotionally-charged contemporary and historical romances have won numerous awards, including the RT Book Reviews Reviewers Choice and Career Achievement Awards. In addition to receiving the Bookrak Bestselling Paperback award, her books have also been honored as Romance Writers of America RITA® finalists in the historical, regency and contemporary categories.
A firm believer in happily-ever-after, Patricia is married to her high school sweetheart and has two children. A native of Kentucky and New York, a past resident of North Carolina, she currently resides in St. Louis, Missouri, and now does accounting only for herself. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, the Authors Guild, and Novelists, Inc. She can be found on her website, twitter, facebook, pinterest, and on the Word Wenches blog.