I’m not long back from Romance Writers of Australia’s national conference in Sydney, having had a great time networking with publishers, editors and writers in all fields and all levels of experience.
In line with last month’s blog on staying open to new learning, I sat in on as many panels and workshops as possible, and spoke at two events. But it was undoubtedly the casual meetings with other writers that were the most informative. Many writers I spoke with were indie published or looking into the possibility; others were concerned at the disruption we’re seeing in traditional publishing. Traditional publishing houses are closing or amalgamating with others, resulting in fewer books being bought for less and less money. Where these publishers have digital-first lines, no advance (the amount paid to an author before their books are published) is becoming the standard.
There’s also evidence that bestselling books are staying on lists such as New York Times for ever-shorter periods. A book that might have topped the list for sixteen weeks a few years ago can look forward to three weeks or fewer today. This reflects how the industry is changing, with thousands of indie-published books competing for attention, plus the effects of media fragmentation, audiobooks, social media, games and internet streaming gobbling up our limited free time.
A highlight for me was presenting the annual Valerie Parv Award run by Romance Writers of Australia. Regardless of where and how the winner chooses to be published, I find mentoring the winner a unique and special privilege.
The conference I attended was down on numbers for the first time in many years. With writers striking out in so many new directions, how does a conference satisfy them all, particularly when a lot of how-to-write content is available online, much of it for free?
Enjoyable as it may be to spend a few days in a posh hotel, networking with friends and colleagues, it’s worth asking whether attendance is becoming a luxury. As it is, writers increasingly struggle to write while holding down a day job that pays the bills. Many of my friends brought writing or editing work to conference to do between events.
I heard both traditional and self-published authors admit to being pressured by their followers to write more books in less time. No wonder spelling and grammar is becoming so unreliable.
So what’s the upside? Firstly there’s more information sharing than I’ve ever seen before. Where once publishing contracts such as terms and advances were largely confidential, today the details are far more widely disseminated. At the conference I had the pleasure of participating in a “Legends” panel where a group of established authors shared our career insights with the audience.
Authors are sharing their experiences of working with editors, while indies are helping others navigate the hazardous waters of self-publishing. And the best upside of all – books will survive. Perhaps not in the form we’ve known them up till now, but in audio, ebook, heck even holographic form. Interactive game formats suggest readers may “step into” a novel before much longer, “putting on” a character and living the story.
How do you see the future of your writing? What have you, or will you, experiment with? How has it worked for you? Share your thoughts in the comment box below. The blog is moderated to avoid spam but your post can appear right away if you click on “sign me up” at right. I don’t share your details with anyone.
On Twitter @valerieparv and Facebook
For more like this check out Valerie’s online course,
Sign up for Valerie’s next workshop: Saturday 27 October 2018
At Canberra Writers Centre
Romance Writing Rebooted
Details and bookings – http://tinyurl.com/ycwbutst