The Pen Warriors have been getting together every three months for a two day retreat at the Red Door for over ten years now. These retreats are important to us; we eat (rather well because of our resident foodie, Laura Tobias), we brainstorm plots, dream up book titles, work on craft issues, critique, discuss the various genres, and test out new story ideas. All this is creative work that is super productive for all of us—and crazy fun. 🙂
But this pre-Christmas retreat was different. This time we decided to tax our brains and figure out what the hey is going on in publishing these days; growing ebook sales, declining print sales, bookstore closings, opaque contracts, lowered advances (if any), billion dollar publishing house mergers and acquisitions.
Serious issues there. Big thoughts required.
Business to get down to. So we got down…
Brows knit, we weighed and analysed our publishing options: print publishers, small press, digital publishers, our local Staples, Aunt Bertha’s mimeograph machine, or that elephant in the writer’s garret, DIY—self-publishing. The underlying dilemma being, what’s the best way/format to reach readers who might enjoy our books and be willing to buy our work?
This analysis took about fifteen minutes at which point our neurons fizzled out, so we refocused on the subject of social media—the second elephant in the writer’s garret. (You have no idea of the cleanup!) The unknown, all-knowing “THEY” say Social Media is critical. Gotta have a platform, be connected via Facebook, Twitter, Mugshots, Google, Buy-my-book.com, or whatever. We became confused—which happens easily, I’m afraid. Still we persevered, asked ourselves; if we upped our promo efforts (maybe to 26 hours a day) would we improve the chances our tiny gold nuggets of literature would be found in what is now a vast seabed of stones, lead, and silver? (Okay, that’s hyperbole, but as writers we either believe we write gold or turn in our writer badges.)
This analysis of social media precipitated our descent into the spirit world (aka wine) and led us to the most important question of all; what we wanted to do as writers going forward. On this there was consensus. We want to write the best books and stories we possibly can, then use whatever publishing method is most effective to get those stories to readers. In this weird and unsettling new publishing world, sans a Google map, GPS, or even a backseat driver, our plan is simple: Stay Calm and Keep Writing.
P.S. This was our last Red Door writers’ retreat before Christmas so we also exchanged gifts and reworked the blog. If you’ve visited before you’ll notice our new template. We think it’s fresh and crisp and fits well with our attitude going forward. Hope you like it.