Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Booking It to C'ville

Yesterday, my Lake Writer buddy Marion and I hit to road to Charlottesville for Publisher’s Day at Virginia Festival of the Book. We both think it's important to hang out around writing professionals and see what we can learn from them. A lot of the pros were in Charlottesville to talk about the world of writing and publishing.

Usually, when Marion and I travel together, we have such a good time talking that we miss a turn. This time, we were determined to not get lost. I had two maps—one was last year’s FoB map that showed exactly where the Omni was.

We turned into Charlottesville and almost got lost, but a nice cop directing traffic for some kind of race involving a gazillion people pointed us in the right direction (right turn, left turn, straight). We made the right turn and the left turn and were headed straight. Straight into a crowd of another gazillion people and a detour sign, that is. Seems we were on the race route. So we turned. Another nice cop gave us directions, but they weren’t as good as the first cop’s directions.

Finally we found the Omni (tall building with the word “Omni” on it) and even found a parking place. We even had time to look at a few exhibits and find the lounge where Infinity Publishing was set up.

We partook of Infinity’s coffee and refreshments, admired our books on display, and asked John H.—the Infinity representative—about the bombshell that had dropped the day before: that henceforth all print-on-demand books on Amazon’s website had to be printed by Amazon’s own POD printer, Booksurge instead of Lightning Source. John assured us not to worry—Amazon had called Infinity (as it had a bunch of other POD publishers), but Infinity prints in-house and sells the actual book to Amazon at the accepted discount. Our POD books will thus remain available from Amazon.

Marion and I then went to the “Where Publishing Is Headed” panel, with Catharine Lynch (Penguin), Ed Barber (W.W. Norton), and Virginia Barber (Grove Atlantic)—all pros, indeed.

Some highlights of where various aspects of publishing are headed:
  • Editing: digital files in MS-word to use the ”track changes” feature, although a few editors still like to work on a paper manuscript so they can spread it out.
  • Marketing: more online—every publisher has a website and does targeted marketing. Reviews don’t drive book sales the way they once did; bloggers help spread the word about books.
  • Submissions: agents are the gate-keepers.
  • Printing: no one sets type by hand anymore; everything is digital.
  • Sales: thirty percent of books throughout the industry are returned by bookstores.

Now, the good news. Even though there are fewer major publishing companies (which are owned by conglomerates), there are more imprints within these few.

I asked the panelists how Amazon’s recent decision (like the day before!) would affect publishing, and they looked at each other like maybe they hadn’t heard about it. Finally they agreed: not much.

After the panel, we waited in a looooong line at the restrooms, and then went back to Infinity’s room to rally for lunch at Millers on the downtown mall.

Millers—where we were supposed to eat.

Turns out the upstairs room we were supposed to have was "under construction," so we had to eat outside. Luckily the wind had died down and the sun was out, although the air was nippy. The wait staff, still apologetic even though it wasn’t their fault, quickly wiped the bird poop off the tables and chairs and brought us menus. The food was fantastic—and even better, Infinity paid for it.

Marion, awaiting lunch

We looked around at exhibits (a mecca for many self-published authors trying to sell books), visited with some members of the Virginia Writers Club (which didn’t have a display, although the Blue Ridge Chapter did), and attended another session before collecting our books (which Infinity gave us!) and heading for home.

We got out of C’ville OK (no runners) and headed west and south. In Lynchburg, we somehow missed the turn onto 29 south and came home by way of Forest and Moneta—only a couple miles out of our way, so—technically—we weren’t lost.

We did have a good time. We always do.

See y’all there next year?



Blogger Marion said...

Nice write-up. And the picture is OK; in fact, I may be deluding myself, but I believe the 12 lbs I've lost recently actually made a difference.

8:12 PM  
Blogger Becky Mushko said...

. . . and you're wearing a really bulky sweater, too!

8:16 PM  

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