The future of publishing, part 2 of 2

As I blogged about yesterday, and to give a nod to Mr. Mark Twain, the rumors of the publishing industry’s death are highly exaggerated. With advancements in self publishing, eBooks and social media, there are simply more ways for more players to get into the game. What does that mean for us? It means that we have to make our product the BEST THAT IT CAN BE if we want to gain the attention of agents, editors and, ultimately, readers. In other words, first write a damn good book (DGB).

After writing the DGB, if you believe what the presentors, editors, and agents talked about at the 2011 DFW Writers Conference, there are a few paths you can go down:

1. Traditional book deal – the first step in this process is to get an agent. How do you get an agent? You query an agent with a letter, synopsis and sample chapters. At the conference, they set up a “gong show” and had a volunteer read actual query letters from conference attendees while both the audience and agent panel listened. At any part of the letter, the agents could bang their gong; three gongs would bring an end to the evaluation, and then the moderator would question the agents why they gonged. Surprisingly, the answers revolved around three main complaints: 1 – too much stuff going on in the letter. The agents all said that writers should get in, talk about how many words their manuscript is, whether it’s completed or not, talk about the main plot (not subplots) and the main characters and get out. Don’t drone on how it’s a vampire mystery with a little romance and YA stuff thrown in. Oh, and by then way the heroine has cancer or some funky disease. Too much too soon. 2- don’t be cheesy. Just don’t be cheesy. 3 – keep it to one page. I got the impression that agents think of query letters like a first date. Don’t come on to strong, don’t bathe in Aqua Velva, and always, always leave them wanting more.   

2. Self-publish – I’ve self published 2 books, my latest one, The Brink, was self-published through iUniverse. With 90% of novels selling less than 500 copies, I can tell you that I’m in the other 10%. But, if I ever self publish again (my goal is to get a traditional deal) I won’t go through a self-publishing company. I’ll do it myself. Fort Worth Star Telegram columnist Dave Lieber, who as the Watchdog Nation founder, is like DFW’s answer to John Stossel, showed us how he does it, and even gave us the numbers that make self-publishing by yourself or becoming a publisher yourself makes the most sense if you choose to self publish. Want more info on it? Well, I wouldn’t be a good suspense thriller writer if I gave it to you now. More on Dave’s presentation next week.

3. eBook publishing – Mark Hollingsworth, a rep with Barnes & Noble, taught a class on how to publish for free with B&N’s new Pubit platform. It really is simple to do, and depending upon the price point at which you choose to sell your novel, you can keep up to 70% of the profits. If you want to hit all the eBook publishers at once, you can do it for a fee through Smashwords. A note to PC users, if you want your book on iBooks, the only way to do it is to go through Smashwords.

I could have written much more about what I learned about the future of publishing at the DFW Writers Conference, but as Kristen Lamb taught us in the blogging class, keep your blogs short. I’m at about 600 words here, so I’ll just mention a few words about the new format. Starting next week, Mark Fadden’s blog will come to you Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and we’re going to have themes:

Mystery Monday – Since I’m a mystery/thriller  author, we’ll discuss all topics mystery related including infamous murder cases (and what made them that way), forensics, and possible plots.

Writing Wednesdays – We’ll talk about the craft of writing and all things “authorpreneurial” including marketing and promoting our books.

Finance Fridays – Since my latest thriller, The Brink, uses the current financial meltdown for it’s foundation, we’ll talk about the cluster**** that is our nation’s current financial condition. Trust me, there is no lack of topics for this subject.

So, that’s the new format. I hope you’ll like it and tell others about it.

Questions? Comments? To the keyboards!

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Mark Fadden is a freelance writer and award-winning author of Five Days in Dallas and The Brink. Check out his novels at www.markfadden.com.

Locals only!

Book signings. I love them. I love running my mouth, so any chance I can get to talk to readers and, more importantly, listen to what they like and dislike about books they’ve read (“There were too many characters to follow”, “I had to wade through 60 pages of boring stuff before the story got interesting”), it is an opportunity to get priceless information that I use to continually evolve as a writer.

However, not having a name that ends in “ing” or “isham”, sometimes it’s hard to schedule a book signing. It involves extra work for the staff, and a commitment from the store to buy and stock your books. But, there is another option to get yourself a book signing. It’s called, “An Evening with the Authors.”

Last night, I participated in such an event at the Hurst, Texas Barnes & Noble. Myself and two other local authors were the featured scribblers. Granted it was a slow Wednesday night (it would have had a better turnout on a weekend for sure) but still, it was yet another chance to talk to potential fans and lay another brick in building the brand. 

So, the next time you ask your local book store about hosting your book signing and you get a little pushback, suggest that you’ll participate in the local author event. If they don’t do one, suggest they have one. Events draw customers into stores and, in turn, to you. A true “win-win” all around.

BTW, below is the article I did on the event that I sent to our local paper. I included the same pic as the one above. Enjoy!  

Hurst Barnes & Noble goes local

The Barnes & Noble book store in Hurst recently hosted an “Evening with Local Authors.” Three local authors, Kevin Cook, Mark Fadden, and Jan Leland signed copies of their latest books and spoke to customers about the writing life. “The publishing industry is in such a dynamic flux right now,” offered Fadden, whose latest book, The Brink, uses the recent financial meltdown as the foundation for a taut suspense thriller. “More and more people are talking about eBooks and eReaders. More and more authors are talking about going into digital self publishing. I think that to really connect with your readers and to get the much needed feedback about your books, it is still vital to make the book tour rounds, sign actual books and establish relationships with your audience and with the book store staff.” 

Carol Scalzo, Community Relations Manager at Barnes and Noble in Hurst echoed Fadden’s point about establishing relationships with authors. “We were thrilled to feature these local authors. Barnes & Noble is always seeking to feature local talent. We were excited to represent their latest works and hope to work with them again soon to help promote their future works.”  

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Mark Fadden is a freelance writer and award-winning author of Five Days in Dallas and The Brink. Send him an email at mark@markfadden.com.  

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Triple C Ranch book club hosts “the next Dan Brown”

Once finishing a book, many readers would love the chance to ask the author questions about it. The ladies of the Triple C Ranch neighborhood in Southlake got that very chance when Colleyville author Mark Fadden stopped by during their recent book club meeting as they discussed his latest thriller, The Brink. “It was an engaging read,” said Patty Jefferson. “I read it in a day and a half. It was a real page turner.” Arlene Dang, one of the group’s founders, agreed with Jefferson and had perhaps the highest praise a thriller writer could hear. “I think he’s the next Dan Brown.” While the rest of the women had similar sentiments about the book, they also had some constructive criticism for Fadden. “While it would spoil the book to mention their exact comments, I can say that they had some specific ideas about the ending and some of the characters in the book. Anytime that we as authors can get this kind of feedback from our readers, it’s invaluable.”

The Triple C Ranch Book Club, which is comprised of women from all walks of life including housewives, lawyers and educators, began with an idea that sprang from a conversation between two of the women in the neighborhood. Dang and Sipho Gumbo had a conversation about books and found out that they both were active on Good Reads, an Internet website where readers discuss their favorite books with others. “We thought why not do the same thing in our neighborhood?” said Dang. “We knew that several people in our neighborhood liked to read. Creating a book club just seemed a natural fit.” Gumbo, whose husband has written a book of historical fiction about African politics, entitled The Fire Inside, agreed. “We wanted to have a neighborhood group where people could share and socialize.”

The club, which meets the third Sunday of every month, has a dozen members and has even created their own Facebook page. Fadden’s novel, The Brink, was the third book they’ve read. Sometimes, the ladies have different opinions about characters and plots of the books they review, and they each respect the other’s opinion. Other times they all agree about a book, like when they all thought that the bestseller Eat, Pray, Love wasn’t their cup of tea. Lorianne Hartman, who hosted the meeting that Fadden attended, picked The Weight of Water for their next book. “It’s a very informal group of women who like to read and like to share,” said Hartman. “We’ve got a great group and I look forward to spending time with these good friends.”

Fadden will be signing copies of The Brink at the Southlake Barnes & Noble book store on Saturday, Oct 9, from 1:00pm-3:00pm. To preview it, visit his website at www.markfadden.com.