|Shooting Myself in the Foot, Apparently|
My writing adventures continue. Today I sat once by a "fantasy romance" author and once by a YA gal to listen to author Bob Mayer talk about the art and mechanics of novel-writing. He's written bestselling thrillers and military books and even collaborative romances, and now he also runs his own publishing company to put out his backlist and some non-fiction by other writers.
Anyhow, he had great stuff on setting writing goals and knowing your characters' motivations and conflicts, all of which I took studious notes on until I realized there was a handout, but it was the information he left off the handout that most caught my attention. Check the tidbits below, which I've separated into Facts & Factoids and Opinions.
Facts & Factoids
- 90% of first-time novelists fail because they neglect to market their book.
- 99% of those novelists were no longer writing, 10 years later.
- 78% of readers are women(!).
- Of the fiction market, romance accounts for 55.9%, mysteries/thrillers for 28.1%, sci-fi 7.2%, and other the remaining 8 or so %.
- Average sell-through for traditional print publishers is 50%. Meaning, for each book they sell, they must print and ship two.
- Of the 1.2 million books for sale in 2004, 950,000 of them sold < 99 copies. (I have a quibble with this statistic, which I've mentioned.)
- If you've been considering making a book trailer, you might want to know that only .2 of 1% were bought as a result. (How they tracked such a thing I have no idea.)
- "Thinking your publisher will market your book is like thinking your OB-GYN will raise your child."
- JA Konrath is "burning his bridges." His deal with Amazon has a non-disclosure agreement, which is never a good thing.
- Getting chosen as an Oprah book has tanked many writers' careers because their successive books can't equal the sales of their Oprah pick. "Oprah readers read Oprah books, not a particular author."
- "Don't self-publish fiction."
- Kindle is the Betamax of the future.
- Blogs are fairly useless, although you could try writing your book serially on your blog.
- Book signings are "archaic," but if you can find a unique venue for one, go for it (e.g., selling a knitting novel at a yarn store).
- Balance self-promotion with supporting others.
- Negotiate your print rights separately from e-rights.
All is not lost, however. We self-published fiction authors perform a kind of community service, at least: Mayer estimates that all the people hitting "Send" and publishing straight to Kindle were reducing the volume of the slush pile on agents' and editors' desks.
You can thank me later.