doing book readings

I Wish Someone Would Invent a Way to Poll This…

The other day I was discussing “publishing events” with another author. We started out talking about whether or not writing conferences and conventions are of any use with regards to helping an author get published. Or, for that matter, helping a published author establish a fan base.

The author I was discussing this with tended to believe going to conferences and conventions made all the difference in the world when it came to getting published. And I tend to be on the fence with regard to all this because I’ve never gone to a conference or a convention and I’ve been getting my work published for almost twenty years. I also didn’t point out that even though this author spends a great deal of money and time traveling to conventions and conferences, he rarely ever meets anyone who will help him with his writing career.

I know there are cases where people have done well at conferences and conventions, which is why I’m on the fence. Just because these events never worked for me, they’ve obviously worked for a few other people. But I also have one pretty big ace in my pocket that gives me an advantage when it comes to the publishing industry. One of my best friends, for over fifteen years, is a New York Agent who has sold many big books. And I respect his opinion more than I respect anyone else’s when it comes to these things. He’s not my agent. He’s my friend. We agreed years ago in order to keep a good friendship we’d never work together. Besides, I don’t write in the genre he reps. But we do talk about publishing in general, and I’ve always heard him say he’s not a huge fan of conventions and conferences. He used to go to some. But he doesn’t even go to BEA anymore. And if his associate wants to go, she has to pay her own way. And not going to conferences and publishing events has not hurt him in the least.

So, without coming to any conclusions, my author friend and I moved on to the topic of book readings. He’s all for them. I’m on the fence. He believes that book readings help promote the author and the book. And I believe that if an author is writing e-books and the author’s fan base is strictly online, than book readings aren’t going to help build the author a following. But there’s also more to the story. This author is more laid back than I am. He writes one or two books a year. I write over a dozen books a year, which leaves little time to run around to conventions, conferences, and book readings. I’m all about the writing and the work. This is what motivates me. The work itself is the muse. However, it’s a different process with all writers, and some are far more social than others. Like this author friend of mine. He loves doing book readings whether he attracts more readers or not. For him, it’s a social event, where for me it’s just taking away from valuable writing time that I think will benefit my readers more.

We didn’t come up with any solid conclusions at the end of the discussion. We agreed to disagree…although I have to say I was far more open than he was. I admitted that conventions, conferences, and things like public readings might help. But he refused to back down at all, believing that anyone who wouldn’t go to an event was missing out on opportunities.

I just wish there were a poll to validate this one way or the other, because I’m still leaning toward the fact that book readings, especially with regard to e-book authors, don’t do much other than create a nice little social night for everyone concerned. Same for conferences, which at one time were far more important to prospective authors with regard to networking than they are nowadays. And, frankly, it may all come down to the individual authors. Some would rather be networking and others would rather be writing.

How Do Other Authors Promote Their Books?

I’m always curious about how authors promote their books. And I’m not even talking about one genre in particular. In this regard, because my own personal reading tastes are so eclectic, the ratings and reviews on my goodreads profile swings in all directions. In fact, I’m not fond of reading m/m romance for professional reasons. And that’s not because there aren’t plenty of great m/m romances out there. It’s just that I’d rather read books that aren’t in the genre in which I write because I don’t want to be influenced by anyone else’s work. Right now I’m finishing up the last of three Toni Morrison novels I’ve been reading since New Year’s Day…The Bluest Eye, Beloved, and Jazz. All of which are well outside the realm of the m/m romance genre and safe from influencing me.

To be honest, I rarely ever concentrate hard on promoting my own books. I post info about them here in the blog. And I do this mostly so readers have a place to go to get more product description. I read other blogs just like I’ve always read them and often leave comments. If anyone reads the comments I’ve left and discovers my books, it’s purely by accident.

I’m pretty bad when it comes to yahoo groups. I’ve tried getting into them, but I’m usually so busy writing and trying to live a fairly normal life I find it difficult to wade through e-mails in yahoo groups and that don’t seem to have much significance. I’m also part of all the social networks, from Digg to facebook to twitter. However, I’m one of those people who really enjoys the social networks and I post more personal info there than I do book info. I have one of those facebook fan pages, but I haven’t updated it months. I find more enjoyment interacting with facebook friends on my own personal page and the my fan page bores me to death. I’ve always been very social in this regard. I have fun with it.

And I write mostly e-books. All my books can be purchased as print books. But from what I’ve seen and heard from readers, it’s all about the e-books. So I try to make myself as accessible as possible, and answer every single reader e-mail I receive. I’ve done blog talk radio interviews, which I love. I recently blogged with several other m/m authors on Jassewave, and enjoyed that just as much. In essence, I’m usually game for anything, from giving personal online interviews to taking them. When an Italian journalist contacted me last summer to do an interview in print about m/m romance and e-books, I was more than happy to oblige.

But the one thing I do turn down are those author readings, usually in New York. First, I’m not a fan of public speaking at all. I’m a writer, a behind the scenes person and I have no interest in speaking before a group of people, especially reading my own work. I’ve done author book signings, and I love them. I love getting to meet readers in person. But to stand in front of a group of people in some tiny little place in NY and read just isn’t my bag. It’s also an ordeal as well. I live in New Hope, Bucks County, PA, and it takes two hours or longer, with traffic, to get to these readings. It costs upward of one hundred dollars by the time I factor in gas, tolls, parking and food. And this comes out of my own pocket. I have a mortgage and bills just like everyone else…in spite of the fact that book pirates think all authors are making tons of money. And frankly, I think my time could be spent in more productive places, like writing and editing more stories and books. I know there are people who would disagree with me. They love these author readings and they think it helps promote books. For some, it is part of their social life. But if the majority of my readership lives all over the country…the world, in fact…I honestly don’t see how reading an excerpt from one of my books in a small, unheard of bistro in New York is going to help anyone.

If anyone would like to share how they promote…or even share how they feel about the things I’ve mentioned in the above post, please feel free to comment. I encourage anon comments here, and take privacy very seriously. And, if I don’t post a comment right away it’s because it probably went to spam and I didn’t notice it.