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.