Sunday, November 20, 2011

Crime Bake II

Here's a more detailed report on the 2011 Crime Bake mystery conference, held in Dedham on Nov. 11-13th. This is a fun event for serious fans of mystery fiction, and you get to rub elbows with some of the top names in the field. And lesser ones, as it seems everyone has a book to hawk. Hey, I was no exception, exhibiting "A Memory of Grief" and postcards showing the cover of "A Fall From Grace." The response from folks showed that they loved the covers.

There are also agents and publishers in attendance, so it's no suprise that someone looking to pitch a novel shows up. There are sessions where you can sign up to pitch your concept to one of the agents attending. I did that in 2009, back when I was going the traditional publishing route. Now I'm following a different path, and am glad I did.

Understand, the hope for a big New York publishing house to pick up your book is very alluring. I talked to a few people there for whom this lottery had paid off, and they were doing well. Many others were still waiting for their big break. I could still be waiting, but instead I'm published and selling books, and have creative control over covers, pricing, and content, something you won't likely get with the traditional route. Once you sign, they make all the decisions, even if you hate what they do.

For example, they'll likely price your ebook too high, so you won't sell as many as you would if they had a reasonable price. Another example is covers. The Guest of Honor, best-seller Barry Eisler, told his famous tale of how the publisher had stuck one of his covers with a blank, bland, green garage door, despite his vehement protests. Would you read a book that had nothing but a garage door on the cover? Well, I'm sure it was cheap. Cost them heavily in the long run, though, as it's one of the reasons Barry left those idiots behind.

Having Barry as the guest was astonishing, for he is one of those leading the revolution against the traditional model of publishing. He famously turned down a half-million dollar contract, said he was self-publishing, then found a better way, as someone was smart enough to figure out a way to get his books to readers while making a profit for both the distributor and the author. What a concept, huh?

But as the conference is heavily tilted toward the print world, it was amazing to have an ebook poster child give a talk on the different options. You could see agents in the audience wincing, as they see more of their business slipping away. Many more authors are turning to other options, meaning they have less need of an agent to try and sell the work to one of the Big Six publishers remaining.

Glad to report that Barry is as engaging, informative, and downright nice as his postings have led me to believe. Am looking forward to reading my signed copy of "The Detachment."

Met many other authors as well. Finally got to talk to Gerry Boyle, a Maine writer whose works I discovered back in the 90's. Picked up a copy of his "Port City Black and White." Chatted with Toni Kelner again, and her husband Stephen, a nice guy whose book "Motivate Your Writing" is also on my new to-be-read pile.

Met a number of folks represented by the terrific, hard-working agent, Christine Witthohn of Book Cents Literary Agency. Her gang loves her, and they're a lot of fun. I hung out with them, as I try to find the group having the best time, and they were it. Check out this new crop of writers:
Pete Morin- Diary of a Small Fish
Liz Lipperman- Liver Let Die
Kari Lee Townsend- Tempest in the Tea Leaves
Barbie Jo Mahoney
Lindsay Downs
Danielle Labue Bronson

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