NINC Conference – Day Four (Retrospective)

[From last week’s NINC conference, written in real time and then stored to be sent out a week later.]

Saturday. Actually managed to sleep some last night. The hotel has a set temperature at all times, and it gets warm in the room. Or rather, I let my house get cold at night (66 in summer and 64 in the winter) so I’m not used to sleeping in hot. And so I woke up every night confused and overheated. Finally figured it out, but I’ve been ON for several days, so processing non-NINC things is occasionally difficult.

The background music and whine of the noise and AC does not help, so my head has basically been ringing for five days now. Hopefully, a few days of quiet next week will grind some of the jagged edges off my mind. (As you are reading this, hopefully everything is better. Will try to remember to put in a note, but it’s 9/28 right now, midafternoon. EDIT: OMG better after sleeping in my own bed at 64 F at night, when it’s 36F outside in the dawn.)

So done, more or less. Thu-Sat, with some meetings outside of the NINC structure itself on Wednesday, trying to map out the future of publishing so we can get ahead of the curve and either position ourselves to take advantage of it, or build mitigation plans to protect ourselves against it. Some of the things we envision are kinda scary, but most of them are black swans over the next 12-18 months, with probabilities growing ever greater over that period.

BEFORE I FORGET (again): Novelists, Inc. is an organization for “professional” writers. The annual conference is in St. Pete Beach in September. This is my second.

Membership requirements (as of now), taken from their website:

  • If they’re traditionally published, you’ve earned at least $2,000 each from an advance or royalties in any consecutive twelve-month period following publication, and as long as one of those titles has been published within the last 5 years.
  • If you’ve published at least two novels—each at least 30,000 words, and neither is a box set or collection of shorts.
  • If they’re self-published, you’ve earned at least $5,000 each in any consecutive twelve-month period following publication, and as long as one of those titles has been published within the last 5 years.

As you can see, a little heavily tilted still towards trad, since a $2,000 advance is most medium-sized publishers for mid-list authors, whereas royalties above $10,000 in a year is pretty good work for the indies.

What happens is that the Indies like me that are here tend to be doing pretty good, and the tradpub writers who do attend tend to be either on the backside of their careers, or have lost their NY contracts and are frantically making the transition to Indie.

Additionally, the organization originally split from RWA, so romance writers are extremely over-represented in membership, but Thriller is catching up. I’m rather lonesome, just writing SF. (Not Romance SF, mind you. Lots of those folks, making good money.)

But the convention is to network and learn from others. Make contacts you take outside the week and continue to work with later.

Additionally, a lot of useful Vendors attend and make presentations. Folks like BookFunnel, Reedsy, Draft2Digital, Findaway Voices, and Book Brush have all done presentations and impressed me. The big book distributors (B, A, A, K) usually have a presence, but rarely send high-powered folks to this con, which always strikes me as kinda stupid.

One of them did a presentation that started off explaining how to create an author account and publish ebooks. And did you know you could even do print books? Seriously, it wasn’t even junior varsity sort of stuff, because everyone in that room is either making a full-time living as a writer, or has a plan to get there. Up your games, people. These are the sharks, not the tuna.

That’s where those earlier vendors I mentioned looked good. They came in and looked sharp, understood the level of knowledge in the room, and the amount of hunger. They want your money, and are willing to work their asses off to get it. And establish relationships that will last you over your career.

Money. Folks I’m going to be emailing even as you read these things, just because they have side conversations I want to follow up on, and options available to NINC people. Plus, really nice people. That’s why the names and the links. They are folks you need to know about if you don’t already. Poke me for introductions if you need them.

One of the themes of conversation here was trying to list out all the things that writers need, from the moment they have the books files ready to upload. One of the presenters referred to the “value chain” of publication and that became our shorthand. We need folks to hand things off to, like uploading files to all the vendors manually, which takes hours. Additionally, marketing help.  Financial analysis. Estate planning. There’s a whole list we’re putting together to send off to our friends, so they can start carving them off, once they realized just how much money they are leaving on the table. (Hint: a LOT that they never even realized, but that’s why they come, and work so hard to talk directly with writers, so we’ll tell them our pain points and they can solve them. And they will. And we’ll all get rich in the process.)

So you’ll see me start listing out some things you can do to help jump-start your career here or elsewhere. I won’t put most of it in my newsletters, because that’s for readers and fans, but maybe I’ll continue blogging on the business aspects, and writing Business For Breakfast books boiling it all down.

I have considered creating a second, “artist-only” newsletter where I talk business topics, rather than characters, worlds, or sales. If you think that sounds like a good idea, send me a note and I’ll add you, so we can share out some of these ideas.

(Edit: On the flight home, Fabulous Publisher Babe(tm) and I decided to do a newsletter dedicated to publishing. “Publisher’s Corner” sort of thing. Contact me if you want to be added to list. Already got several dozen names and I’m still figuring out how to talk about it all.)

The world is about to change again, and every gimmick you had that worked last week will fail tomorrow. One of the tomorrows. You need to build up some of your fundamental strengths to be ready to ride that storm out when it comes.

Maybe more tomorrow (Edit: Yeah, no.) when I’m at the airport and have some time to kill, but maybe not, as I’ll need to write up all my notes and boil them down into action lists and stack ranks.

But there is a lot you could be doing, if anybody had ever taken the time to share what they knew. Tune in.




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