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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Writing Advice Form The Treasure Coast


Interview With Treasure Coast Writers Guild President John Cammalleri

1.      What do you do as the president of the Treasure Coast Writers Guild? The Treasure Coast Writers Guild is an organization of 25 published authors from the four Florida counties that make up what is known as the Treasure Coast. We have two main purposes. The first is helping the authors market and sell their books. We attend various fairs and festivals throughout the year, have signings at independent bookstores, and have a speakers bureau for members who are willing to speak at various organizations. We also promote literacy efforts in the area, at schools and libraries. Our members have participated in an annual Family Reading Festival sponsored by the St. Lucie County school system, and we work with a local adult literacy program. I coordinate these efforts and negotiate the details. We keep our membership in the mid-twenties so that we all have ample opportunity to participate in these events, without crowding each other out. I'm a new president, I've held the office since May, and one of my goals is to help our members take the step of using the Internet and the social networks to get them and their books more widely known.

2.  What advice do you have for struggling writers? Since most of us are struggling authors, very few make a living doing what we're doing, the main thing for us all to understand is that we need to put out a quality product in order to begin to develop a reputation as a good writer and stand out from the crowd. Unfortunately I see too many Indie writers put out product quickly, with little or no editing, because technology allows them to. They may sell some books in this way, but they will be hurting themselves and other Indie writers in the process. They should not be in such a rush to get something out. I highly recommend joining a critique group to work out some early bugs in the manuscript. Then have it edited properly - not simply checked for spelling and grammar. Get a professional to design the cover. It will cost a few dollars but the author will be more proud of the final result and it will pay dividends in the future.

3.     As a writer yourself, what do you find rewarding and challenging about practicing your craft? I still remember the feeling I had when I held a copy of my first book, Protecting the Cittern, in my hands. It was a great sense of satisfaction and achievement. I also get a lot of pleasure hearing from people who have read my books and told me how much they enjoyed them. I love the creative process, and watching a story unfold in ways I hadn't expected. For me, the most challenging part is being as disciplined as I'd like to be in finding the time to write. Personal events and obligations have a way of taking valuable time, but I try to write whenever I can.

4.     How can writers take advantage of the opportunities the digital marketplace offers them? This goes back to where I'm trying to lead the Guild members. There are plenty of opportunities with on-line sites. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Goodreads are some of the places where authors can get their names known. I have an author page on Facebook, www.facebook.com/cittern, separate from my personal profile. I've recently started a blog, http://www.thoughtsfromthecamel.blogspot.com/, which is getting a lot of favorable notice and drawing attention to my books. I've recommended the Guild membership think about starting their own blogs and take advantage of social media. You just have to find out how you want to approach each one and take some time to develop them.

5.      Where do you see book publishing heading? I don't think the physical book is dead yet, but it has flu-like symptoms. While some people are avoiding e-readers, more and more are embracing them. Many authors, particularly Indies but also some established authors, are only putting books out as e-books. This is the direction publishing is going. It is providing self-published authors more opportunities, although, getting back to what I said earlier, they need to make sure the quality is there. But self-publishing is gradually losing its stigma, and since it is increasingly difficult for new authors to get agents and publishing deals from the major houses, the benefits to having a major publisher behind you are decreasing. Even the benefit of being carried in a major bookstore is going away as more and more purchases are made on-line. New authors don't get any marketing muscle behind them, and need to do much of the marketing themselves anyway, so why not get all the profits?


Book Publishing Looks Healthy On Wall Street

The stock prices for companies involved in book publishing shot up over the first six months of the year, according to a Publishers Weekly analysis. From December 30, 2011 to June 30, 2012, stock prices were up for Disney, Wiley, and Pearson. Stocks were up for companies that own publishing components but who also are involved in non-publishing businesses, such as CBS, which has publishing holdings, Amazon, which sells many things as well as books, and Courier Corp. Books-A-Million stock went up 32.6% to lead the way. Barnes and Noble was up 13.7 %. But there were some flat companies like McGraw-Hill and Reed Elsevier. RR Donnelley and Educational Development Corp each suffered nearly 20% stock drops.


Self-Publishing Trends

According to Bowker, 211,269 self-published print and ebooks were released in 2011. 133,036 were released in 2010, so it’s a wild growth area. 62 percent of buyers of self-published books were women but men’s expenditures represented 56% of total sales. Fiction books accounted for 45% of the unit sales, but only 25% of the revenue. Non-fiction accounts for 38% of revenue. The rest of the sales were on academic and professional books, juvenile, religious and science/technical books. Lastly, paperbacks accounted for 47% of the unit sales but 75% of the revenue; ebooks accounted for 41% of the units sold but only for 11% of the revenue. The average price paid for a self-published ebook last year was $3.18; $12.68 for paperback, and $14.40 for a hardcover.



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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

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