So, for those of you who have been following the news from New Orleans, I’d like to offer my perspective on what happened during the Giant Book Fair on Saturday when self-published authors were separated from the traditionally published authors and put in a different room, then crammed into tables less than what we’d been told.
Disappointment is the nicest thing I can say. For a conference and an organization that has been vocally supportive of indie authors, I expected better. Indie authors paid the same price for registration as traditionally published authors, but we received less table space and less traffic. We were harder to find because we were in a completely different room. And from what some readers said, if they wanted to buy both traditional books and indie books, they had to stand in completely separate lines. (This is second-hand, as I did not buy any books.) And check-out lines were very, very long.
I was told by someone I trust that the vendor for the event insisted on this. That it wasn’t RT’s choice. That may be, but if that was the case, the convention organizers had a responsibility to let authors know this would be the situation. The only reason I can think that they did NOT was because they knew indie authors would pull out of the signing. I know I would have.
It’s insulting. People publish independently for all sorts of reasons, yet many continue to promote the idea that it’s because we’re forced to. Is that what was meant by one staffer or volunteer referring to us as “aspiring authors” to a convention attendee as they directed them toward the room with the “real” authors? Do they think we’re all just publishing our little books until we get a “real deal” from a publisher? (Note: Please see update below.)
Tell that to the multiple NYT and USA Today bestsellers who were sitting in that room. They were there. Lots of them.
I don’t talk about this much, because it feels like tooting my own horn, but I’ve passed on good traditional oportunities for my work. And I have various reasons for that. Sometimes, the financials weren’t to my benefit. Sometimes, the timing just wasn’t right. I was told by someone knowledgeable that I would be able—if I wanted—to get a publisher for A Hidden Fire before I ever published. I chose not to pursue that for my own reasons.
I’m not opposed to traditional publishers. Far from it. I want a thriving and diverse marketplace because it gives authors many options. And the publishers I’ve worked with on my subsidiary rights have been fantastic. I just haven’t been offered the right print deal for me. Yet. That may happen some day; I’m not ruling anything out.
But the fact is: I’m indie by choice. But for some, they still think I’m waiting around for a NY deal. It’s short-sighted and ignorant.
It’s also bad business. I’ve sold well over 500,000 e-books over the last few years. (There, I tooted my horn a little.) And that doesn’t even touch free e-book downloads or the fiction I’ve given away on my blog.
I sure have a lot of readers for an “aspiring author.” Someone lost out on an opportunity to make money selling my books. Too bad for them.
Please, RT, I know you’re better than this. I’m disappointed that this is the way things happened, but I know you can make this right. I’m not making any grand pronouncements that I’ll never support you again and won’t read your magazine or promote your blog. You guys have a lot of excellent people over there! And up until this, you had one of the most progressive policies in welcoming indie authors.
But unless I have assurance that I’m not going to be treated like a second class citizen again, I will not be signing at another one of your conventions.
UPDATE: Wow! Lots of traffic. So, I want to do TWO quick updates/clarifications.
The RT twitter feed has stated that the “aspiring author” statement was from a volunteer who was quickly corrected, so I wanted to make sure to share that.
Remember, this was a huge conference and miscommunication happens. I want to be clear that I have no interest in tearing down RT Magazine or the conference. That said, I think they needed to communicate much better with the authors and there were still big issues. As for WHY the separation happened, Courtney Milan has a great post over on her blog about it. She was there, too. So if you’re curious about the details, please check that out.
Also, looking at my original post, I wanted to make sure to say that I had a WONDERFUL time meeting the readers who did find me. Meeting readers is NEVER a disappointment. Part of my frustration at the event was that it was very difficult for readers to find the authors that they wanted with two separate rooms. There was a lot of confusion, and I heard things along the lines of “oh, THERE you are!” over and over. Just wanted to make sure you guys know that, by and large, the convention was really fun. I loved meeting the readers, bloggers, and other writers there.