Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sunday Story - author talks

I'm just home after attending an author talk...and I'm a little horrified to say the least. I need to debrief.

I see an author talk as a publicity/promo opportunity, so you're selling not only yourself but your stories. I think this author felt the same because they started by thanking the host for that opportunity. And then I got lost. The author had notes - pages of them - but the talk was a waffle fest.

I know about the author's parents, and early life. They spoke of their career, and how and why they wrote their first book. And then I got lost. There were two books out and we seemed to swing between one and then the other. There wasn't a timeline, so although I could see book one on the table, the author never told us how it came to be there. When they spoke of this book, it had been rejected by many agents, including a film option. I could guess from the process that it was a time ago, but was never sure when - until right at the end. It was written 30 years ago, self-published last year (still no clue how this happened).

And Book 2, I can't tell you what that was about. I know it's book 1 in a 4-book series, and I know there are 15 characters and although that's been criticised, it was necessary. As to the story line, I have no idea.

Someone asked the author about the editing services provided by Amazon. The author responded by saying that for the first book, editing was fabulous. There was a package and it just did it. For the second book, it was a fight to get it done, but eventually someone called CreateSpace did it, but sadly, they used American spelling and punctuation. There are commas put in American places. And out of 108 000 words, 200 were changed to Americanisms. (To them 200 was a huge number of words; I was shocked it was so few). The author then said how fabulous the promo was on Amazon because if you typed in author and book name, you got all this information about the book, including reviews.

I was cringing in my seat by now. Amazon doesn't offer an editing service because it isn't a publishing house. In effect, all Amazon is, is an electronic bookshop. CreateSpace is an environment where you can turn your book into a printed form and it can be sold through Amazon. The American punctuation beat me completely but it could be commas after dialogue, a publishing thing not an American thing. And Amazon's promo - dear lord, that's just how the book is listed for every book on there. If you want promo, you need to pay for that.

I was horrified to see someone giving such a talk to people who wanted to be writers. I've sat in talks like that before and you believe what someone tells you because 'they're published'. But this author didn't have a clue about the industry, and was offering incorrect information.

I can never say anything in this situation. I cringe and wish I was elsewhere. But so much is being said with authority, that isn't right...and so I should have the guts to stand up and say that. Although, maybe it's up to the audience to be discerning. I just don't know what to do in these situations.

But I'm ever so grateful to RWA for the education I've received in the past 8 years. I wouldn't be published if I hadn't joined this amazing group. I wouldn't know half what I know without becoming involved.

If I ever give an author talk, please let me remember not to waffle and not to speak on things I don't understand.

Have you ever been in this situation? What have you done?

1 comment:

  1. Adding a PS here
    A couple of the ladies I went with bought the books and have been unable to read them. One said it was rambling. Another said it was infantile writing. So glad I saved my pennies. And maybe the caliber of the books will mean anything he said won't be credible.