What I learned at BEA

Back in May, I went to BEA (Book Expo America) and as part of my trip, visited a lot of stands and authors.

BEA is a terrific event. Unlike the LBF (London Book Fair), Publishers and Indie Authors give away their books to readers in order to help build awareness and a fan-base. I think that's a great idea.

For myself, I had great fun carefully picking 30 books and spending my last few days in New York after the fair, picking which to take home with me. My method was fairly straight-forward. I gave each one a go, skim-read the first 50 pages and in the end, picked just 2 books I considered compelling-enough to cram into my luggage. The rest were given good homes with friends who are avid readers.

However, the whole thing made me stop and think.

"The only story a reader really wants to read is a great story that's well-written.
The only brands the reader cares about is the Story and the Author. That's it."

You see, even though all the books I read were written well (or in some cases, very well) that alone wasn't enough to get me to want to continue them. More to the point, I didn't care who wrote it or who published it, so long as I got a great story.

Traditionally-published authors can produce great stories. And so can Self-Published/ Indie Authors. 

And that's exactly the point. Most readers have no brand loyalty to a publisher, why should they? Indie or traditionally published
doesn't matter any more.

It's the story they want to read. In fact, provided the book is well written and professionally published, readers really don't care  who publishes them. 

08/30/2013 12:14pm

I used to read all the "big names" in the publishing world and found, as is normal, that there were times when their latest work did not meet my expectation, because it seemed that they had "just written" another book to keep the production moving.

This can happen with indie/self published authors also, but I think most of them know they have to put their best work out there to compete. And lets be honest--there are some marginal manuscripts that are published because today there are the tools to make those peoples dreams come true--even if they don't have the literary skills to produce a work that is "up to snuff."

How ever, since I have become involved in publishing independently I have discovered many wonderful, qualified writers (who may have waited forever to see their works published if they hadn't taken the self publishing route,) and I purchase every book they have written and wait for the next one.

As in all aspects of society, the elite will look down on those who they see as beneath them, but I truly believe that those self published authors who produce quality work and are willing to engage in the heavy work of marketing will eventually find their place. We see it happening already. The readers will embrace the good ones; the others will fall by the way, but at the very least they will have had an opportunity to try their hand at making their dream
come true.

To me it's all relative. Publishing companies and big retail stores will not disappear, but the new wave of publishing and ebook technology is growing, and in my opinion will only become stronger.

If you want to be an author, put your very best into every book you write; the people who buy and take time to read your books deserve that. Most important--do it because you are impassioned, because you love what you do, because you are compelled to do it.

If you write because you crave the recognition of being a best seller and making a fortune, the majority will be sadly disappointed. And from my humble point of view, you are writing for the wrong reasons.

But no one should give up on their dreams because big publishers look down on them. Write from your heart, write for the sheer enjoyment of writing, be sure your manuscripts are well structured and edited before you eagerly hurry them into publication and the readers will decide.


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