by Brenda Roger
I am just back from the PennWriters conference in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I won’t be giving a detailed report, as I have not finished processing some of the information. My reason for attending was two-fold; to get some specific information on craft and to find out more about the process of selling a manuscript.
The message from the industry is that they will only buy what they can sell gobs of in Target, Costco, Barnes & Noble and Borders. That is disappointing, but it explains why most of the books that I buy have to be special ordered, and why I like to go to Mystery Lover’s Bookshop and ask the staff there to help me select books. It also explains why I don’t watch much television, and I only go to the movies about twice a year. There are no new ideas and everything is driven my mass consumption.
My rant about boring consumer goods could go on, but I have to hurry and post this so I can bid on twenty-year-old skirts on e-bay in an effort to have something interesting to wear this summer.
If you are lucky enough to sell your work, you will get a very small payday and the marketing of the book is pretty much up to you. Hmmm. Tell me again why you need to use a large publishing house?
Perhaps the most exciting thing about the weekend was when my roommate taught me how to read a racing form. I’m not a gambler by nature, but I love to watch horse racing. I took up riding about eighteen months ago, and once you have experienced the power of the animal it is intoxicating to watch them run at top speeds. The language on a racing form is like poetry. There are phrases at the end of each entry that say things like, “stretch duel, driving,” or “wide, steady urging.”
Other than discovering that horsemen are poets, I don’t think I garnered much good news from the weekend. The information about the publishing industry being very narrow minded is useful, however, because both of my concepts could be re-packaged as something other than a commercial book. A new direction may be called for.
Who else went to the conference? How are you feeling about things?