Friday, September 21, 2012

The Value of a Story Well-Told

I’ve seen this image floating around a certain social networking site and let me first say, I totally agree.

Yes, support Indie eBooks, there are some gems out there. The legacy publishers (traditional publishers) don't always get it right. You've heard all the stories about Johnathan Livingston Seagull, Dr. Suess, etc. etc. A certain trilogy about the multiple ways you can render art using only a combination of white and black (wink,wink) was an Indie book. Now you can find it at the grocery store. Regardless of the content it's sold more than a few copies.

Even Richard Paul Evans, who's had 21 New York Times Bestselling books, couldn't get a legacy publisher to pick up his new YA series Michael Vey. Clearly they were wrong and have since mended ways with Evans and Vey. He related this story as part of his key note address at this year's League of Utah Writers conference.

The above image got me thinking about the price of eBooks.

I love books, in all their incarnations: paper, digital, audio, makes no difference to me. I have them all. In fact, for some of my most favorite stories, I have a paper, digital, and audio version.

Do a quick search and you'll find myriad debates on the state of the publishing industry, digital v. paper and just as many people bemoaning the state of books. I say, suck it up. This is the way of the world. I download countless songs and albums from iTunes with nary a thought to the record stores, their owners, and employees that are no more.

It happened to them and it’s happening to us.

Free? $.99, $1.99, or $9.99 – there’s much talk about how much an eBook should cost and a lot of that is based on how legacy publishers priced their hardcovers for years and years. Just because a book is digital instead of printed on layers of pressed pulp which have been dried, collated, and bound does not diminish the true value of a story well-told.

And if you’ve ever tried to create a story well-told, then you know it’s not easy.

I don’t have an unlimited source of income, so I like buying eBooks from $.99 - $4.99. I'm a regular visitor to the Nook Deal of the Day. If an author chooses to sell at $0.99, that’s his/her choice, but I also don’t mind paying $9.99 for an eBook, because in the end, I’m not paying for the mode in which the story is delivered so much as the true value of the item: a story well-told, and to me it’s worth it.

I recently read another blog post over at the Book Garden about this same image. It gives a nice explanation of how this argument is a bit flawed but ultimately ends up on the same side of the arguement as I do, totally worth it. It includes a keen observation from a commentator about the value of a good book versus other forms of entertainment.

Oh, and when the EMP strikes and kills all the eReaders, you'll be glad you've got some dried pressed pulp lying around.

Monday, September 17, 2012

League of Utah Writers: A Revolution

A few thoughts on the League of Utah Writers Roundup 2012

Roundup is a writers’ conference that hosts key note speakers and workshops over two days and allows for the growth of our craft and the ability to network with other writers, agents, and editors.

Roundup happens annually in September. LUW and Roundup have been around for a long long time. In the not too distant past, another conference started from a mere seed of eight LDS authors looking to help each other build their genre. That group became known as LDStorymakers. LDStorymakers grew from eight people to a conference that welcomed 400 people last May plus a waiting list. Although it still has a strong LDS vibe running just under the surface, they’ve since evolved to a more mainstream group including all genres and nearly all tastes.

As Storymakers gained in popularity, the old guard, Roundup, began to wane in attendance. Phrases like, “There’s no spark,” or “It feels like something is missing,” began to creep into the halls of Roundup. Storymakers is still as popular as ever, but with regard to this year’s Roundup, well, like George Costanza said after a bite of mango, “I’m back, baby!”

This year’s Roundup was a pleasure on all fronts. The key note speakers, Richard Paul Evans and Barry Eisler were both terrific. A host of talented authors offered workshops and panels that left me excited and frustrated since I pretty much wanted to attend them all yet they forced me to choose. But overall, there was a real sense of camaraderie that’s been missing. A feeling that we’re all in this together. As Barry Eisler said, a feeling of revolution.

Special call out to Precision Editing Group

They hosted Bootcamp, an extra service you had to sign up for at a very reasonable cost. We were divided into groups of five and critiqued each other’s pages along with an editor/author. I was lucky enough to be at Annette Lyon’s table. Along with all the other great stuff that came out of the session, I think I solved a problem in my WIP that’s been vexing me for six months.
Bootcamp really is the best part of every conference for me. You get fresh eyes on your work, from an experienced editor and/or author, and four or five genuine reader responses. Why is genuine reader response so valuable? Because when you write, it matters not one iota what you meant, it only matters what the reader understood. You may be brilliant in your own head, but readers don’t have security clearance to that zone.

The other reason I love Bootcamp? Networking. What a terrific way to meet other writers. People who think like you do.

People who get it!

Speaking of people who get it, it's a unique genre of people who can create a pick-up game of Dominion in the lobby of the hotel.

For reasons that may only be known to me, here are some callouts. For one reason or another, these people made a particular impact on my weekend (in no particular order):

            Annette Lyon
            Maxwell Alexander Drake
            Margot Hovley
            Marion Jenson
            Barry Eisler
            Richard Paul Evans
            Cory Webb
            Christy Monson
            Carol Shreeve
            Chadd VanZanten
            Martin Meyers
            Lucas Hunt
            Howard Tayler
            Emily Sanderson
            Shanna Hovley   
            Cynthia Loveland                                                              
            Sariah Horowitz  
Bruce Richardson
Nathan Croft

With any list like this, I’m sure I overlooked someone. If I did, let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to resolve the matter.

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