Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ernest Hemingway, Florida and Digital Publishing

Florida is a beautiful state. This was my first visit, other than Orlando and Disney World many years ago. I'm a native Californian with the smugness that most of us have regarding the climate, lifestyle, recreational opportunities and, of course, our universities, among them Cal Tech and Stanford rated the best in the WORLD, not just among the best, but the best depending on which survey you read.

Until now I'd disregarded Florida believing it to be a poor second to the Golden State. I was wrong. Florida's fall/winter climate is better than California's. The air is a smogless, breezy warm without the slightest hint of chill. Sunsets are brilliant and long, followed by the kind of coppery pink dusk that I thought Hawaii would have and doesn't. Both the Atlantic and Gulf are calm and comfortable enough for swimming, even in October, and clear enough to watch schools of fish circle just out of reach. The sand is cool, sugar white and powdery, the seafood fresh and delicious, the people kind and welcoming, and then there's the pie. Nothing beats the key lime pie. I rarely turn down any kind of dessert, but the tart sweet cream of Florida's traditional state pie is out of this world. I know Florida has hurricanes and floods, but California has earthquakes and fires and, recently, our share of flooding as well. I'd never considered retiring in Florida or anywhere else other than California, but inexpensive real estate, warm nights and that key lime pie just might change my mind. 

The Novelists' Inc. Conference was the reason for my visit. The focus was digital publishing. Until quite recently the organization of published authors frowned on digital publishing, but progress marches on and with the demise of print book stores, eBooks are clearly the wave of the future. Therefore, objections must be put aside. The numbers were clearly explained. Marketing and formatting, social networking and self-publishing were the catch words of the weekend. Industry professionals were eloquent, writers asked pointed questions. I learned a lot. Clearly, those savvy in advertising and promotion will reap the benefits of the self-publishing wave.

I'm still at the overwhelmed stage. Eventually, I expect to make sense of it all. I have a print publisher but I'm anxious to climb aboard the self-publishing bandwagon. It means I'll have to design covers, format text, upload to eBook sites, guest post, compose newsletters and create a fan email list. Interestingly enough, a Twitter or Facebook presence only rates 1.9% as far as bringing in sales, a poor showing compared to Barnes & Noble browsers at 25%, and word of mouth at 14%. (I'm not really sure what word of mouth is if it isn't Twitter and Facebook.)

The good news is self-published authors have control over when a book is published, cover art, marketing and royalties. The bad news is authors must pay for everything up front and hope to recoup their money, much like any other start up business. The other bad news is, what if a writer is good at writing but not so good at cover art and marketing? What if after all that publishing, searching for images, marketing, figuring out finances and working a day job, she falls into bed without a word written?

I visited Ernest Hemingway's Key West house this weekend. Ernest began writing at 6:00 am, fished all afternoon, drank at the local pub all evening and all night wrote impressions of the locals to include in his books. I wonder how he would have handled self-publishing and promotion. Like I said, I'm still at the overwhelmed stage.

Ernest Hemingway's Writing Room

No comments:

Post a Comment