The State of the Industry by HelenKay Simon and Shauna Summers
HelenKay (https://helenkaydimon.com/) is not only an author of many books but also serves on the board for RWA National. Shauna Summers is a publisher of many romance books. They delivered the information from the publisher’s side first, then the author’s side. Then they will take questions.
Shauna explained that the publishing industry seems to be waiting to see what the next “Big Thing” will be. Distribution and Discoverability are still issues that are not about to change. They are trying to stay on the forefront. Always looking for innovation. Which they will know when they see it.
HelenKay struggles to address all the different groups in RWA with all their different needs. Become part of the structure, hold office in your local chapter, give feedback to the board, these things will help get your point of view across.
You have to want it, to want to see your book in print, and you have to work your ass off. You have to know what the market wants. For a time, Twilight killed contemporary, then romantic suspense went out of fashion, and historical has always been iffy.
Yes, it is okay to write in more than one genre, but use a pen name. Be clear on what the heat level is.
Keep open communications with your publisher. If you publish both traditional and indy, be sure to let the publisher know when your indy book is coming out. Otherwise one might steal sales from the other. This is what is referred to as cannibalized.
Publishers don’t do much with print ads because it is hard to get to the right audience and it is expensive. Romantic Times and similar publications are really the only venues. Reader events are better for connecting with fans. These are also called Kiss Cons. These are great opportunities to connect personally with readers.
Of course, there are examples of things gone horribly wrong. A publisher messed up the pages of one of HelenKay’s books. All the Walmarts in Texas returned all those books. She did nothing to create this situation, still, it looks bad in the stats. And, more importantly, it reflects poorly on the author to her fans who bought the book before the corrections could be made. HelenKay sent a correct author’s copy signed with an “I’m so sorry” card and any other of her books that they wanted. No, it was not her fault but she wanted to take care of her readers.
In other news, the New York Times just changed their best seller list criteria. And Lorilee Brown won a Rita with her Female/Female romance. Lots of good news from that conference and award ceremony.
In closing, these women reminded us, in spite of the popular saying, you don’t only have to write a good book. A good book is the start, You have to handle the business end, too. You can do it!
Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Sunday.