The Buzzword? Digital.

NYC Workout View

NYC Workout View

If there was one word we kept hearing last week at RWA, it was digital. We heard it from excited people, disillusioned people, scared people, and confused people. Digital options are opening up a Brave New World, but no one seems to be sure how that will change the current landscape, only that it will.

The most immediate change seems to be that most publishers are open to new ideas. If you follow either Lynn or me on twitter, you may have seen us live tweet from various publisher spotlights. We attended Spotlights for Avon, Carina, Harlequin Series, Pocket, Tor, and Berkley. There was only one (Pocket) that didn’t say they were looking for Westerns. Last year, I’m pretty sure no one was looking for Westerns, because I would have noticed.  Last year, the message was, “Here’s what we already publish; if you want us to publish you, please submit more of the same.” This year was, “We’re open to all kind of new possibilities.” (I think my favorite may have been the editor at Tor, who said she really wanted someone to submit a book about a ghost ship. Can someone get on that one?)

Why is that tied to digital? I think a large part of the credit goes to Carina Press, who started publishing digital first books last June and is showing all of us that it can be successful. They’re taking chances on different settings and niche books, and by and large it’s working. Avon Impulse is  - from what I understand – starting out with novellas, some of which are tied to other full-length print/ebooks that are coming out later. But they’re accepting full length books for digital first publishing, and that’s where they’ll take most of their chances on unusual settings.

And how will digital self-publishing change things? Many authors seemed to think it just might give them another option for their bag of tricks. I think a lot of people will be watching to see how Connie Brockway’s book does.

I met her at the Avon party, by the way. She’s very nice, though she told me as we all took yet another tiny but calorie laden dessert, that you pretty much have to plan on eating 10,000 calories a day at RWA. That is probably true, though in all fairness we chowed down at parties because they cut out dessert from both luncheons (and in one case, severely underfed the vegetarians). Nonetheless, I don’t think anyone was in danger of starving to death in New York. Which is why, like last year – I included a picture of my spectacular workout view. In this case, it’s from the 23rd floor of the conference hotel. Not too shabby.

18 thoughts on “The Buzzword? Digital.

  1. She is dedicated. . . My treadmill hasn’t seen me in months. . (and now I feel guilty. . . so it will see me today)

    Well it seems that digital has opened up more story arc for readers, which even if you don’t have an e-reader is a good thing.

  2. Obsessed might be more like it. I was about to go work out on our last day there, and Dave said, “Honey, we’re about to walk all over Manhattan. Do you think maybe that can be enough today?”

    I think opening up the genre to other settings is completely exciting. As Lynn said yesterday, bring on the colonials!

  3. “Ghost Ship”, the next Liaden Universe book by Lee & Miller, is an August release from Baen, so it should be available in less than 2 weeks.

  4. I took the plunge and yesterday ordered a Kindle. I love the feel of books and wandering in book stores, but I think that digital is the way that publishing is going. The only complaint I have is the pricing. I think that digital books should be cheaper than a paperbook. You can buy a PB cheaper at Target or WalMart. So some books I will still buy in PB.

  5. I didn’t sit on any of the publisher spotlight except for Carina Press, but I did follow the tweets (and was ecstatic to hear about Westerns *g*) but I can totally see how digital publishing will change things completely.

    Last year I was one of those who swore they would never get an dreaded and now have two, a Kobo and an iPad. And I love them more than I thought possible. They really have changed the way I read, something that had been petty much the same all my life.

    On a broader scale, I can see where they have changed publishing down to it’s very core. For the first time in years I don’t feel at the mercy of publishers. It’s no longer the case where they dictate what we can read. Westerns, for example, were scarce since PUBLISHERS decided they didn’t sell enough and cut way back or completely stopped publishing them – and yes Avon I AM speaking to you.

    Now for those of wanting books in that genre, we have alternatives; digital publishers we can go. And the fact that some publishers – and yes Avon, I’m still looking at you are now getting on the bandwagon delights me to no end.

    I anguished along with many an author that publishers refused to publish the books of their hearts; the books I and many others wanted to read. It seemed many were forced to compromise in order to still be published.

    But with digital and self publishing with Connie Brockway leading the way, readers and authors both have the power and publishers will be watching us rather than the other way around.

    And it feels good. Damn good!

  6. I know I don t have any right to comment because I still pretty new in romance and publishing. Yet I feel that when the kindle ipod touch and ipad those machines made it easier for readers to sit down and take a breather. I think that with any innovation that companies should get ready to take the game up to next level and create the rules . Even if they make a few mistakes those companies or authors will be the first and the general public will be happy because they will know what not to do.Where is the limit. etc etc
    What is great about this authors that were rejected have a chance to see their work published on site like Avon Imprint or google books

  7. @ Ann – Pricing is definitely an issue for a lot of readers, especially when they see an ebook that’s MORE than its paperback counterpart. And I think that really frustrates authors too.

    @ KristieJ – It feels good to me, too. I don’t think I realized how much I missed Westerns until they all but disappeared. I like American Historicals in general, and I miss all the great Americana that used to be out there. Stephanie Mittman, Stef Ann Holm, Pamela Morsi…they used to write some good stuff.

  8. I’d try to be first in line to buy a book that had the ‘feel’ of Sutton Vane’s wrote OUTWARD BOUND. I’ll believe it when I see it. More than likely we’ll have shape-shifting ghosts with guns.

    Pricing probably needs to be related to word count – while keeping in mind that readers are not quite as stupid as some publishers believe. A novella should be a complete story – it annoys me and turns me off if it’s just a sales pitch for an upcoming book.

    Bless you for mentioning that vegetarians need to eat too!

  9. My biggest concern with digital is pricing. Sure, digital is convenient and very enjoyable, but you can’t lend out a digital book to a friend w/o a reader, or even if they do have a reader, most times, it is impossible. Paper can be borrowed out for years, and then sold. I really don’t believe that digital should equal paper when speaking of price.
    I am glad to hear about more westerns. Yay for that point. Wonderful!
    Another thing…I am not a big fan of the novella, unless it is free. I agree that it seems like an advertisement for an upcoming book. Make it free, or don’t do it at all. I never have or ever will purchase a novella digitally. I will only download and read if the price reads $0.00.

  10. I enjoyed the conference this year and look forward to next year’s.

    I respectfully disagree on your comment: I think a large part of the credit goes to Carina Press, who started publishing digital first books last June…

    I’m wondering how you came up with this claim? There are many successful ebook publishers that have been around a lot longer than Carina, Ellora’s Cave for example to name only one, that have paved the way for authors and digital publishing. I’ve been reading ebooks since 2004 from great e publishers and have only read one from Carina press, but I won’t comment on that. Just wondered where you got your statistics to show they deserve any major credit?

  11. One thing I do find irritating about digital publishing are the different formats. I understand that one can download apps (Kindle, Nook, Kobo) to one’s computer so you can read the books, but I dislike reading full length novels on it.

    If a book is not available in print or formatted to be read on my Nook, I won’t be reading it.

    • MaryC: If a book is not available in print or formatted to be read on my Nook, I won’t be reading it.

      I appreciate your comment. As an owner of both a nook and a sony reader, I am particularly irritated by the fact that it is not easy to transfer content from one digital reader to another. I understand that the different e book manufacturers and sellers want to gain the lion’s share of the ebook device market but just like a dvd is a dvd and can be played on any device, I think the same should be true of ebook readers.

  12. @Holly – I wasn’t suggesting that Carina Press was the first digital publisher, but to my knowledge they are the first “digital first” imprint of a major, already established print publisher. That other publishers (Avon and Tor among them) are now doing similar things seems to indicate that Carina is both successful and influential. That it, of course, just my opinion of the matter.

  13. Yes, it’s your opinion of course, just as it is my opinion that the tone of your article would suggest that Carina paved the way and has made a major breakthrough in e-publishing.

    This is from your article:

    Why is that tied to digital? I think a large part of the credit goes to Carina Press, who started publishing digital first books last June and is showing all of us that it can be successful.

    We all read things differently online, I guess, and that’s how it read to me. But that’s okay whatever works in marketing and promo.

  14. @Blythe, I hit submit too fast. The last part of your statement that I quoted is what made me think what I thought, because you state that Carin is showing all of us that it can be successful. I believe Ellora’s Cave and other reputable epublishers have already proven that digital publishing can be successful for many authors and books and gives the reader a lot of choices, not to mention the price is better than paperback and hard back covers. That’s just my opinion as well, but, you have to admit, the way it’s written makes it look like Carina invented the concept of digital press.

  15. Danette and Annette, aka Nicole Foster were unable to attend RWA this year, but all of the news in this post is great for us. Thanks so much. We’re finishing up our first e-book, which happens to be a Western. For once, maybe we’ll catch a trend. Anyone who’s published knows how that usually goes! We’ve also started a new e-publishing company, Deux Amis, LLC. We’re staffing and working on the website now, and although all of these changes in the industry are scary to us as well, we’re hoping in the end, they will benefit both authors and readers. Thanks again for sharing the news.

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