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.