Last night was the “Meet the Author” program at our local library. When I blogged about my thoughts about different types of presentations (find it here if you missed it), I promised to let everyone know how it went.
First – there were no cookies. Seems that the other two programs I attended were actually special book club meetings, and those are the ones where the librarian provides refreshments. Sigh. But they did have pitchers of water.
The setup was very comfortable—nice easy chairs for us on either end of a long table where we could display our books. My partner for the evening was a debut author, J.L. Austgen, so he had one book. I had six of mine on the table, but I don’t think he felt intimidated.
To start, the librarian simply turned the program over to us, telling us we could do whatever we wanted. I turned that around and asked the audience what they wanted to know about.
Speaking of the audience, turnout was small, but the group was friendly and enthusiastic, and it’s my favorite kind of program. We didn’t have time limits, or strict topics, so if someone asked a question that took us in a different direction, that’s where we went.
We each gave a brief, “How I Started Writing” introduction, and we couldn’t have been more different if it had been planned that way, which was good, because there is no single road to becoming a writer, and if you’re like me and didn’t start writing until well into your AARP years, that’s no reason not to write.
Austgen spent years writing his first book, and years trying to go the traditional route. He ended up hiring an editor and forming his own publishing company rather than going the “straight” indie route. Since I’ve worked with e-publishers and a more traditional publisher as well as indie, we had lots of information to share.
One thing people don’t seem to realize is that writing isn’t a get-rich-quick profession. One woman in the audience said a friend of hers had self-published a book and was depressed because Amazon (I think—but it could have been another POD press) charged for the books so she only made four dollars per sale. Austgen and I laughed. One of the things I’ve tried to do is keep my pricing low, even if it means I make less per book. I’d love to make four dollars on a book. When I explained that the typical royalty for a traditional book was somewhere in the 6–10% range, and that I probably made a quarter on most of my trade books when they were with Cerridwen, she was shocked. And I’m sure she told her friend to be happy with her four dollars. (For the record, my Create Space print books are priced so I take home a little over ONE dollar per sale.)
One woman asked if either of us put “real places” in our books, and I swear, she could have been a plant, because in preparing for this program, I thought that if I had to do a reading, I’d rather tie it in to something “craft” related, and setting came to mind. So, I’d printed out a scene from Danger in Deer Ridge, which is set in a place the audience members should recognize. Austgen read from his prologue, which was another example of setting.
We talked about creating characters, and that neither of us plots much in advance. Austgen is a “write the whole draft, then fix it” person, while I’m a “fix as you go” person. We talked about our writing schedules. Austgen goes by time; I go by word count. And, I hope we covered topics the audience wanted to hear. All in all, it was a fun evening. Even without the cookies.
Causes Terry Odell Supports
Pro Literacy Worldwide, The Nature Conservancy, The Adult Literacy League, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society