where the writers are
Meet the Authors Recap

WPlibraryLast 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.