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Oh, Behave November 3, 2011

Posted by bobv451 in business, conventions, e-books, fantasy, science fiction, VIPub, writing.

The World Fantasy Convention is always on my must-attend list because it is a business convention with a few fans and book collectors tossed in. Talking with editors, agents and other writers is invaluable and nothing I can do via Facebook or in a 140 character tweet. The back and forth, give and take, outright argument, huddled agreement simply cannot be done electronically. (I don’t talk so good on the phone or in Second Life since I miss the clues from whomever I’m talking with. In person I can see the body language, I hear the otherwise imperceptible sigh and get a real communication.)

If you want the real pulse of the publishing business, talk with booksellers. The ones I had long conversations with didn’t instill me with confidence in the print business. Greg Ketter took Dreamhaven in Mpls to an online only store this year. I’ve known some of his clerks for 40 years and they are topnotch. Some got jobs in other stores. The rest? Part of the 9.1% out there, I fear. But the physical store was a financial drain, online works for Greg. Other dealers talked of losing the middle out of their business. Low end still sells, high end collectors looking to finish collections at any price is ok but the midrange sales are just…desaparecido.

Listening is so important. People want to tell you their woes and booksellers’ woes are ours as authors.

But more than listening, there is other business going on. Hearing what excites editors is good and should excite you as a writer. But I see a distressing number of writers who look at what constitutes free booze (at parties, from the largesse of an editor’s expense account) as a reason to drink. If anything, it ought to be a signal to cut back and keep a clear head. I don’t drink when not at cons and never hit more than 3 beers in an evening at a con even with someone else buying. Keeps things professional on my part and I can actually remember what’s said–it might be important, it might mean a sale. It’s business.

Besides, the only people who like drunks are other drunks–or those with cameras ready to put every inebriated instant onto the Internet. Your moment of drunken goofiness will end up forever on YouTube. Is that the image you want? Foster Brooks might have made a career out of that, but I suspect he was never drunk when performing. You ought to consider yourself as being onstage when in public and act accordingly.

If you don’t, at least be inventively drunk. You might have a career in Hollywood. But probably not as a writer.

sculpture in downtown LA



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