I’m trying to concentrate on writing this blog post but I hear my husband snapping shut the latches of his suitcase. We are leaving tomorrow for a multi-city Europe trip, part work, part play. He’s always ready early and I’m the one pleading, “Don’t call the cab yet! Give me ten minutes!” As you can guess I haven’t packed, but I think it is more important to give an overview of Litquake’s Digital Publishing Conference.
I’ve been reticent to spend money on writer’s conferences this year. While I’m sure I’ll never become rich by being a writer, I also don’t want to lose money. There are many people out there preying on the hopes and dreams of writers and this scares me. On the other hand, I love Litquake, the conference was reasonably priced and local, so I figured what the hell.
I’m glad I went. It was a small conference and everyone there was super intense and very friendly and very professional. Whereas at SF writer’s conference (no disrespect, it is a great conference) I met many people who were in the early stages of writing a book, at digi.lit I met published authors, publishers, editors, and other industry professionals in a very casual setting.
Case in point: Rudy Rucker, a great science fiction author and one of the speakers, sat next to me at lunch and told me how his publishers have developed a “meh” attitude towards him since his current books (he’s written over 30) aren’t selling as many copies as his former blockbusters. Self-publishing has allowed him to keep distributing his books to fans. I was pretty horrified that book publishers would treat such a well-known author with such disrespect, but everyone assured me this is very common.
A real eye-opening moment for me? Remember, we are at a digital publishing conference. A panelist asked the audience how many people would like to see their work in print (aka hardcopy). Nearly everyone raised their hands. Then she asked how many people would be happy with a digital-only release. I WAS ONE OF ONLY THREE PEOPLE TO RAISE MY HAND. Sorry for the all caps, but woah. WFT? San Francisco, heart of the internet, 2014? Hello?
Maybe I’ve got a jump on this because I’m a science fiction writer, but I was shocked that so many people didn’t think digital things were real, that words had to be on pieces of trees and shipped around the country in gas fueled trucks or planes. And, worse, held awkwardly in bed at night. I’ve got a signed copy of a steampunk-esque book that weighs close to three pounds and I roll from side to side like a chicken on a spit, wishing I’d gotten it on my kindle instead.
Speaking of which…I’ve got to pick out some books for the flight tomorrow. Isn’t that the best thing about digital? I do patronize my local bookstore (got my dad “The Martian” from Borderlands for father’s day) but at 9 p.m. on a Monday night, when the bookstores are closed and I’ve got an early flight and a 50-pound limit on my luggage, I am beyond happy that I can buy and download any book that ever existed right here and now–and it weighs nothing.