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Future of Publishing

Last weekend I attended a great conference in St. Petersburg. Held in a hotel on the beach, it’s amazing I was able to get any work done, but I did. The discussion panels were that good. In between sessions, I did sneak out and take a few photos. Who could blame me?

St Pete Beach

Some of the more interesting take away messages from the conference centered on the print industry, as in print books vs. ebooks. We all hear about the demise of bookstores, the print book going the way of the dinosaur with the onset of ereaders, but alas, it isn’t so. Print books are here, and I believe, here to stay. You see that beach up there? Who wants to get sand in their ereader? Not me. I take paperbacks to the beach!

But it’s more than reading venue that’s dictating the trends in publishing. It’s reader habit, reader access, and reader demand. Romance and Sci-Fi readers were the first to adapt to ereaders, consuming books at alarming rates. Memoirs, cooking books, history books, not so much. However, children’s books are definitely on the rise when it comes to ebooks. Blame it on the school systems handing out iPads, but I’m loving this news–I’m working on a children’s gardening book as we speak!

lower elementary on the lookout for bugs

However, the key to survival is marketing. (Isn’t it always?) Connecting with readers, offering services they want…

Take coffee houses. Connected them to a bookstore and you have the perfect combination. Wi-Fi centers, hangout spots, readers love to be surrounded by books and fellow readers. They also love great access, hence the onset of subscriptions services for books. One monthly fee gets you a ton of books, a very appealing concept for the voracious reader. Audio books is another avenue that is exploding right now. Today’s society is on the go and they want their “content” to go with them. Fast, easy, and accessible, kinda like a Big Mac or a Starbucks to go.

Authors and traditional publishing houses might be struggling to navigate through the changing tides, but readers aren’t. They’re surfing the waves and loving it. And I should know–I’m one of them! I embrace the increase in competition, the lower prices, the new and diverse type of content.

It’s been said that the only thing constant is change and it’s true, especially now. We are living and breathing “change” and five years from now, who knows what new devices will be on the market and what discussions we’ll be having. But I bet they’ll be exciting.

He Said, She Said: The Temperature Wars

Have you ever had a disagreement with your significant other over the temperature in the house? Whether you’re female or male, the answer is probably yes.

For years, my husband has been after me to install air-conditioning in the house. For years, I’ve resisted because I love to open the windows in the summer and let the natural breeze cool the house.

But last month, I finally gave in, and we now have a monstrosity of a unit outside our back door. And that’s when the temperature wars began…

He Said, She Said

He Said: (comes home from work, sweaty and hot) “It’s roasting in here. Why isn’t the air-conditioning on?”

She Said: (wearing t-shirt and sweats, and after a day inside, non-sweaty and cool) “It is. Give it a little while and you’ll adjust.”

He Said: (checking the temperature on the thermostat) “What’s the point of having air-conditioning if you’re going to keep it this hot? What a waste of money.”

She Said: (trying to be understanding) “If it’s set any lower, it’s too cold downstairs.”

He Said: “The temperature down there is only 20C (68F). How can that be too cold?”

She Said: (just the tiniest annoyed) “Trust me, it is.”

Ten minutes later, there’s a significant temperature change in the house. Upon checking the thermostat, she discovers the temperature has been lowered.

She Said: (pulling on a sweatshirt) “22 (71F) is too cold.”

He Said: “How can it be too cold? In the winter 22 is warm.”

air-conditioner

One hour later, she’s sitting in the downstairs family room reading, covered with a blanket. It’s so cold, she has to get a tissue because her nose is running. She heads upstairs to the dining room where he’s playing Solitaire on his PC…

She Said: (grumpy as all get out) “It’s freezing down there. It’s freezing up here, too. The air-conditioner has been running for a solid hour without stopping.”

He Said: (bundled up in a warm sweater) “How do you know? You can’t hear it inside the house.”

She Said: (seething) “The furnace room is right across from me. I can hear it run and it’s not clicking off.”

He Said: “Not possible.”

She Said: (stomping away, heading back downstairs to the good book she’s reading) “I’m not stupid, you know. Go sit in the family room for a while and you’ll see what I mean. It’s so cold, I’m ready to haul out my winter jacket.”

He Said: (actually, he just ignores her, which pisses her off to no end, and makes her regret installing the stupid air-conditioner)

Finally, she goes outside to warm up, but because it’s still hot enough to fry eggs on the pavement, she’s soon all sweaty. She gives up and heads inside, grabs a second blanket and hauls it downstairs…

Two hours later, he comes down to the family room…

He Said: (hands in pockets, looking smug and righteously right) “It’s nice down here.”

Then he goes back upstairs.

At bedtime, the air-conditioner gets turned off. The windows upstairs stay closed because, you know, you’re not supposed to open the windows when you have air-conditioning.

The residual heat from the day is trapped inside the house and the temperature in the bedroom climbs. Despite the fan above the bed, it keeps getting hotter, until she finally heads outside to cool off…or maybe just cool down.

She Said: “Stupid air-conditioner. Stupid men. One of them has to go.”

Do you have He Said, She Said moments in your household, too? If so, I’d love to hear about them!

RT Extravaganza

Just returned from the RT Booklovers Convention in Kansas City and what fun. Plus, it snowed! Yep, in May, we had a snowstorm. Took pictures for my kids which they thoroughly enjoyed. As Floridians, snow is thrilling. Unfortunately, my assistant Tiffany had to drive home through it. 😦

RT Convention

Isn’t she great? She drove two hours to help me with the Thursday book signing and I couldn’t have done it without her. Much to everyone’s delight, she passed out cornbread recipe cards and steered them straight to my table. WTG, Tiffany!

We sold some books, made some new friends and look forward to attending again next year ~ in New Orleans! I also had the pleasure of meeting my fellow Central Florida Romance Writers Lori Sjoberg and Roxanne St. Claire. Always nice to see friendly faces. Ran into Brenda Novak as well and if you’re not familiar with her annual online auction for juvenile diabetes, it’s a must see, with a ton of great items for readers, writers — everyone!

Reader conventions are so much fun, they’re definitely my new focus. Do you know of any great ones? 

Until then, must get back to writing. After hearing the amazing success stories from my fellow indie authors – my juices are energized!

Book Clubs

Last week I attended my first book club meeting with a group of women discussing my novel, Jennifer’s Garden.  First and foremost, it was a privilege to be there and second, I was thrilled to take part!

Writing is a solitary endeavor and connecting with readers is done primarily via the web, book signings and the like.  So when I had the opportunity to meet and chat with readers in person, I jumped on it.  Unabashedly.

girl reading

In light of this, one woman asked, “Do you ever get lonely?  Spending so much time by yourself at the computer?”

I laughed.  Me?  Lonely?  Never!  I have too many characters to keep me company and not enough hours to write about them!  I also have kids and a husband and a part-time dog.  Who has time to be lonely?

But I understood the point she was making.  So many writers do spend hours upon hours alone, with no feedback, no validation, no connection to those enjoying their books.  It’s tough.  Very tough.  But we write, because we have to write, don’t we?

As a reader, I love book clubs because they introduce me to stories I would never experience on my own.  There are certain departments in the bookstore I never venture, certain books I’d never pull from the shelf.  I think everyone can attest to having their favorites.  So when I hazard out of my comfort zone, I’m the better for it. I’m exposed to new and wonderful authors, interesting trains of thought…

It’s mind-opening.  Glorious!  But one of the greatest rewards I gained from attending the book club meeting as the author of said book was listening to women “get” my stories.  They understood the theme, agreed, disagreed and discussed

It was awesome.  Authors:  have you ever attended a book club meeting this way?  Readers:  ever thought about asking the author to attend?  Works especially well when seeking “local authors” in your area.  That’s how I was discovered!!

Readers Say The Darnedest Things!

Every once in awhile, I’m blessed to receive a comment from a reader through the contact page on my website (www.christyhayes.com). I have a static website which means I don’t go there very often other than to update my books page when I have a new book coming out.

My most recent comment came from a man who identified himself as a married gentleman in his fifties with three sons. He downloaded one of my books because of the cover and, let’s face it, the price—it’s the one book I have permanently free on pretty much every online retailer but Barnes & Noble. He said he was pleasantly surprised to find that he enjoyed the book despite the fact that he was reading what he termed the book version of a “chick flick.”

Dodge the BulletI loved his comment and was so thrilled to find it in my inbox. I wish I could express to this man how much I appreciated his compliment. The components that make up a good chick flick are the same components that make up an entertaining novel—empathetic characters, an engaging plot, and a satisfying ending. I wonder if this man also enjoys watching a chick flick as much as my very manly husband.

This is what I love about reading outside my genre. Mostly through my book club, I discover authors and genres and books that I never would have considered reading if not for the peer pressure of finishing the book by the time of our monthly meeting. I’ve read memoirs, non-fiction, mysteries, and literary fiction that I would never have picked up off the virtual shelf if not forced to by someone else’s choice.

What about you, readers of women unplugged? Have you ever read a book and been surprised that you enjoyed a genre you didn’t think you’d like?

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