I rode BART into SF and hiked up Powell Street to The Sir Francis Drake Hotel to attend the 2013 San Francisco Book Festival that started at 11:00 am on May 18, and discovered by 9:45 pm—almost eleven hours later when I hiked back to BART to ride home—that giving up a day of writing was worth what I learned and the connections I made.
I think the event was more for writers than readers and considering the number of writers and want-to-be writers in the Bay area there should have been more people in attendance to learn about today’s fast changing publishing environment.
But many of today’s authors have no idea how important it is to learn all you can to understand how challenging it is to attract an audience in addition to the dangers that can destroy an author’s career.
The six-scheduled free discussions—open to the public—were packed with information from journalists, writers, poets, publicists, and traditionally published or indie published authors with a wide range of experience.
The first panel of four met at 11:00 am and focused on the art of marketing and promotion—an examination of what it takes to get your work noticed in a crowded marketplace.
To understand how crowded, Bowker says, “The number of self-published books produced annually in the U.S. has nearly tripled, growing 287 percent since 2006, and now tallies more than 235,000 print and “e” titles.”
For comparison, traditional publishers put out between 300,000 and 350,000 new titles annually but the average avid reader only reads 9 or 10 books a year. Do the math and you will understand why it is important to get out there and compete for readers—that is if you are interested in anyone reading your work.
In addition, reading books isn’t dying as some fear—but the way people read books is changing drastically.
R. R. Bowker reports, “that Gen Y’s 2011 book expenditures rose to 30 percent—up from 24 percent in 2010—passing Boomers (born 1946 – 1964) 25 percent share. And with 43 percent of Gen Y’s (born 1978 – 1990) purchases going to online channels, they are adding momentum to the industry shift to digital.
And the Los Angeles Times says, “Total trade book sales in the U.S. reached $7.1 billion in 2012, up from $6.7 billion the prior year.”
“The book industry is operating in a new and dynamic landscape that puts much more power in the hands of consumers,” said Kelly Gallagher, vice-president of Bowker Market Research. “Consumers can now very easily purchase virtually any book they want, whenever they want it and get it at a competitive price. It’s more essential than ever before to understand who is buying and what their expectations and habits are.” Source: Bowker.com
During the first break of the SF Book Festival, I met Jean Davidson, Ph.D., the author of two nonfiction books: Mother of Fire and The Ostrich Wakes—two books I now want to read after talking to her.
Then I had a brief conversation with Porter Gale, the author of Your Network is Your Net Worth. Gale was the former VP of Marketing at Virgin America with more than twenty years of experience working in marketing and filmmaking. I wanted to talk longer but the next lecture started at 1:00 pm, and I did not get a chance to reconnect.
The 1:00 – 2:10 pm panel topic was Writing About your Life. Because my next book is a memoir, I wanted to hear what the four experienced authors had to say. For example, one member of the panel was Dean Dimitrieski—the winner of the Biography/Autobiography category of the festival—who wrote Tears For My City.
I wanted to attend the 2:30 – 3:30 pm panel on Children’s Books in a Modern Age, but during the break I got into a conversation with Lone Morch, the author of Seeing Red, and then talked with Patty Kogutek, the author of A Change of Habit—and met her husband, a Vietnam vet who has led a fascinating life—and felt it was worth staying.
At 3:40 pm, there was a powerful and dramatic poetry reading by Dr. Neal Hall, a multi-award winning poet quickly followed at 4:10 with an active panel of five discussing The Future of Books. Three of the five panelists combined had at least eighty years of experience in publishing/journalism. This was followed by an inspiring presentation by Richie Norton, who wrote the grand-prize winner The Power of Starting Something Stupid.
At 5:00, the free admission portion of the book festival ended, and off I went through the streets of San Francisco to have dinner at the Millennium Restaurant.
At 7:00, the award winners returned to attend the award ceremony of the festival—with open bar and a buffet—where I learned that less than five-percent of the authors and poets who submitted entries to this festival’s literary contest were honored with recognition from the judging staff of authors, publishers, journalists, agents, directors and others committed to supporting the literary community. After months of hard work where these judges read, discussed, analyzed and even argued, the list of award winners was announced leading to May 18.
I’m already planning to attend the 2014 San Francisco Book Festival.
His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.
And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.
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