Sunday, May 30, 2010

Reader Survey

I'm making a potential reader survey: Is this a cover that would cause you to pick up the book?

I committed time to an online course for the American Christian Fiction writers. It was an intensive effort and I put eight to ten hours a day into it for an entire month leading the discussion and answering what questions I could, finding out anything I couldn't answer.

I looked at the huge amount of information when it finished, but I had a lot of the 600 participants asking for a print version that they could use as a resource. I compiled it into a book which Port Yonder Press will soon have out. I'm very pleased.

I have it available for pre-order in the bookstore at my website and for those who do pre-order, I'm sending them a smaller ebook version to use until the print version is available.

So what do you think? Is this a cover that would entice you to take a look? Or would a cover along this theme but using a real person work better? Leave a comment and tell me.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Meet Miss Makayla

The vital statistics: 7 pounds 6 oz 20" long. Born to Marcie and Jason Gunter at 11:43 pm on 5/24/10

I couldn't go over when Saundra did and it's driving me nuts. Grandchild number ten and the first granddaughter in eighteen years. I'm going to get mom to go over this weekend.

Here's a shot of big brother Jalen meeting his little sister and holding her for the first time. If this young lady doesn't end up spoiled rotten it'll be a miracle!

The roster of Grandkids:

1. Shanda Hendrichs - Wife of Kenneth Hendrichs - lives in Dallas Area

2. Kasey Seeberger - recent college grad - lives in Arkansas

3. Jacob Lambright - living in Palestine Texas

4. Mandy Lambright - sophmore at Abilene Christian University

5. Preston Burns - lives in Carlsbad NM

6. Jalen Guenter - lives in Elk City OK

7. Alex Waters - lives in Elk City OK

8. Brice Burns - lives in Carlsbad NM

9. Sean Burns - lives in Carlsbad NM

10. Makayla Guenter - lives in Elk City OK

What a roster!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Those Niche Markets

It was nice to have a group of clients all at one place and time at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference in Estes Park. I was able to get with all of them but scheduling was such that I couldn’t put together a little meeting with all at once. I would have liked that, and had a great cabin it could have been done in. Maybe next time. Still, there was some strategizing, some sharing of information, and good times to just get to know one another better.

I do want to get all my clients pubbed. I know the odds say that I won’t, but I’m trying. It was interesting when the editors sat down on the “Future of Publishing” panel that they remarked how the midlist was disappearing and it was becoming either big or little. The larger publishers not wanting to address any niche markets and the small independents making a living identifying and serving the niche markets the bigs don’t want to do. Over the past year or so I have taken some of my clients into these niche markets and have even gone that way with my own books.

I am still more interested in having major titles with major publishers, but I am not afraid to use the niche markets to try and get authors started. A larger publisher bringing out a book and not getting some significant five figure sales can hurt on trying to sell more books. An independent publisher set up to go into a market of modest four figures sales and the author does so and does so with a solid number looks more attractive to another publisher than someone who maybe sold more books but where the expectation was higher. In other words, quickly selling out a print run of 2000 copies might be more impressive than selling 5,000 copies when the expectations were much higher than that.

All of the start-ups and small independents are serving some modest but very viable markets. The Future of Publishing panel saw that as an emerging trend and one that would be increasingly important. They also pointed out how quickly things can change in publishing these days and these smaller organizations can identify changes and turn on a dime whereas the larger ones need time to work change in the organization. They felt authors can benefit from the changing nature of publishing if they were abreast of the changes and they could turn on a dime as well, maybe even a nickle.

Some of the new technologies are gaining a following, but again, the smaller organizations are better positioned to identify and utilize them, and again authors and agents are better positioned to identify and embrace such technologies. Larger organizations have the resources to make more effective use of a new technology once it is established, but the smaller ones will lead the way.

It's a brave new world in publishing.


Monday, May 17, 2010

The One That Got Away

Just had an interesting discussion with a client who was concerned about taking an offer, concerned that a bigger one might be getting away. I said, let me set your mind at ease, a bigger one IS getting away.

A bigger one is always getting away. When we're looking to buy a car and we get the best deal we can find, are we letting a better deal get away? Probably. How about a house, a TV set, no matter what we are buying or selling we have to do the best we can do because there is probably always that elusive deal that we just don't know about.

With book deals it can be that we aren't there at the right time, there isn't a catalog slot open but maybe later there will be. We're ahead of or right behind the curve. They just did one like it and we missed it, or maybe some time later they will be able to do another one. The market is not right for it, but maybe later will be.

Unless we are signing that big, bestseller-bound deal, there is always the possibility that we are letting a bigger opportunity get away by taking an offer. Life is just like that. We have to let the bird-in-the-
hand get away to take a shot at something else. Is it worth it?

That depends. Does the gamble pay off? We do pass on the smaller offer and do land the big one then it is. We pass on it and end up with no deal, then it wasn't. Like Clint Eastwood said when he stuck that big pistol of his in a guys face, cocked it, and said "Do you feel lucky?"

It's the author's call and I've had them win and I've had them lose. Sure, I make sure they know what they are giving up and what they might get. I try to make sure they understand all the variables, but I sure don't tell them what to do.

After all, when it comes right down to it, Clint is right, "Do You Feel Lucky?"

Just thought I'd share that with you.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Congratulations are in order!

I'm proud to congratulate clients Stefanie Morris (left) and Lynda Schab (right) for being named finalists in the American Christian Fiction Writer's Genesis contest. This is a highly contested event with a lot of entries and is quite an achievement. This is Stefanie's second time to final in this event.

I'd also like to congratulate client Curt Isles as his book "A good Place" is a bronze finalist in the Independent Publishers Association IPPY awards. Another well deserved recognition.

Last but certainly not least congratulations to Jill Williamson, who is a Christy Award finalist for her book By Darkness Hid. I'm the agent of record on that book.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Snow, memorials, and pictures

We are at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference in beautiful Estes Park Colorado. As we made our way over the mountain, we ran into the storm and though it was mid-afternoon, the snow had apparently been falling over here since 11am. I use the word storm, actually it was falling heavily in large flakes, but was falling softly, straight down. We are used to snow that comes at us sideways. It is very beautiful and Saundra has already ripped off 100 or so pictures.

Just before we got here we got a phone call from my cousin Judy that her mother had passed away. Our desire was to see if I could get someone else to teach my classes and turn around and go back. However, with eighteen inches now on the ground and still lightly falling that does not appear to be in the cards. It's clear we cannot safely get there in time. We are saddened by that but somehow I think Judy’s mother, Peggy Smith, would understand. Judy herself told us not to attempt it, particularly with mother in the car with us.

Peggy was the oldest of my generation of cousins, so I guess as second in line that makes me . . . never mind, I don’t want to go there. She was enough older that I was closer in age to her daughters and it was them I ran around with more. Peggy herself was closer to the age of the younger of the aunts and uncles. Still, I thought the world of her and I smile to think of the grand reunion that is going on right now.

I have picked a couple of Saundra’s pictures to show you how pretty it is up here. We aren’t in the dorms this year but opted for a cozy little cabin, although we were disappointed that we didn’t get one with a fireplace as we were supposed to get. We will think of Peggy often during this event and wish we were there for the services. But we will console ourselves that we are very close to where she is now up here high in the Rocky Mountains.

Very close indeed.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Reading at the VA

My cousin, Amy Kelley, is a therapist at the VA Hospital here in Amarillo. She asked if I would come and do a reading from my new book of collected short works entitled "On The Road Home" from Port Yonder Press. I was happy to do so.

Had a nice group including a guy that just turned 101 and another who at 96 has several books in print, primarily poetry, that he is understandably proud of. I picked a couple of short stories that had sort of a military theme with my usual surprise endings, and a couple of western oriented ones. They seemed to prefer the westerns.

I put a couple of them to sleep, of course, but my cousin says that is to be expected. Reading aloud will put my mom to sleep immediately too.

I enjoyed watching Amy work. She is so VERY good with these old guys (even older than me)and they obviously think the world of her. She has such patience, such a loving tone, yet is firm enough that they will do as she asks. She's a natural.

It was a nice outing, and I enjoyed doing it.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Oklahoma Writer's Federation

I just returned from this conference and wanted to take a moment to comment on it.

Bottom line? This is a great conference. The organization has members from a five state area, but of course you do not have to be a member to attend the conference. I didn't get a head count but did hear that it was in the 400 range. They had excellent faculty and programming and the facility worked really well having housing and all of the program under one roof.

The dress was casual except for the banquet where the finery came out including some very ornate gowns. I noticed quite a number did not come prepared to do that but were not made to feel out of place, nor did they seem uncomfortable dressing down a bit.

There was a good selection of editors and agents present and most attendees took full advantage of the appointments available to them. The conference price was very reasonable, and with Oklahoma City being right in the center of the country, access was good and the conference was held in easy shuttle distance of the airport.

This is a laid back, easy going conference that was a lot of fun and it is easy to recommend. It was rewarding to me personally as well. A lady came up after my program and said "I've been coming to this conference since 1973, and that was the best talk I've ever heard." Now that's a complement with meat on the bone.