Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Colliding Words

Sharon Wildwind

If you’ve done something twice, is it a tradition? I certainly hope so because two weekends ago I attended the second When Words Collide Conference here in Calgary. This is one tradition I sincerely hope continues.

When Words Collide was put together by a whole bunch of people I’ve known for the better part of two decades. The conference is all about genre literature, so if you read, write, illustrate, publish, or sing anywhere in the science fiction, fantasy, romance, mystery, Sherlockian, steampunk, paranormal, urban fantasy, filk song, young adult genres or any mash or cross-over of those genres, WWC is for you.

Here are some of the high points of what I learned.

The University of Calgary Library, Special Collections is collecting retro video games and the equipment they ran on. They are most interested in the time period of the 1970s and 1980s. In some cases, they are having to rebuild or repair the computers in order to get them to play. Helen Clarke, librarian and Associate Vice-Provost - Collection commented, “This project is the first time I’ve seen a librarian with an soldering iron.” If you have a game, or a machine that might fit in this collection, get in touch with special collections. Their e-mail address is archives@ucalgary.ca

Irene Adler appeared in only one Sherlock Holmes story; Mycroft Holmes in two; the Baker Street Irregulars also in two; and Moriarty in one, but they are indelibly part of the Holmes canon. It just goes to show what you can do with great character development.
~ Charles Prepolec and Jeff Campbell, co-editors of Gaslight anthologies of Sherlock Holmes stories

Romance is about the surrender and acceptance of power. Anything that increases a character’s vulnerability and gives another character an opportunity to refuse to take advantage of that vulnerability is romantic.
~ Panel: Beyond the Bedroom — There’s more to Romance than Sex

Cooperative efforts between genre and literary writers strengthen both camps. Literary books are about a central event, happening in an arena surrounded by hungry tigers. Science fiction asks the big questions. Fantasy books teach us about survival. Horror shows how to mess with readers’ head. Mysteries are about strategy. Romantic characters bond with their opponents.

The question has stopped being should an author traditionally publish, self-publish, or e-publish. The expectation has now become that all authors will publish in each way at some point in his or her career. The question now is, which publishing format best matches my current work in progress?
~ Repeated in one form or another in almost every panel

In 2011, in the U. S., sales for every category (except one) of paper-based books declined from 2010 figures. The exception was young adult books, because of the Hunger Games. However, reading is on the rise for the first time in decades, thanks to electronic devices. Many returning readers make the switch initially for one kind of book, for example, to read something for their job. Then they rapidly expand into other kinds of books. Readers are doing direct buys more, browsing less, and visiting fewer bookstores. You have to go where the readers are if you want to sell.
~ Adrienne Kerr, editor, Penguin (Canada)

90% of the people who want to write a book never start. 90% of the people who start writing a book never finish. 90% of the people who finish writing a book have busier than average lives, so the line “I could write a book if I only had the time” doesn’t hold water.

$8.99 for an e-book seems to be the tipping point for reader anger. Books listed for less than that amount get a reasonable distribution of good/bad reviews. Books priced over that amount tend to get flamed on review sites. There also seems to be a movable tipping point for piracy, depending on the kind of book and audience. Go over the price tip point and people will download the book from any source they can find.

Having trouble coping with social media? Relax. Social media may be on its way out. What’s going to replace it? Frankly, I haven’t heard that part of the story yet. Someone on a social media panel recommended a local monthly gathering of people interested in social media and, when I checked out the group out on line, the death of social media turned out to be the topic of their August meeting. I can’t wait to hear what they have to say.

And if you like planning way, way ahead, When Words Collide III is 2013 August 9 to 11, here in Calgary. Come on up. You’ll have a great time.
Quote for the week
Publishing is a button, not a job description.
~ Adrienne Kerr, Commissioning Editor, Commercial Fiction, Penguin (Canada)


Sandra Parshall said...

It's always thought-provoking to get different perspectives. Interesting times we live (and write) in!

Anonymous said...

The times they are a changing, very, very fast. It's exciting to find out what will come next.