My fellow panelists on a panel about independent publishing, pictured below, are James Best, the author of wonderful Western novels, and Santino J. Rivera, whose beautiful book is on the cutting edge of Latino culture. Our moderator was my dear friend, Grael Norton, from the hybrid publisher Wheatmark, with which I expect to do a total of six books in 2014.
My third panel presented aspiring authors with the choice of whether to try for New York legacy publishing, or whether to go with self-publishing or hybrid indie publishing. Since I have tried all three options at various times, I had a lot of information to share. While once it was an easy choice – go with a legacy publisher if you can, or otherwise go indie and hope a legacy publisher will eventually pick you up – the world is changing with amazing speed. And the fact that nowadays to sell a book to a New York publisher means that it can be maintained as an ebook by them forever so you will almost certainly never get back those rights makes the choice even tougher. Nearly all novels published by legacy publishers soon go out of print, and the author doesn’t even control the price of that forever ebook: I met someone in Tucson whose legacy-published book is now just an ebook priced at $40 and therefore never purchased. I have taken back and reissued two novels that were published by Berkley and by Doubleday twenty years ago, and it saddens me to think that young writers who gamble on New York today will probably never have that privilege.
But everyone I spoke with loved the Festival! What a joyous experience it was. By some estimates there were 140,000 people in attendance, and I feel as if I got to meet and enjoy at least half of them during two absolutely beautiful spring days in Tucson. Arizona may be hot in summer, but there is no weather on earth more perfect than a spring day in the desert!
In addition to providing two unforgettable days each year where words and imagination truly come to life, the Tucson Festival of Books also supports literacy programs in Tucson and Southern Arizona. Since its launch in 2009, the Festival has contributed $900,000 to local literacy programs.
The Tucson Festival of Books is already on my calendar again for next year. I hope to have the chance to meet you there!