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Carol was a panelist for Publishing: Traditional or Independent.
At Detcon she met some folks from Baen and was encouraged to submit MisRouted to them.
At the panel, she discussed why she chose to submit to a traditional publisher rather than going with indie publishing.
For her it comes down to wanting more time to write. Creating book covers, finding editors for development and copy editing, learning layout--it's all complicated with a large learning curve, and she decided she'd be rather be writing the next book.
The co-panelist, Becca Price, author of _Fairies and Fireflies_, pointed out that either method requires the author to do marketing. She also mentioned that contracts from the Big Five can be brutal and it can be difficult to get author's rights back. She said that trad publishing is a sprint, requiring an author to garner as many sales as possible up front, since there is a short window in which the publisher will push the book. Indie publishing is a marathon, with sales mounting over time as the author continues to publish.
As readers, we appreciate the gatekeeping publishers provide; it gives us confidence that the books will measure up to a professional standard of writing for our enjoyment. In the end, Carol decided she'd like to give that same assurance to our readers.
Later that evening, Clif was on a panel Leaving Your Comfort Zone with Skeeter Enright, Ericka Kahler and A. Carina Barry. This panel was scheduled for ten PM, against the liquid Nitrogen Icecream panel and the start of open filking.
It had one audience member, a friend of Ericka's.
It was disappointing to start out, but in the end, we kept talking for two hours and had a great time sharing stories of times we stepped out of our comfort zone. Our stories ranged from sharing poi with lepers to a first teaching job at a university.
Some things are more physically dangerous than others, but anytime you do something new, you expand your horizons.
On Saturday, Clif joined Skeeter again with Bill Higgins and Sam Lippert to discuss Terraforming the Neighbors . This panel was well attended by folks who already knew a bit about the issues in terraforming.
The discussion bounced and wandered from terraforming to colonization, with the observation that if we colonize a planet our very presence may start terraforming it. The flip side is that the grandiose terraforming ideas like dropping a hundred comets on Luna or Mars are nice ideas for an uninhabited planet, but likely to upset folks already living there.
NIMBY takes on a whole new meaning when you are talking about dropping comets at high velocity.
All of the large-scale ideas for terraforming involve such huge amounts of energy that it's very likely that we'll have technology for colonizing the planets before we have the technology to do something like steer a comet.
In the afternoon Clif and Carol had a concert set. It was good to be singing and playing again, but the concert demonstrated that we haven't been practicing much lately.
We did some of our duet material and those songs came off fairly well. We did practice those a bit before the convention.
Clif did a few songs either from his novel Promised Rewards or related to Bard's timeframe and then segued into the future with songs that were SF when he wrote them, but look like pseudo-history now.
The high-point of the concert wasn't on the bill. As he finished up, Sue McClain asked if we could sing Clif's song Dreams. He agreed, if folks in the audience would help with the other parts. It was a lovely umpty part ad-hoc chorale and sounded very good from where he sat on stage.
On Sunday Clif joined Becca Price and Sam Lippert to discuss the economics of self pubbing.
Clif observes that the Gold Rush of 1849 made a lot of people rich, but none of them were panning for gold. Levi Strauss and others who supplied the miners made all the money.
Indie publishing isn't quite that bad, but if you can't find friends to do stuff like read and critique your book, create covers, make a website and do your taxes, you'll have to pay someone to do this.
A traditional publisher takes 90% of the price of a book. However, the trad publisher also finds the artist for the cover, does the proofing, layout, marketing, etc. All the author has to worry about is the final bookkeeping, but since the author only gets 10% of the cover price, there's not much bookkeeping to be done.
The best advice is to do as much as you can before you call the professional.
If you know what you'd like to see on a cover and tell the cover artist what you want, you're more likely to get it right on the first pass. If you can rough out the cover in photoshop or gimp (or with a pencil and scan it), so much the better.
On the same note, make use of all the technology you can find before you send a manuscript to an editor. Most modern wordprocessors include spell and grammar checkers. The writer's workbench from old Unix days is still around and can help you find the passive voice and complex constructions. If you get these out of the way first, a copyeditor won't need to spend as much time on your manuscript.
The bottom line is to figure out what your bottom line is. And decide whether you're in the game for fun, in which case you should anything you think is fun or for money, in which case you've got to be able to figure out whether your time is better spent writing the next novel and hiring someone to do the non-writing work, or doing the non-writing work yourself.