Friday, June 8, 2018

The More Things Change...

Posted by: PG Forte

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end.”

(Semisonic, Closing Time)

It’s been a weird few years in publishing. Although maybe that’s always been the case and I just haven’t been paying close enough attention until recently. I attended a talk (at last month’s Romantic Times Booklovers Convention—more about THAT in a moment) titled “How to Have a Twenty Year Career” in which the authors reminisced at length about all the many changes they’d witnessed over the course of the LAST twenty years. 

And, yes, in case you were wondering, there were A LOT of changes.

I don’t know that I got what I was hoping for in terms of a way to plan for the future because my main take away from the event was “the more things change…the more they change.” Yeah, IMO the French got it totally wrong with the original saying. 

As I may have mentioned in a blog post or two, there have been a lot of distractions in my life recently. As a result, I feel like I’ve missed out on a lot of trends and mini-dramas, so one of my main reasons for attending the convention this year was to learn what’s new and what's hot, and to get a feel for what’s going on.

What’s going on, apparently, is a lot of changes! Seriously, that should have been this year’s theme. It was kind of ridiculous.

For example, at the welcome breakfast the first morning in we learned that this was to be the last RT convention. Great way to start off the week--NOT! Both the magazine and the convention are going away. Lori Perkins announced that she was going to be starting a site called Romance Daily News to (in her words) continue Kathryn Falk’s legacy. And Jo Carol, who’s been running RT’s conventions for years, is branching off with her own (multi-genre) Booklovers Convention, which is set to debut next year in New Orleans.

Btw, I’m noticing a trend away from big conventions like RT and toward smaller, invitation-only gatherings. Something I figure is guaranteed to not gladden the hearts of authors unlikely to score an invitation. Just sayin'

As always, there were mixed signals. Mark Coker, founder and CEO of Smashwords, continued to insist that longer books and bonus content are big sellers. Meanwhile Radish, an app that specializes in what they refer to as “bite-sized serial fiction stories”, was the new hot thing. And, just this past week, Amazon changed its TOS to try and cut down on (or eliminate) most bonus content.

In general, however, publishers seem to be looking for RomComs and HEAs, and most seem tired of dark romance, psychological thrillers, and books featuring motorcycle clubs. I guess when real life is grim, people want to escape to a happier place. That certainly seems like a good plan to me.

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