So this morning I went to this session, as advertised in the Victorian Writers Centre newsletter:
Saturday 25 September: Author talks and book promotion. Melbourne authors Nalini de Sielvie, Peter Whelan and Peter Frederick will discuss the publishing and promotion of books. 11.30am, St. Kilda Library. Free admission.
It was hosted by Del Nightingale of 3rpp.
It was a really weird event. Here’s why:
There was five people there. Well, actually eleven, but six of those people were working – ie presenting, or manning the video camera or the books for sale table.
So that was disappointing.
When I got there, Del and Peter Whelan were so nice and offered me coffee and asked where I was from, and talked to me. Which was great.
When it became apparent that perhaps no-one else was turning up, they started.
I got my camera out and my pad of paper and pen out, ready to go.
Remember a few years ago at Melbourne Writers Festival I went to a Justine Larbalestier event talking about her book How To Ditch Your Fairy? And the event barely touched on that topic at all?
It was like that. At first when the first speaker, Nalini de Sielvie, spoke, I frowned and thought I must have mis-read the program outline.
But apparently, looking at what I posted above, I didn’t.
When I was doing the chair for the panel at Aussie Con, it had a helpful sheet of tips for being a good chair, and one of the tips was making sure the panel stayed on topic. It said that people have turned up to see that topic discussed, so no matter how fantastic another topic may be, you can’t talk about it.
The three authors today spoke about their background, told amusing antidotes from their lives and briefly talked about their latest books.
Nothing about publishing or marketing.
Which really, really, sucked as I went all ready to learn about self-marketing.
Something else that I didn’t realise was they were all self-published authors.
I have to say, once I saw the table of books I got a bit suspicious. I mean, you can sort of tell a self-published book. Well I can anyway. It’s a different quality, a different feel to an publisher-published book.
At the end, they asked for questions, and my hand shot up (of course!). I asked: “May I ask about the process that went into making the decision to self-publish rather than more traditional means of publishing.” (Here I am optimistic that they purposely choose to self-publish for some grand reason.)
Peter Whelan answered, but before he did he sort of glared at me and then said, “Because no other publisher would publish me.”
Right, I thought. Doesn’t that tell you something?!
After it finished, Peter Whelan came up to me with a smile and said, “Welcome to your future!”
I frowned and felt vaguely offended, as if he was saying I wasn’t good enough for traditional publishing and then I would self-publish.
And that left a really bad taste in my mouth.
Let’s be clear: if I had known it was on self-publishing I wouldn’t've gone.
If that makes me a snob, so be it.
Admittedly, after they finished talking and before they took questions, Del asked each speaker for a one minute sentence about their experiences marketing.
THAT WAS IT.
I left as soon as she wrapped it up – after, obviously, Peter talking to me.
I’m feeling annoyed, rip-offed, offended and some various other feelings.
Especially as since it’s the Grand Final the train I caught back into town was a) late and b) VERY CROWDED, so crowded that I was pinned between two older gentlemen and one of them was sweating down his face and it was SO gross. And kinda weird at the train was air-conditioned and it wasn’t hot…
Anyone want to give an opinion on self-publishing?