Saturday, June 16, 2007

Chicago Writer Assn. Interview

Authors interested in self-publishing will enjoy these comments regarding the ASJA conference in New York. These notes are excerpted from a interview, conducted by Walt McElligott, editor.

We're lucky to have many good writing organizations in Chicago, and Diana was a brave adventurer when she launched Chicago Writer's Assn. I believe we all have an obligation to support the groups who support writers, especially in our own community.

I attend out-of-town conferences too, especially ASJA (American Association of Journalists & Authors), in New York. The April conference has about 50 panels, for ASJA members, Friday through Sunday, and open to non-members just on Saturday and Sunday. I think the attendance runs about 700 people. Topics range from freelance journalism to finding an agent, specializing in particular niches,and so much more.

This year I was surprised to see three things at the conference:

1. Technology played a bigger role: They usually have one speaker discuss the web each year, but this year there were sessions on Blogs, Making six-figures online, Online travel writing, and Writing for tech markets. That's four new topics spawned by the blurred lines between writing and technology, and an interesting trend. Some of these sessions were standing room only.

2. Many speakers discussed the move from print to, not just online journalism, but multimedia. Even a New York Times columnist spoke of the recent changes in her work. She used to write a 1,000 word column. Now her editors want 600 words, plus make her read the column aloud for a podcast, and create a multimedia story, combining voice, text, and photos. All for the same pay. Almost every editor said they want shorter work that leads the reader somewhere else - another link, another story.

3. The third change was the reason I went to the conference this year: A growing movement toward self-publishing. ASJA has partnered with iUniverse, one of the top print-on-demand firms,to offer members a better publishing package. And during two half-day sessions on self-publishing. I saw the audience doing the math -- as our own Nolan Lewis has mentioned on the CWA forum -- there is something wrong with the traditional publishing model, when the author keeps less than one percent of the revenue from their book.

Self-publishing and print-on-demand offer writers both the ability to get their book published, and to make more money per book. In fact, I've gotten Nolan's permission to quote him in my upcoming book on self-publishing.

Full interview available here

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