Do either the Kindle or Sony have speech capability? And, if so, is there a way to vary the rate? After “listening” for over twenty years to do my reading, I listen at a rate that others consider “gibberish”. I read Chip’s article, very informative. Let me know about speech with these devices.
Randy sez: The Kindle does. I don’t know about the Sony. The Kindle has a quite nice text-to-speech feature that will allow you to have it read aloud any e-book you own. The speech quality isn’t as good as a human actor, but it’s good enough that the Author’s Guild got after Amazon for it, because this seems like it’s encroaching on the rights of an author to sell (or not sell) the audio rights to a book. Amazon has backed down. Now the feature is available only for those e-books that the author allows it.
The Kindle also plays audiobooks directly, just like an MP3 player. (There’s a jack for a headset in the top of the Kindle.) It comes with 1.5 GB of memory, which is not huge, but it’ll hold a fair number of sound files.
Karen wrote regarding my last blog post about opportunities for brand new writers:
Since I’m going to be in your mentoring group at Mt. Hermon, this is good news for me! But the idea about it being a good time for new writers to break in seems odd. Wouldn’t publishers be hesitant to risk investments on new, untested writers and rather spend their money on writers that already have an established following?
Randy sez: Even if a writer has an established following, there is no guarantee that his or her next book will earn out its advance. I read an article on the web just today that asserted that 90% of all books fail to earn out their advances. This does not mean that 90% of all books lose money. I am told that a book can break even or make a profit, even when it falls far short of earning its advance.
But even in good times, most publishers invest in new writers. I’m not a publisher, but I can guess at the reasons:
1) Since new writers are new, they don’t have be lured away from some other publisher (which costs money).
2) Since new writers are new, they don’t generally get a big advance, which means the book costs less to produce.
3) All best-selling novelists were at one time unpublished, and every publisher would like to find the author of The Next Big Thing (and lock that novelist into a multi-book deal at a bargain price).
To be sure, not all books by first-time authors sell very well, but neither do most books by multi-published authors. I know far too many veteran authors who aren’t selling nearly as well as they deserve.
I have no crystal ball to see the future. Neither do I have any publishers telling me their secret plans. All I have are twenty years of watching the industry through thick times and thin times. And the one constant over those twenty years is that unpublished writers ALWAYS believe this is a terrible, crappy year to get published, whereas every year, a surprising number of them sell their first novel.
Generally, the ones who break in are the ones who were putting their butt in the chair and writing every day for years and years and years AND then taking the action required to sell their books. (Getting critiqued, learning from other writers, going to conferences, pitching their book to editors and agents, and NOT QUITTING when things looked tough.)
Because let’s face it: Things almost always look tough. I have seen a few fat years when it seemed like any idiot could get published. But most of the years I’ve been watching this crazy publishing game, it’s looked like a hard, hard year to get published.
This is a sermon I’ve preached many times: Nothing happens unless you take action.
The corollary to that is that when you take action, something good might happen.
Unfortunately I don’t have a completed manuscript for pitching this year, but the potentially reduced crowd should be beneficial, especially in the workshop.
Question: Even though my WIP is unfinished, would it be a good idea to make appointments with editors to discuss the project/gauge their interest in the one-sentence summary?
Andra M. says
I always figured we should follow our passion regardless of what the economy is doing. We shouldn’t worry about the future, nor ever give up on our dreams.
That said, to Ben, I would make appointments with editors, so you can get comfortable with speaking with them. They can give you advice on what steps to take when you’re manuscript is ready.
You also might have such a fantabulous idea, they’d be willing to see your manuscript once it’s finished (and polished to a blinding sheen).
Lynn Rush says
I like the idea of a new writer breaking in easier now because we’re cheaper….but still, I hear it’s very difficult. But hey, if it was easy, everyone would do it, right?
I wish I could do Mt. Hermon. I’m saving to do ACFW in September…so maybe Mt. Hermon next year?
Thanks for the post, it’s most helpful.
A J Hawke says
Thanks for the post on the Kindle and on Writer’s Conferences.
I’m waiting for the price to come down on the Kindle. I would rather put that money toward my next Writer’s Conference.
In February, I attended my first Writer’s Conference. I went with concern but without worry or fear. I probably should have gone with fear, but I have a realistic view of where I am as a writer, what publishers are looking for, and what it takes to get published. In addition, I have read everything that Randy has put forth on how to be successful at a conference. It truly helped.
What I found was many people in attendance who had not done their homework (pitching picture books to editors who had stated in their bios that they only looked at adult fiction for example.) Attendees who had nothing definite to discuss with an editor, just wanted to be a writer. That amazed me for they had paid a lot of money to attend.
I also found that I was more prepared than I thought on leaving home. I went with four novels completed. I think it was you, Randy, who wrote somewhere to write a million words before considering oneself a writer. I have about 600,000 under my belt. I had pitches ready for two of the novels. I spoke with four editors and two agents. I had two editors request that I send a proposal (by email, synopsis, first three chapters.) One agent said they were definitely interested as soon as I had a contract from a publisher. Am I seeing a catch-22 for unpublished writers here?
What I returned home with was renewed energy to write, more self-confidence, and a greater understanding of how to prepare to get published. I now understand the place of the Writer’s Conference in the universe of Publishing. I can’t make Mt Hermon, but does anyone know anything about the Colorado Christian Writer’s Conference in May? I might be able to make that one.
I intend to keep following Randy’s blog because I am finding the information put forth here as useful as any college course, maybe more so. And maybe one day I will be able to be in a class at a Conference with you all.
Robert Treskillard says
Thanks for your thoughts, Randy.
I’ve got a proposal out right now, and I think it depends far more on my own writing than the economy.
And all your help writing the synopsis and summarizing the book is a real help, too, because a writing sample can only tell part of the story.
Thanks for the encouragement!
Last year the odds of a newbie selling a book were what, a million to one? This year, they’re two million to one. In practical terms, that’s about the same thing! So I’ll keep doing my thing. This might be the year. I’ll never know if I don’t follow through.
I’ve never seen a Kindle. Hope you bring yours to the conference.
Pam Halter says
Randy said: Nothing happens unless you take action.
How true!! We must never give up.
Camille Cannon Eide says
Ben: If you’re going to a conference, TALK TO THE MAN. Or woman. Do like Randy sez and take action. Take advantage of a window of opportunity you get to meet editors face to face at a conference. You may find they are interested in seeing it when it’s finished (I speak from experience!) or maybe you’ll build some repoire with an editor and he/she may want a future book of yours. You PAID for the chance to meet editors…take it!!
Thanks, Camille. I will check the list to see which editors correspond to my work and try to set appointments with them. I’ll just plant the seed and let God do what He wants with it.
Tonya Root says
A friend of mine brought to my attention the other day a website called Authonomy. This website, created by HarperCollins which is basically set up with the premise that every day readers will critique and recommend books that newbies post on the site and the books will then be brought to the attention of HarperCollins editors. It is supposed to be a way to sort of skip the slush pile and be helpful to new authors and editors. I don’t have enough of my WIP complete to post, but I’m working on it to try and get it up as soon as possible. Sounds like a good way to get noticed right now. Thoughts, Randy and other readers?
Pam Halter says
I checked it out with Writer Beware (Victoria Strauss commented on it). She’s not totally sure it’s a good thing.
Tonya Root says
Thanks Pam! I’ve never been to that blog before, but it looks interesting. That blog along with the associated comments, many of them from former and current users of Authonomy, gave me some interesting food for thought on how the site works. Thanks!