Sunday, February 23, 2014

Bob Mayer

Book ‘Em North Carolina Writers Conference and Book Fair

A day in Lumberton attending the Book ‘Em Conference was a day well spent. Bob Mayer, the keynote speaker, gave one of the best presentations I’ve seen in quite a while. Authors and panels discussed genres such as historical fiction, romantic suspense, mystery, and fantasy as well as craft such as characterization and plotting. Of the numerous sessions (about three per hour from 10:00 AM until 4:30 PM), I attended the ones given in the auditorium.

The future of publishing, said Bob Mayer, will be kiosk printing, i.e. you will stop at a computerized kiosk, enter the name of the book you want (or scan the selection), push a button, and the book will be produced in a matter of minutes. He didn’t clarify whether the end product will be a hard copy or a computer file, but my guess is that either will be available. This is no science fiction fantasy. It's on the horizon. Already Columbia has lost its most strategically located Barnes and Noble, which was preceded by Books A-Million pulling out on the other side of busy Harbison Boulevard.

If we’re going to have book kiosks, I hope we’ll also have DVD kiosks for movies. Some of us still prefer to have a home library of favorites in spite of the choices on Netflix and other providers … What! you may say, but there are hundreds if not thousands of choices. Yes, but how many are independent and foreign movies? 

Back to Bob. His comments about writing can be taken as hints for successful living. For instance, he encouraged us to: have a goal; conquer fear; and persevere. When he said there is no muse, just hard work, I’m not sure I agree. Not about hard work but about the muse. I don’t doubt that hard work produces the books we read, but the ones that strike at our hearts are written by inspired writers.

Although he provided other good information, I’ll only mention that he confirmed what others have said: you need at least three published books before you can get a toe-hold for marketing success.

Adam Cushman of Red 14 Films talked about book trailers and provided examples. I can only say that if an author can afford $10,000 to buy a trailer, he probably doesn’t need the promotion. Adam is an appealing young man, but the trailer for his book was disturbingly violent.

Author Haywood Smith gave a charming and humorous talk about writing, her divorce, quirky relatives, and publishers (who can “squeeze the voice out” of writers).

Every state should have a television show like The Tarheel Traveler. Scott Mason, who puts it together, entertained us with excerpts that highlighted people and places in the state. There is so much media focus on national personalities and places that a void is growing on the local scene. It’s refreshing to know we still have reporters stalking the local backwoods for stories. 

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