I'm attending Printers' Row this weekend under the auspices of Mystery Writers of America's Midwest Chapter. Despite ninety-plus degree weather, slow sales, and a nasty thunderstorm to end the day on Saturday, it's been a good experience, and here's why: authors need to talk to other authors.
We often write in a vacuum, alone in our offices, and these days, much of our promotion is on-line as well. Even many of our shoes-wearing public appearances are with booksellers, librarians, and readers. Now, these are all wonderful people, but I'll tell you a secret. I love to talk to others who struggle with plot and protagonist, method and motive. Other writers.
So while thousands of people wandered by yesterday and looked casually at our offerings, we talked. We learned, or more likely relearned, that we are alike, no matter what our subgenre or who our publisher is. We commiserated on the irritations of publishing and exchanged information on tactics that might sell more books.
It could be depressing: the sheer number of people trying to get noticed in this industry, the lack of understanding of the reading public between a book that's been through a process and a book some clueless innocent throws at the Internet without any process at all. But when a group of (dare I say REAL?) writers get together, it's not depressing. It's a celebration of what we do, what we cannot stop doing.
I drove from northern Michigan to Chicago for this, temporarily exchanging my peaceful home life for traffic and crowds to meet with Julie Hyzy, Tony Perona, Barb D'Amato, and a dozen other writers I've seen only on the Net or in passing at conferences. If I don't sell one book, it will be a success for me to know that they all write books one page at a time, just like I do.