Gratitude

by Christine Kling

I am writing tonight’s blog from my hotel room at the Westin in Seattle. To some people, that may not be a big deal, but for me, the bed in this room has a broader beam than my boat. Or so it seems. I certainly never stayed in a room like this when I was traveling in Thailand and the Philippines. I’ve never thought of myself as lucky, but tonight I feel like I am one of the luckiest people on the planet.  I am here as a guest of my publisher, Thomas & Mercer, and the one emotion that I am filled with is gratitude.

I guess you could say that in the 21st century with the advent (invent) of the Kindle, traditional publishing has come under siege. There is a war going on for eyeballs on screens. Authors are the ones who produce much that content that goes on the screens. It sometimes seems like the legacy publishers have forgotten that, but this is something that Amazon knows at the core of their corporate structure. I’ve been here 24 hours now and all I hear (and see) is how Amazon puts the author at the center of all business equations.

See, I am here in Seattle as an invitee to Thomas & Mercer’s “On the Lam” conference. They invited all T&M authors who will have a book released in 2013 to come out here to Seattle for 3 days totally on their dime. They bought the plane tickets, paid for the hotel rooms, planned many extraordinary cocktail parties, galas, and a photo shoot for new author photos with the amazing art photographer John Keatley. Tomorrow we are all headed to Amazon headquarters for a tour, talk and continental breakfast. Afterwards, lunch will be aboard a big tour boat followed by a cruise to Lake Union. In the evening, there’s an elegant reception at the Chihuly Museum at the base of the Space Needle. There are about 65 of us here who accepted this invite for the all-expense paid trip to Seattle (including half a dozen UK authors).

At tonight’s opening night cocktail party at the hosted bar in the lobby, all the talk among the authors was about how we, as authors, have never been treated so well by a publisher. They really want our opinions on covers, and when we say we think there should be changes, they go back to the drawing board and try again. They pay better royalties and they do so monthly. We have an online dashboard where we can see actual sales by the next day, so we always know how many books we’ve sold, and our final royalty statements are available online about fifteen days after the close of the month’s period. But you know what really wowed me? At every conference you get a goody bag and there usually are a few books in it. This time in our bags there was an actual Kindle (paperwhite) as well as a specially embossed leather cover!

All this stuff, though, wouldn’t be that big a deal if they weren’t any good at selling books. You see that is where Amazon really shines! On Monday, August 12th, Amazon made Circle of Bones one of four books that were offered as the Kindle Daily Deal. They reduced the price to $1.99. All day I watched the ranking of my book as it climbed the charts. Just before midnight when I hit the key to refresh my screen for the hundredth time, I saw my book sitting at #1. Thanks to Thomas & Mercer, the woman who announced in seventh grade that she was one day going to be an author can now say that she is a #1 bestselling author. And in case you are wondering what it takes to make it to the top of the list, that day Amazon sold 9,642 copies of Bones!

There are authors, publishers, and bookstore owners out there who like to paint Amazon and its CEO as the devil incarnate. Some bookstore owners even refuse to carry books published by any of the Amazon Publishing imprints. I think the publishing world needs to consider that in the competition to sign the best authors, with this conference, Amazon Publishing has announced Game on! All sixty-plus authors here are going to go back and talk, blog and let the world of authors know how great this publisher is. And as many of us keep saying again and again, there has never been a better time to be a writer.

On Saturday, there will be sessions all day long and they are open to the public. I won’t be speaking, but I’ll certainly be attending. If you are in the neighborhood, come on down. You will see a bunch of the happiest authors on the planet.

Fair winds!

Christine

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About Christine Kling

I have spent more than thirty years living on and around boats and cruising the waters of the North and South Pacific, the Atlantic, and the Caribbean. I’ve written articles and stories for many boating publications including Sailing, Cruising World, Motor Boating & Sailing, and The Tiller and the Pen. When I was married, I helped my husband build a 55-foot custom sailing yacht. After launching her, we sailed through the Panama Canal to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands where we chartered for over two years. While in the islands, I received my 100-ton Auxiliary Sail Captains license. It was that sailing experience that led me to set my first nautical suspense novel, SURFACE TENSION (2002), on the waterfront in Fort Lauderdale. Featuring Florida female tug and salvage captain, Seychelle Sullivan, the first book was followed by CROSS CURRENT (2004) and BITTER END (2005). The fourth book in the series, WRECKERS’ KEY was released in February 2007. At the end of the 2010-11 academic year, I took the motto of this blog to heart. I quit my day job as an English professor at Broward College in Fort Lauderdale (just when they offered me tenure, I said no thanks and took early retirement). I am living the dream of full-time cruising on board my 33-foot Caliber Talespinner on my very tiny pension and whatever I can make from my books. I’ve gone Indie, parting ways with the big publishing establishment, and I recently published two books on my own: a small collection of four short stories entitled SEA BITCH: Four Tales of Nautical Noir and my first stand-alone sailing thriller set in the Caribbean, CIRCLE OF BONES.
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12 Responses to Gratitude

  1. Once again, congratulations, Christine! You’ve earned it, and I’m so happy that signing with T&M has worked out so fantastically for you. I know for certain I’ve benefited from their innovative team, and I can only imagine what the future holds for us both. Enjoy every minute of your time out there, and give my best to Jacque and Eleni!

  2. Thanks, C.E. – I also got to meet David Downing (did you know he is 6’6″?) and he sends his regards to you. He knows we blog together. They are considering the possibility of making this an annual affair for their authors who publish in that calendar year, so I’ll bet the future holds a trip to an On the Lam for you.
    CK

  3. All I can say, Christine, is Wow. You certainly deserve this for all the work entailed in getting to the published and best-selling stage, but not everybody receives it.

  4. They didn’t quite pay for everything, Christine. They didn’t pay the $100 in parking I spent in three days commuting back and forth from Mercer Island. :) But then I’ve been nudged out of the nest.

  5. Claire – Thanks for the kind words. I know that there are thousands of very talented writers in the world who never find an audience and never get the chance to taste success. I know that every person in our field who has found any success has benefited from one, if not several lightning strikes of good luck. But I don’t think anybody just “receives” success in this publishing world. Most people who find any measure of success have worked very hard to achieve it, and it’s come from a mix of hard work and luck. No matter how many times they got knocked down, they got back up again. So when luck came, they were ready.

    But that doesn’t mean that they were set up forever. See success isn’t something that one acquires and then gets to keep. Careers go up and down like a boat bobbing in the swells at sea. I sold my first piece of writing when I was 19 years old, and I’ll be 60 on my next birthday. I’ve been writing all that time. I’ve experienced tons of rejection, joy, heartbreak, more joy, more heartbreak. The one thing I’ve learned is to grab tight and savor those fleeting tastes of success — to feel gratitude and revel in the moments I am lucky enough to be part of something special. Sooner than I’d like, I’ll certainly be sliding back down into a trough, and I know that bitterness would only be an anchor that would keep me down.

    Today, Thomas & Mercer and KDP are both providing ways for authors to make a living – and sometimes, it’s authors like me who thought our careers were over. I’m very grateful for Amazon’s innovations in the publishing world.

    CK

  6. Helen Smith says:

    It was great to meet you, Christine. What a wonderful weekend! I have just got back to London. Hope to see you here or there or anywhere before too long.

  7. It definitely sounds like you are living the dream, Christine.

    I’d heard before that Thomas and Mercer was a great publisher to be with, but I had no idea how great. After all the news on how badly publishers are treating authors in recent years, it’s refreshing to hear of one who does things right.

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  10. John Urban says:

    Christine,

    Reading about your trip to Seattle was exciting, and that was before I got to the part about your book sales – that is very exciting news. 9,642 copies in one day? Every single letter in that sentence is an exclamation point – no other emphasis is needed. I am so happy for you and I find this encouraging for authors from every corner of the world.

    All the best on continued success. Perhaps we’ll see “On The Lam” across the transom of that longer waterline you’ve been considering?

    John

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  12. Barb Reed says:

    wow! NOT BAD AT ALL EVEN AT 1.99 A COPY! you go girl

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