Friday I gave a lecture on writing and publishing to a group of teachers at Texas State University in San Marcos. I took my sister Roxanne with me in case I froze. Or got caught up in an everlasting loop trying to pronounce something hard like rodomontade. This was my first paid lecture.
I want to thank the Education Department of Texas State University for including us in their summer program. I think our audience learned a little bit. And since it was my first experience in a college classroom as the instructor rather than the student, I also learned a little bit.
We had fun (except for walking the long block up the hill from the parking garage to the Education Building in the heat of near lunchtime). Roxanne did fine. I thought I was going to die. Note to self: Lose Weight! We were carrying deviled eggs from the Cottonseed Cafe as our contribution to lunch, and nineteen of my books we’d decided to give away instead of trying to sell to them. Books are damned heavy.
We got there early and were welcomed into the ongoing publishing class the group was listening to for their last thirty minutes. What I was getting ready to tell them about publishing was in direct opposition to what they were learning right then, so that was really interesting. We came at the right time. Not to “save the day,” but to give them the current (and in my opinion, the future) alternative. The group was young (I expected thirty-year-olds and most were in their twenties), and all women.
First we introduced ourselves. Then we gave away our books. And if you don’t already know, there’s a huge difference between getting something free and paying $13.95 plus tax! Not a single book left. It was worth it. This way we got readers, maybe got the possibility of some library inclusion, and didn’t have to make change. Then we had lunch.
Afterwards, I talked about why I write. About how I write (on a personal computer and sometimes with pen and paper). I love that joke. And I gave them my three favorite tips to help their students write, which I have used myself to great benefit.
Then we got into publishing.
What I know about legacy publishing and agents is almost all through second-hand accounts. Which I told them. I haven’t submitted anything to a magazine or publisher since about 2009. But I passed on what I read from The Passive Voice and Kris Writes, and J.A. Konrath, and then told them about our modest success at self-publishing through Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords, and our paperbacks through CreateSpace.
The comments we got later ranged from thanking us for sharing the several ways I use to get and keep myself writing (the one-hundred-word-a-day challenge, always finishing what you start, and the dictionary random word kickstart program),
to their being encouraged to proceed to self-publish after hearing about our experiences,
to the startling news that this was the first some of them had heard of e-publishing.
And then this was my favorite, that our brutal honesty about our success in publishing these past six years had been eye-opening and appreciated.
We’d told them our actual sales figures (both money and numbers of books), and how hard it was to get noticed electronically, while also telling them that we do get noticed, we do sell books, and we do make money. We just don’t make enough money to live on. What I’ll share here is the jaw-dropping statistic that we’ve given away about 20,000 free copies of our e-books.
What I forgot to add was some of the websites or blogs that would help them. Here they are:
WHAT I READ THIS WEEK: Persuasion by Jane Austen. Thin Walls by Kris Nelscott. Superbia Collection by Bernard Schaffer. Stone Cribs by Kris Nelscott. Allan Quartermain by H. Rider Haggard. War at Home by Kris Nelscott. (Actually, this has been two or three week’s worth of reading). Vengeance Is Mine by Mickey Spillane. Days of Rage by Kris Nelscott.
You can find my books at
Photos by Roxanne Rix and Gretchen Rix.