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Sacramento's Western writers are riding into town for their annual convention

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Sacramento's 51st annual Western Writers of America convention will ride into town June 24, 2014 and run until June 28, 2014. the convention is open to the public. It's being held in the Doubletree Hotel, 2001 Point West Way. Sacramento, which is across the street from the Arden Fair shopping mall. You may wish to check out the June 17, 2014 Sacramento Bee article by Allen Pierleoni, "Between the Lines: Western Writers of America ride into Sacramento," which includes more details of the event.

The convention features 70 writers of Western fiction speaking in various panel discussions, special events, and presentations. If you read novels of the old West, you may be interested in hearing the speakers such as Anne Hillerman (“The Spider Woman’s Daughter”), whose late father, Tony Hillerman, wrote the Navajo Tribal Police mystery series; Kirk Ellis, co-writer of the miniseries “Into the West” and Emmy-winning screenwriter for “John Adams”; Johnny Boggs (“Poison Spring”), author of 63 Westerns; and Chris Enns of Grass Valley, a screenwriter and author of 28 nonfiction Westerns (“Love Lessons From the Old West,”). You also can check out Chris Enns' website for more information on the author's books.

You may also wish to experience the Spur Awards ceremony, hosted by Clu Gulager (“The Tall Man”) and Jim Beaver (“Deadwood”). The Spur is the Pulitzer Prize of the Western genre. Tickets to the Spur Awards Banquet are $50 each.

Those who are Western history buffs, would enjoy the history presentations that include the Pony Express, the California Trail, the Modoc War and Gold Rush entertainers. There are going to be sessions for aspiring writers, including various how-to sessions that help you understand how to write biography, fiction, screenplays, do book marketing, and find research sources. The keynote address will be “Chinese Inclusion in Telling Western Stories” by Liping Zhu.

The book signings

On June 25 is a book signing at the East Meets West Hoedown, which also has a mixer with appetizers and wine from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Pagoda Building, 429 J St., ($50). Another booksigning, this one in the daytime, will be at 2 p.m. June 28 at Barnes & Noble, 6111 Sunrise Blvd., Citrus Heights. You can call the bookstore for more information on the book signings.

If you want to attend individual panels instead of the entire event, the individual panels are priced separately, starting at $30. Attendees can pay at the Doubletree registration desk. For details, registration and more information check out the website of the Western Writers. The phone number and email address for information also is listed on the Sacramento Bee article, which also lists other writer's events in June, including poetry reading events.

Why do genre fiction writers become digital storytellers?

The new storytellers are reacting to merger and consolidation in the fiction publishing industry. The requirement level, the limbo bar, the stakes all have been raised. To survive and make any money, an author now has to sell at least 50,000 copies of a genre fiction book.

If you sell less than that, you will be shaken out. In the past, it was acceptable to sell 10,000 copies of a genre novel and still survive. Not so today. The trend has moved. You will not break even with 10,000 copies sold of a genre novel. You'll need to sell 50,000 copies to break even, and even that is not good enough to keep you from being shaken out in the same way that CD-ROM producers get shaken out. Simply, you need to sell a lot more copies of your fiction to survive.

Sometimes, if your sales fall below 50,000 as a print novelist in a genre category, you're history in the eyes of the merging and consolidating publishing houses

As more writers of genre fiction are pushed out of their profession, they have two places to go. One of them is to digital storytelling. The other is to Internet broadcasting and scriptwriting. The Hollywood scriptwriting variety looks down on the older writer.

That leaves again one trend, one market, two choices: cyberaudio and desktop video.....the new media--audio and video streaming. The new media includes audio publishing. Streaming is the new trend for genre writers, the new marketplace, writing and/or producing streaming for the Internet's personal broadcasting networks.

What has pushed some fiction writers into streaming for the Internet is the consolidation of wholesale distributors of paperback novels in genres such as romance, science fiction, thrillers, mystery, western, gothics, and adventure-action books

Old time radio passes through trends where it look as if it might come back, at least on the Internet, but until the giant entertainment investors move it, personal broadcasting networks pay writers little for fiction and a lot for ad copywriting on Web sites. The exception is for top-selling celebrity novelists whose work gets featured time and time again on TV as well as on the Web. Big names attract ad sponsors.

The trend is that in print publishing, the midlist writer often gets tossed out, and falls squarely into the new media. It's not only the midlist genre writers that are being shaken out faster than last decade's computer competition. It's the publishing houses that also are going away with them.

What is surviving this new trend are mainstream and fantasy novels

Promotion is saving mainstream fiction. Look at the art on the book covers. It's of much higher quality than you saw ten years ago on mainstream novel covers.

More of the cover artists work with computer graphics and are familiar with the Web and its design, and that is being transferred to higher quality book cover art. Increasingly, genre novels are being passed off as mainstream in order to squeeze through the screening process and make it to the best-selling list.

The new trend is to "cross category" to improve sales

General fiction sells more now than category books, and that's a new trend that started in the last two years. Genre books in the past decade only had to be "good," but today they have to be spectacular to sell enough copies to keep the writing from being vibrated out of the profession and into electronic publishing.

The few publishing house left standing after the shakeout that emulates the computer industry shakeout of the late eighties are targeting nonfiction. Selling a first novel has a better chance of happening today in the new media--the electronic world of cyberfiction, streaming audio, and streaming video.

Consolidation of publishing houses

Due to the consolidation of publishing houses, writers had to have sold more copies of the books, mainly due to more promotion, marketing, and publicity on their books. It's not the better books that sell, but those marketed more intensively.

That means only those books selected for promotion have any chance of meeting the 50,000-copy midlist requirement. Sell anything less, and you're apt to be discarded from the fiction writing profession. This has little to do with the quality of your book and all to do with the consolidation of the publishing house.

Celebrities and those chosen by the publishing house to become celebrities

You're best solution is to predict trends before they happen and publish books about them--in the new media first, and then following in the print media. If you're book isn't on the tip of the tongues of publishers and those who review books for magazines that move the industry, you're new trend isn't sticking because it was predicted too early before it happened.

You may need to predict within a time horizon and publish. The Web is the quickest way to publicize your new trend prediction. Back it up with facts from the public interest, from projects in the works, from emerging technologies, and medical or scientific sources.

Go to the highest level person as your source at think tanks and corporations. Who's investing in what? What is the entertainment industry investing in--computers? Or is the computer industry investing in entertainment? Who has more money? What else is consolidating? Where is convergence leading?

In digital storytelling, you are forecasting new trends and working with the predictable-by-facts near future. If you want to write about effects, talk to the causes

Fiction writers need to tap new media subjects such as debt, urgency, and impact. New trends are bound by time, but new media writing needs to be timeless and universal to sell on the Web. Digital storytelling will always have an audience because it is only about personal interests that have endured since pre-history.

Digital storytelling sells when it's about mobility, upward or downward, and feeding the mind. New storytellers write about trends. Feelers write about social trends, and thinkers write about trends that control nature, data, or technology.

Extrotrends and Intratrends

Mainstream novels and scripts headed for success in digital storytelling are about extrotrends--what happens in society and what happens in technology. Bring the two together to form a whole new third genre, and you have Wall street surfing your site for intuitive leaps of logistics.

Extrotrends solve problems through fiction by offering solutions based on ideas that occurred by bringing two different objects together, rotating them, turning them inside out, and coming up with a new solution or object used for a solution.

Intratrends come back to society in relation to the Internet, and Intertrends spill from technology into society. Extrotrends are outside influences on both technology and people that stem from combining two different things and ending up with a whole new third thing after manipulating it to solve a problem.

Future trends are a result of current occurrences. Fictionalize facts about investigations. Pick a topic to investigate. Use your investigative journalism skills to write fiction for the Web.

When journalists move into digital storytelling and switch from fiction to nonfiction, they are looked upon by the print publishing industry as beginners, even though they may have spent decades writing published nonfiction books

If you're a journalist following the new trend of switching into digital storytelling and want to write fiction for the Web, few Web site publishers will dwell on the fact that you are switching from nonfiction to fiction to add more writing opportunities to your repertoire. You'll be welcomed a lot faster to the Web than you ever would by print publishing houses.

For some, it may be easier after a lifetime of nonfiction book writing, to move into writing fiction for disc or website, with no questions asked of the webmasters about how many previous fiction books a writer has published or how high did any given writer's sales have to jump to get on their society list. Instead, some writers found welcome mats out, and satisfaction that a published book author would decorate their site with fiction that would attract customers. Same goes for streaming audio and video. You have to get in at the right moment--in the beginning. You also may wish to check out the slideshow on Examiner.com of 50 of Anne Hart's 87 paperback book covers.

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