Archive for category Publishing
Thrillerfest is a phenomenal conference packed full of experts and even heroes. It’s also a unique conference in that it takes place in NYC, right in the heart of traditional publishing. One of my major goals for WANA has been to serve writers—ALL writers. Publishing has been a One Size Fits All model for generations, and a lot of great writing has been collateral damage.
In fact, the paper-driven paradigm had driven many forms of writing to the brink of extinction—short stories, novellas, poetry, serials, pulp fiction, epic fiction, etc—simply because these types of works were a bad investment for a business that must turn a profit in order to survive and keep investing in new authors.
WANA LOVES ALL WRITERS
WANA has always made it a point to never make authors feel they needed to choose sides. Traditional is a better fit for some authors and indie isn’t for everyone. Self-publishing is far from a panacea. Each one has strengths and weaknesses and I explore that in Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World.
The key to building the perfect platform for your career is to make an honest assessment of which publishing path fits your personality, your work and your needs. WANA is not a Social Media Snuggie.
I’m a huge fan of the new paradigm, namely because we are seeing an explosion of creativity. New genres are being birthed and old forms are being resurrected. I’ve spent many, many blogs imploring NY to realize that self-publishing and indie publishing do not have to be enemies. Yet, last year I was excruciatingly frustrated when I returned from Thrillerfest.
Some people felt I was being mean in that post, but when you love something you sometimes need to be tough. Last year, when few seemed to be acknowledging the pink elephant (Amazon) in the room and some comments about self-publishing were utterly inappropriate, I was annoyed at the lack of foresight.
And, when I kept hearing mantras like, “E-books are a fad” “People love bookstores” and “Readers will always want paper”?
I wanted to scream.
Borders was already dead and gone and Barnes & Noble had been experiencing major losses. If things didn’t change? Authors would be hurt the most because (at the time), I believed leadership wasn’t looking ahead. They were too busy protecting what had always been.
I felt like Jerry MacGuire:
Help me, help you!
“If You’re Not at the Table, It Means You’re on the Menu”
I read the above quote out of John C. Maxwell’s latest book The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth. It really spoke to me and helped me realize the root of my frustration with traditional publishers over the past few years. They’ve consistently refused to sit at the table of the new paradigm and that meant they were on the menu (placing its authors on the menu as well).
The Publishing Apocalypse
A federal judge recently ruled that Apple illegally conspired with five of the six biggest publishers to inflate prices in the emerging e-book market. Apple will be disciplined and the big publishers are certain to take a hit as well, though actual damages have yet to be ruled.
While the big publishers remain insistent they’ve done nothing wrong, it seems unlikely they will take on the Department of Justice a second time. This means Amazon is poised and ready to absorb even more of the book market.
William Lynch, CEO of Barnes&Noble resigned early this month after devastating earning reports made it clear that Barnes & Noble was losing the battle to Amazon. Their Nook had failed to keep pace with other devices like the Kindle Fire and the iPad, despite B&N’s partnering with Microsoft.
According to the New York Times article by David Streitfeld, E-Book Ruling Gives Amazon and Advantage, “The verdict in the Apple case might have been a foregone conclusion, telegraphed by the judge herself, but it emphatically underlined how the traditional players in the book business have been upended. Only Amazon, led by Mr. Bezos, seems to have a plan. He is executing it with a skill that infuriates his competitors and rewards his stockholders.”
Barnes & Noble, upon Lynch’s departure, appointed Michael P. Huseby former CFO to CEO. Additionally, according to another recent article by Julie Bosman in the New York Times Chief Leaves Barnes & Noble After Losses on E-Readers, “Max J. Roberts, the chief executive of the college division, will report to Mr. Huseby, while Mr. Huseby and Mitchell S. Klipper, the chief executive for the retail stores, will report to Leonard Riggio, the company’s chairman.”
These decisions hint that this is a likely a step toward “separating the digital and retail divisions, as the company has indicated it might do. Barnes & Noble has been in talks over a potential sale of its digital assets, as well as its 675 bookstores.”
What Does This Mean?
All of this points to an ominous sign that the bookstores likely will be broken up, which is why I’ve been adamant that writers (and traditional publishers) stop relying so much on the brick-and-mortar-model, since it was clear from history (Tower Records & Kodak) that these retailers would likely experience record contraction or go away altogether.
(I doubt bookstores will disappear completely just reinvent as I mentioned in this post last year The WANA Plan to Save Bookstores & Revive Publishing).
This has been another reason I have been passionate in my crusade to educate writers how to create an author brand on-line using blogging and social media. If the bookstores go away or shrink to the point of inconsequence, our only lifeline for success is the Internet.
Historically, bookstores have been the main hub where readers discover authors. That has completely changed. If we fail to appreciate this, we plan to fail.
After All of This, Why Was Thrillerfest So Encouraging? Welcome to the “Lifting of the Veil”
Rather than bringing in a big publisher to talk about favorite books and ignore the consumer landscape, ITW (International Thriller Writers) recruited Russ Grandinetti, Vice President of Kindle Content and Kindle Direct Publishing to speak. They also invited Createspace to be an active part of the conference and allowed ME to teach blogging at Craftfest, which shows they are looking to the future (or that they need better security :D).
Grandinetti’s speech left me in tears.
Grandinetti spoke about how it is a brilliant time to be a writer and how traditional and non-traditional don’t have to be adversaries (Sound familiar?). By using the new tools available, authors (even traditional authors) can keep fires burning with fans in between books and help big publishers reinvent and become more profitable.
Authors are now free to write serials, shorts, prequels and maybe even try new genres. Authors can stretch as artists after being in a severely restrictive business model for so many generations. We now are seeing the emergence of the hybrid-author, just as indie giants like NYTBSA Bob Mayer predicted years ago.
(And a major reason WANA never chose sides. I always believed one day they might work together).
I nearly passed out when mega-author-legend David Morrell asked for help understanding how to improve his metadata and when Anne Rice spoke about her love for Facebook. The energy this year was completely different. Rather than attending a wake, it was like attending a baby shower. The excitement for the future was palpable and it was a joy and it was an honor to witness this.
*and the choir sings*
Yes, an apocalypse can mean destruction—destruction of outdated operations, old thinking, ineffective models—but like a forest fire, an apocalypse also opens room for something new and vibrant and even stronger to emerge.
The fact that the biggest authors in the business were now looking at new ways of doing things? *happy dance* Finally, everyone agrees that stories and information, authors and readers are more important than keeping the status quo. YAY!
We are in scary but wonderful times and no matter which path you choose to take, please know two things:
1. ALL authors need an on-line platform.
2. It is the best time in HUMAN HISTORY to be a writer.
I knew NY had it in them. And, though the judgement against Apple and the major publishers does have a dark side (namely that competition keeps markets healthy), we can at least rejoice in this awakening and hope this leads to improved business creativity. Hey, NYC can learn a lot from writers :D.
What are your thoughts? Do you feel encouraged? Overwhelmed?
I LOVE hearing from you!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of July, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
NOTE: My prior two books are no longer for sale, but I am updating them and will re-release. My new book, Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World is NOW AVAILABLE.
Also, Remember there is a class on Antagonists THIS Friday (recorded if you can’t make it). Use WANA15 for 15% off.
Hey Guys! I know it’s a wild and crazy world. Indie and self-publishing are exploding while traditional publishing is struggling to reinvent itself in the Digital Age. Yet, here’s the thing. Even if you go it alone, it is still a good idea to have an agent. There are contracts and film rights and foreign rights and pillow fights and…
Okay, I’m going to just shut up about this, because I am NOT an agent.
All right, I AM a secret spy agent in my own mind, but that’s totally different.
One of the reasons I LOVE Laurie McLean (my guest today) is that she’s seriously fun. But, aside from that, she’s been one of the most forward-thinking literary agents I’ve been blessed enough to meet.
Years ago, when MySpace still roamed the Earth, Laurie attended the very first Twitter class I’d ever taught. When other agents wouldn’t have been caught dead learning how to tweet (“because Facebook was just a fad”), Laurie attended and TOOK NOTES. She’s kind, brilliant, and VERY visionary and trust me when I tell you we are all very blessed to have her at WANA International.
So take it away Laurie!
If I had a live camera feed into every home around the world (which is a very creepy idea, but stay with me for a minute), each January I would be able to see a huge percentage of writers penning the resolution:
“This is the year I get a literary agent!”
It’s a great goal. Agents can be very helpful in not only getting you a publishing deal, but educating you on the business of publishing, helping you create and promote your author brand, making you a better writer, and basically having your back in the coldhearted world where you’ve decided to build your career.
Some agent relationships last longer than a marriage, so it’s important to know what you’re getting into when you accept an agent’s offer of representation. What you really need are some inside answers (along with working on your craft until you are proficient enough to succeed in being published) to speed you on your way.
I’ve been a literary agent for eight years now and I’ve amassed a huge arsenal of information that I am happy to share with writers. I’ve put them all into a presentation called AGENT SECRETS.
It explains what an agent does, how to find one, the best way to score representation by an agent, how to have a great client-agent relationship, what to watch out for, etc. I’m giving a super-cheap webinar where I reveal these secrets to anyone who has $25 and 90 minutes to spend with me. It’s a great way to start the year off right.
Here’s an example of some agent secrets:
What does an agent do? At the most basic level, a literary agent is an author’s business partner. An agent locates a publisher interested in buying an author’s writing and then negotiates a deal. But a literary agent is so much more than that. An agent is:
* A scout who constantly researches what publishers are looking for
* An advocate for an author and his or her work
* A midwife who assists with the birth of a writing project
* A reminder who keeps the author on track if things begin to slip
* An editor for that last push before submission
* A critic who will tell authors what they need to hear in order to improve
* A matchmaker who knows the exact editors for an author’s type of writing
* A negotiator who will fight to get the best deal for an author
* A mediator who can step in between author and publisher to fix problems
* A reality check if an author gets out of sync with the real world
* A liaison between the publishing community and the author
* A cheerleader for an author’s work or style
* A focal point for subsidiary, foreign and dramatic rights
* A mentor who will assist in developing an author’s career
* A rainmaker who can get additional writing work for an author
* A career coach for all aspects of your writing future
* An educator about changes in the publishing industry
* A manager of the business side of your writing life
I bet you didn’t know an agent did all those things, did you? You only wanted one to get a book deal, right? Well, agents do all this and more. With the publishing industry changing as much as it’s done in the past four years, I think you need a savvy agent more than ever as a guide through the literary jungle.
So I hope you’ll join me for an evening of fun and enlightenment…an evening of secrets. To register, go to WANA International and sign up NOW…
…or Kristen gets the hose :).
I love hearing from you guys, so leave a comment, but better? TAKE THE CLASS. Best? Leave a comment AND taker her class.
Yes, I get lonely and you guys are my only tether to the outside world.