A Manifesto of Sorts
How can that be true, when there’s more opportunity than ever before? Gatekeepers are no longer required, and we’ve seen proof that independent authors can achieve great success, even by industry standards.
A publisher is no guarantor of success, either. Why is it that only a small percentage of writers can make a living as a full-time author? The rigorous development and validation process that a publisher offers is not enough.
The Shift to Digital changed all the rules, and for better or worse, opened the floodgates. We now have a ton of a new talent producing a ton of new offerings, contributing to a ton of noise. We can argue all day about the variety of talent, good and bad, but it’s not going away. It’s here to stay, which means that your strategy needs to adapt. You are not going to get heard above the noise. There’s now one bookstore, and your book is sitting spine out on an infinite shelf. You are not going to get found.
In my long career in publishing, the worst outcome was pouring immense effort into all aspects of a book only to have it go unnoticed. A lot of factors might contribute to that, but it was always heartbreaking. You’ve done the work, you know it’s a good book, but it made very little impact. Heartbreaking.
I want to change that. So here’s what I’m going to do about it.
- My belief is that today is the best time to be a writer. The power is finally shifting to you, the creator.
- My belief is that today’s authors need to think like a publisher. That goes for published authors, too.
- My belief is that today’s authors are entrepreneurs, even if they don’t think of themselves that way.
I can help you with this. I am going to show you how to think like a publisher and an entrepreneur. I’ve lived in all three worlds, and have experiences from each that, woven together, will illuminate a new path. How shall I share this with you?
I am going to write a book, in the open, to model the process for you.
You’re going to be able to see the creative process, as it happens—not just from a writer’s perspective, but from a publisher’s perspective too. I want to show you all the considerations that go into producing a book. From setting goals at the outset, to developing the work, to hiring the help you need.
I’m going to help you because the power has shifted to you, the artist. But too many of you are not making the most of this shift in power. Too many of you still rely on old tropes and myths of the publishing industry. The rules have changed—significantly. I want to let you in on the new rules so that you are armed with the tools you need.
Here’s the thing, though. I don’t know everything. I’m going to be learning this as I go, just like you are. The only thing that’s different is that I have publishing experience and startup experience. You may have other experience that you can share with me, and the others who will be involved in this process.
I am going to be asking your opinion along the way. You have a lot to add. You’ve thought about which writing software is best and why. Which ePub conversion tool is best. The pros and cons of Amazon KDP Select. How to attract the attention of a discerning agent. I want to hear from you, and others do, too.
Hugh Howey has been a fantastic advocate for authors, and in the New World, we need this. There’s a community of new entrepreneurial authors out there who are just learning the landscape of a post-publisher world. We need to band together and support one another. To date, success has belonged to the few. With all the talent that’s out there today, there’s no reason that more of us can’t get there too.
Let’s keep the power shifting to the many. I’m not saying that publishers won’t have a place in the world of tomorrow—it’s just that their power over authors will be reduced. Authors will have choices—real choices—about whom they hire to help them. This will help publishers hone their offerings and start to re-balance the strained relationship they have with authors. Today they value the elite 1%, the “Tentpole Talent.” Tomorrow they will value you, too.
This isn’t going to happen all at all once, though. It’s going to take hard work, a ton of sustained effort, and a collection of individual successes. I’m rooting for you as much as I’m rooting for myself. Let’s do this together.