Next month, Net Minds will launch at the first Author (R)evolution conference, put on as part of O'Reilly Publishing's annual Tools of Change event. I will be part of a panel: How To Put It All Together: Choosing A Production & Distribution Service. The one day event will feature compelling content for authors, including: The value of giving away content, Community Driven Publishing, Marketing & Discovery and Data. The program was organized because in TOC's view, "Business as usual [for authors] is not enough." Hear, hear.
I join them in this idea: The author must evolve, go beyond 'the talent" and take matters into his/her own hands to be successful in the new reality. Gone are the days where publishers act as curators, investors and star makers. They've lost shelf space, much of their financial resources and most of their patience to hang in there when a book doesn't immediately work. It's not personal, it's just the mechanics of a antequated busines model that results in a hits-only mentality.
Most publishers are offering much smaller advances (10K is the new 50K), taking the same most-of-the-pie share of royalties and increasingly expecting the author to do most/all of the marketing. And, they take 2+ years to get to market. So for authors, evolve or be ignored. New perspectives, skills and approaches must be adopted to deliver your idea to any sizable group of readers. When I look at how people have evolved in my career as a dotcom executive (from retail giants to telecommunications companies), I see it in three steps: Adapt, Expand and Grow.
Adapt to the circumstances: This means you accept the new reality of publishing without emotion, then commit yourself to changing your authorship style to accommodate it. Don't write alone, use social media to develop a community around your idea. Start marketing/promoting the book's launch a year before it comes out, likely while you are still writing it. Don't expect publishers (or self-publishers) to do anything for you except provide design (mostly templated), conversion and distribution. Don't let anyone but YOU be the project manager.
Expand into the opportunity: Develop your own platform, even if you have to invest an hour every day. Become a student of promotions and marketing. Build your own circle of proof readers, design consultants and book launch partners. Broker with other authors to build up more resources and share best practices.
Grow from the experience: Cultivate the belief that the author is a creative, just like an inventor or a musician. Erase your notions of literary-greatness or entitlement.
You are not a victim. You are a triumphant survivor.
Recast yourself as an independent-empowered entrepreneur who just wants your idea to find traction, and is willing to accept responsiblity for it's success or failure. Learn to love disruptive technology as the great equalizer. Stop expecting talent to be rewarded by the market and, instead, believe that the reading experience is what makes a project successful.
One final idea: For every author we are working with, we are working with twenty freelancers from editorial to design to promotions. They too are part of the author (R)evolution, and in their case, they need credit for their work. It can take many forms such as financial, marketing or even social.
Our goal is to create a platform where their work is rewarded, either with passive income or marketing power. Without publishers subsidizing authors, we'll see skinnier budgets and crowd funding efforts attempting to bridge the gap. In those cases, Net Minds will give freelancers the ability to require a piece of the action (royalty-sharing) when they work for less than their normal fee.
This is a disruptive idea, which requires freelancers to reconsider hybrid arrangements that have an element of risk involved. But if they do, they have a chance to optimize their time, work on projects they love and build up a passive income stream along with ratings/reviews and credit for their outstanding work. When they work on a book that breaks out, they'll make 200% to 500% more than their standard fee. That's the value of risk reward.
Oh yeah, for the first time, we'll give freelancers the ability to review authors as clients and talk about their experience working them them. That'll close the evolutionary loop!
If you'd like to attend the Author (R)evolution Event or TOC, you can save $350 bucks using our discount code: NM350. Tweet me @netminds if you are coming, and I'll buy you a cup of joe.
Tim is a bestselling author and former Yahoo! executive with a mission to disrupt the traditional publishing and self-publishing industries and share knowledge with authors looking to publish and market high-quality books.Follow @sanderssays
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