L A Johannesson

Romantic fiction with a geeky twist

L A Johannesson - Romantic fiction with a geeky twist

Are we learning enough about our industry?

I don’t often respond in such detail to posts/news articles I see online, but today I felt compelled to.

I read a post on the Huffington Post Books blog today and on one hand, I was pleased to see another example of how authors have such visible forums to share their thoughts with the literary community. And, on the other, I was struck by how tired I am of all the same old views and the same observations (some in my opinion,  mistaken ones) are being perpetuated, even by the likes of Huffington Post Books.

Here’s the link to the article – If you haven’t already, I suggest you read it before reading my response.

10 Things I Wish I Knew About Being an Author That I Learned the Hard Way

Maybe you’ll agree with Deborah, maybe you’ll think my views are have merit, maybe you’ll think they’re completely off base, maybe you’ll  have some additional thoughts/reactions of your own. I’m curious to know what you think so, please post a comment here or on the HuffPo post so that we can keep this conversation going.

Personally, I think it’s a conversation that this industry needs to keep having.

My response follows:

Interesting post. I appreciate the author sharing her experiences. I respect that they are her authentic experiences and that she’s actively begun a conversation. That should be applauded.

I think the article contains some good insights like having as many eyes as possible on your work, the use of professional editing, educating yourself about your craft and the power of community. But I’m a little surprised by a few of Deborah’s observations.

In fact, I’d respectfully challenge some of them:

This is the Huffington Post Book section, a place where people are supposed to be able to go for advice, insight, education and enlightenment around things literary.  I was a little disappointed when I read this post as there were a few points in it that troubled me.

For one, publishing is certainly about a lot more than sales. Yes, it is a business. I get that. We all get that. But this quote,

“Having a target audience that will buy your book and a great marketing strategy is the most important aspect of book publishing.”  Yes, sales are the metric for which the industry is measured, but to say that all publishing (traditional and indie) is “all about sales” and nothing else is, in my opinion, a crass and narrow interpretation.

I agree instead with this statement made in a Publisher’s Weekly article – “I can tell you firsthand that their reasons for publishing—and ultimately their definitions of success—are as unique as the books they submit to our companies for publication.” The full article can be found here:

PW Select: Book Publishing Success Measured by More than Sales Alone

Back to the HuffPo post. C’mon, if you don’t know  point #4 already, you really should not be writing fiction or articles about writing.

I don’t agree with #7  &  #8 – think this is short sighted, assumes that every writer is a marketer and that’s just not the case. Advertising with book bloggers, if that means placing an ad on their site, it is nowhere near as effective as content marketing in conjunction WITH book bloggers and other subject matter experts (both on and offline) as well as with traditional media outlets  – working with them to do author interviews, book reviews, content sharing and content curation, running contests, special offers, give-aways, promotions, etc.

#10 – While I agree the payoff is ultimately in the writing, and that there are so many measures of success, don’t you dare be realistic when it comes to book sales.

Here’s why,”The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” Thank you George Bernard Shaw.

If you want the scales to tip further in favour of the author, be unreasonable! Be innovative! Be creative! Don’t give up. Don’t aim your sales goals to fit within the old paradigm. This is a different industry now. It’s ripe for change, but people have to affect that change.

What this industry needs is people who are willing to push the envelope, to embrace the new tools, to push them to their limits, to leverage technology and the opportunities that avail themselves through our global landscape, to be better marketers, to learn from the great marketers and from other industries, to use their passion for writing, their passion for their subject and these new tools at our disposal to become the biggest, best and most authentic marketers of their work possible.

This is what publishing needs. It’s also what marketing needs.

So If we’re learning things the hard or the easy way, let’s set our sights on learning new things, not the same lessons over and over.  Let’s set our sights on learning to do things right and learning to do the right things.

And by the right things, I mean the right things for the future, not the past.

APE – The Theory of Revolution

We’re in the midst of an indie revolution. Traditional publishing is challenged by those who are ‘doing it for themselves’ and by the people who are making it their business to do it for others, share what they know and help many of us to realise the dream of becoming successful self-published authors. And it’s all happening without the assistance of the traditional publisher.

Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch recently co-authored, published and launched APE -Author, Publisher Entrepreneur – How to Publish a Book. While apes are usually associated with evolution, not revolution, this time it’s different.

Detailing the trend they call ‘artisanal publishing’, their new book is a ‘how to’ guide for the indie author, outlining practical ways to best publish and promote the independent work, thus bypassing traditional publishing practices.

While a handy guide on it’s own, this book is being used as the platform upon which revolutionaries Guy and Shawn stand to rally  the indie author troops, inspire them and  band them together to build their indie movement. Once it gains the requisite membership momentum, it will surely  challenge the foundations of traditional publishing and be a formidable force of its own. Benefits to authors and readers alike should ultimately result.

I will not sit idly by and watch this happen. I want to be an active part of the movement. I have some of my own revolutionary ideas on this that I’ll share in a future post so watch this space. Thankfully, I’ve already taken some steps to secure my place. I have embraced the roles of indie author, publisher and entrepreneur and am proud to discuss, defend and share my experiences.

I have also been lucky enough to be in conversation with Guy and Shawn and was recently featured on a HOA for an APE Makeover on Google+ where they reviewed a number of indie works and provided feedback to us based on the principles they espouse in their book. For the full episode, aired originally on February 14, 2013 see the video below. The detailed discussion of ‘eloves me, eloves me not‘ begins around the 44 minute mark.

APE Makeover with co-authors Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch Co-authors Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch, moderated by Peg Fitzpatrick

I found this a great experience where I received a few sincere compliments, some helpful tips and suggestions (a number of which have already been implemented) and the chance to meet others involved in creating change within this industry .

Thanks to the Google-goodness, it was all achieved without even leaving the comforts of home. Yet another reason I’m becoming quite the Google+ fangirl!

Media Release

Media Release: ‘eloves me, eloves me not’ Author Trades Traditional Publishing Model For More Contemporary Approach 

Began distributing  the official media release for the book today. Where are my  newswire friends now?

You can read it here

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