“Soon all media that ever was will be instantly servable….We are only at the dawn of the age of immersive and total connectivity.”
–Author and media maven Michael Wolff, USA Weekend article (7/11-12)
We are floating in the knowosphere where three billion hyperconnected global villagers have instant access to what Wolff calls “the Niagara of content.”
We’re simultaneously in a state of information deficit and information overload, and there’s nothing we can do about either of them. The more there is to know, the less we know of it.
How can you make the growing number of people around the world who want to read your work aware of it? Here are nine suggestions for keeping you and your work afloat when the falls are absorbed into the endless, bottomless stream of content:
You can only write as well as well as you read, so read as many books you love as you can. Those are the books you’ll love writing. They will be models for the style, content, and length of your books. One of those authors may be the model for your career.
- Use Goodreads and other social media to become part of the community of readers who love the kind of books you’re writing.
- Come up with an idea for a series of books that you are passionate about writing and sharing, and it can the foundation of your brand and your career.
Because of technology, human consciousness is shifting back from the left side of the brain to the right, from words to images.
Wolff noted that:
• Adults spend eleven hours a day on digital media and twenty-three hours a week texting.
• Gamers play three billion hours of video games a week.
• Websters are watching six billion hours of YouTube a month.
They are all the same age: screenagers, dividing their time between computers, cellphones, tablets, televisions, gps devices, and movie screens. The Net net? Writers have to think in images as well as words when writing and promoting their books. What visual elements can you use in your work? Photos, videos, graphics, sound effects, animation?
• The greatest creative opportunity on the planet is telling a story combining all of these elements so effectively that readers aren’t aware you’re doing it.
• By 2020, humanity will be networked with fifty billion web-enabled devices. Books will follow the movies: The biggest source of growth will be foreign sales. In the global mobile village, most books will be read on phones. Enhanced ebooks that integrate other media are the real revolution after Gutenberg. How can you make your books as enjoyable to see as they are to read?
• The title and cover of your book are essential elements in convincing browsers, online or off, to take a closer look at it. How can you use an image in your title and cover art to attract readers?
• Include a link to a video of you showing your passion for writing and promoting your book in your e-query letter and when you submit your work.
Also have a clear, inspiring vision of your literary and publishing goals—what you want to write and the future you want for your work and yourself.
3. Think Small.
You will write different kinds of work of different lengths for different media for free and for fees. But you have to build engaged, win-win communities of fans who will read everything you write.
If you write fiction and nonfiction, or about different subjects or different kinds of fiction, you will have to build a community of readers for each kind of writing. To accelerate the growth of your career, focus on the books that will enable you to reach your literary and publishing goals as quickly and easily as possible. When you achieve your goals, you will be free to write anything you want, and you’ll have a fan base to help you get started.
4. Think Big.
One reason now is the best time to be a writer is that you have more ways than ever to profit from your ideas. So think about your idea in the biggest possible way. The moment you decide on the idea for your book, start making a list of ways that you can monetize it, such as other books, audiobooks, speaking, merchandise, a movie, and foreign rights. Also start a list of ideas for other books in the series you want to write, whether they’re sequels or standalones.
Most authors have to publish at least five books to build an audience. Repurposing your work in as many ways as you can will speed up the process of building your readership and your income.
Global villagers share the same needs, fears, and desires. This is why the kinds of books on bestseller lists haven’t changed in a century. A growing number of them read in the international language of culture and commerce. Before long, more Chinese will read English than Americans. You are writing for the world of book buyers who want to read your work.
6. Emulate Your Models.
Until you know who the author is that you were born to be, use your favorite books and authors as models for your books and career. When you succeed, you and your books we be models for other writers.
Live to serve. Your future will depend on how well and how often you serve your communities of readers and the other people you need to succeed.
The two keys to serving your communities are passion and craft. Your ability to conceive and craft your books so your readers love them will determine the fate of your work. Your eagerness to share your passion for the value of your books will help determine how quickly you succeed.
Your love for writing and sharing your work will help you create your tribe, a fan base of lifetime champions who will read everything you write, buy everything you sell, and tell others about your work.
Almost 700,000 trade books were published last year. Traditional publishers do less than 300,000, self-publishers almost 400,000. As Wolff remarked about all media, “supply has overwhelmed demand.” And that’s without taking into consideration all of the other ways consumers can spend their free time and discretionary income.
Apart from continuing to compete with yourself by striving to do your best work and being relentlessly passionate about sharing the value of it, you have to help meet the competition awaiting your work with technovation. This is author Kit Yarrow’s word for using technology to innovate. The way to stand out from other authors is to keep innovating in how you write and promote your books. Follow authors in your field, and ask fans and friends to let you know about what other authors are doing, so you can adapt their ideas.
It’s been said that an adventure is what happens when something goes wrong. Building your career will be an adventure, and things will go wrong along the way. Let your goals keep you inspired, and change them if you wish. You are what you want as well as what you do. Bon voyage!
The goal of the blog is to help us both understand writing, publishing, and their place in the world. I teach what I need to learn. Questions and comments most welcome.
Do one thing every day to make the world better. –John Perkins, Confessions of an Economic Hitman
The 6th San Francisco Writing for Change Conference / Changing the World One Book at a Time
September, 6th, 2014 / www.sfwritingforchange.org / [email protected]
Keynoter: Adam Hochschild
The 12th San Francisco Writers Conference & Open Enrollment Classes
A Celebration of Craft, Commerce & Community
February 12-16, 2015/ www.sfwriters.org / [email protected] / Mike’s blog: http://sfwriters.info/blog @SFWC / www.facebook.com/SanFranciscoWritersConference
Keynotes: Judith Curr, John Lescroart, Yiyun Li
Michael Larsen-Elizabeth Pomada Literary Agents / Helping Writers Launch Careers Since 1972
[email protected] / www.larsenpomada.com / 415-673-0939 /1029 Jones Street / San Francisco, 94109