Writer’s Bloc: An Inside Guide to the Publishing Business
Welcome to the wild world of self-publishing – one of the most exciting and rewarding journeys you’ll ever undertake. But make no mistake: It can often be a long, difficult and bumpy road as well. Navigating the publishing industry’s ups and downs has always been a rollercoaster ride. But in an era of breakneck change, as the realms of digital, print and on-demand publishing increasingly collide in strange and unexpected (not to mention smartphone-, tablet PC- and app-friendly) forms, consider. Nowadays, it’s more akin to taking a regular spin on Space Mountain. Daily. And after having chugged a Big Gulp and binged on theme park hot dogs to boot.
That said, I’d like to personally welcome you to the party: Just by taking the time to visit this blog and learn more about the day-to-day realities of working as a published author, you’ve already justified your presence on the VIP guest list. As the creator of nearly a dozen books on business and technology, including the bestselling The Modern Parent’s Guide high-tech parenting series and The Business Expert’s Guidebook (which explains how to use everyday apps, gadgets and online services to start and successfully run any small business), trust me when I say that the festivities are just getting started. Ask anyone who’s been published, and they’ll let you in on a closely-guarded industry secret: Coming up with the idea for your next life-changing masterwork, and even writing the book, is merely the beginning.
Think writer’s block is a challenge? It certainly can be. But as insiders know, in addition to penning the manuscript, successfully producing and marketing a volume today also involves having to publicize, market, distribute, evangelize and educate the public, and industry, to its respective merits. Which, of course, isn’t to say that you can’t, or won’t, enjoy overnight success, or even need to with your creations – for many, simply putting pen to paper is truly the greatest reward of all. Merely that for those who desire to further kindle the bright spark of ingenuity and/or fandom that they’ve brought to life, tireless dedication is required to successfully fan it into a roaring flame.
As both a onetime hopeful looking in and current industry insider, let me assure you: Nothing in the publishing world comes easy. But the good news is, thanks to the growing array of technology tools, services and options available to everyday individuals, such as those offered our good friends here at Lulu, you’ve never possessed more power or a better chance to shape your own authorial and entrepreneurial destiny. Consider that lavishly-rendered print volumes can now be produced in record time and at reasonable quantities, then sold and distributed worldwide with the press of a button. Thanks to the rise of dedicated e-reading devices like the Kindle, NOOK and Sony Reader, affordably-packaged and -distributed digital volumes can further be uploaded and shared with thousands in seconds. Worth noting as well: The growing ubiquity of mobile gadgets such as the iPhone and iPad has also paved the way for a new breed of book – one which literally anybody can make and market, and as often as not includes online connectivity and extensive multimedia features.
Just as crucial to consider is how all have completely redefined our expectation of what we demand from today’s manuscripts, too. Free eBooks, brisk reads such as Kindle Singles, and even simple Word documents that anthologize the best of a blog’s postings are all becoming increasingly viable publishing methods. To those standing on the outside looking in, I encourage you to write frequently, profusely and not be discouraged: Short-form, value-priced content provides the perfect vehicle to get your feet wet and/or showcase short essays, novellas and even collected poems while you hone your skills, grow your fan base, and build your repertoire. Likewise, to those experienced with the intricacies of the business, or feeling locked into its age-old confines, I beseech you to break free and reinvent yourself, using new channels to supplement, replace and/or expand upon your existing catalogue. New works can be created or packaged in a dizzying range of styles and formats, even as older works can be updated, repurposed and re-imagined for a new generation of readers in fresh and unexpected ways. In other words, in this new, more enlightened day and age, the power to bring radical new ideas to life, cement your expert credentials, and even build a following while testing works’ commercial viability outside of traditional channels lies at your fingertips. Suddenly, brilliance is no longer the sole purview of professional printing houses and literary agents to identify and cultivate – in a world of democratized publishing, anyone can create works of wonder for the general public itself to enjoy and weigh on their own merits.
Just as crowdfunding is quickly transforming the world of business investment, so too are today’s new publishing tools quickly doing the same for modern authors. In the future, I fully expect to see such solutions do for the field what Apple’s App Store has done for the software industry – and perhaps give rise to a new breed of author who pivots quicker, and even works directly with, their fans to respond to changing tastes and needs. And in the interest of taking readers behind the curtain and ushering in a new generation of dreamers, small and large alike, I’d like to extend to you the offer of a front row seat to the royal ball. As the head of new business and technology book publishing imprint READ.ME (authors wanted, please submit your ideas at our website) it’s my aim to take you behind the velvet rope, and illustrate the realities of this brave new world. The first in a running series of columns about the business of publishing, Writer’s Bloc aims to offer actionable hints, tips and strategies not only for breaking onto the scene, but also branding, promoting and more effectively leveraging the power of your works to build a lasting career. I sincerely hope you’ll come along for the journey, as we explore the ever-changing tides and travails of the book publishing world – and, of course, how you can successfully navigate all while writing a new chapter in your own life story.
– Scott Steinberg
Professional keynote speaker Scott Steinberg is a world-renowned expert on leveraging new technology trends to enhance business strategy and family life, and the creator of new publishing label READ.ME. A bestselling author and futurist, he provides dynamic speaking presentations at corporate events, meetings and conferences, and is the creator of The Modern Parent’s Guide and Business Expert’s Guidebook series. As the CEO of strategic consulting firm TechSavvy Global, he’s a frequent on-air analyst for all major TV networks including ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and CNN, and has served as an industry insider for 400+ outlets from Fast Company to Inc. and Rolling Stone.