Thursday, July 22, 2010

Dirty Words - Challenge and Change

There are lots of interesting things to talk about this week. As I am looking at the list in front of me the common theme seems to be Change.

Change can be a scary word, a dirty word, a depressing word. It can also be an energising word.
Change can challenge you to overcome an obstacle. Change can see you treading a path you never thought you would take.

If you are a regular reader...(waves to the followers) you will  see that I often take a look at what commentators are saying about the publishing industry. After all we are all struggling for the prize of publication whether it’s our first or our 50th book, nothing these days is guaranteed. It is wise to keep one eye on what the industry is facing so we can change our focus if we need to.

This week Seth Godin posted a link to a talk he gave to the American Independent Publishers Association. It is a worthwhile listen. There are some interesting ideas in the talk to think about for writers as well as publishers. Seth’s main message is cultivating your tribe and standing for an idea. He sees publisher survival as only happening when you harness the long tail and the niche in a specific area. Mike Shatzkin, as I have previously referred to, also believes this. Seth in his talk compares the recording industry changes and what might happen if the publishing industry gets it right. It is a longish talk so clear the decks and grab a coffee to get the full benefit.
I have already heard back from two independent publishers whom I sent this link on to who were very interested in the ideas Seth is talking about.

Changing the way you think about publishing is another challenge. In this fast moving digital world everybody can be a publisher. I am a publisher of this blog. Publishing is not restricted to paper and ink. One writer who looked at publishing in a new way is Neil Ayres. He looked at the iphone decided he could publish his book on it and then set about creating an iphone  application that did just that. He became a publisher in new media....and the story he tells about how he did it is a worthwhile read. After all the biggest downloads for the ipad are children’s books. You don’t know where a new path might take you. Publishers weekly have an article on the Digital Revolution and Children’s Publishing.

Cory is well known for giving his books away for free as podcasts. These books, when they get published in paper and ink, then go on to be best sellers. Cory is experimenting with producing his books in a variety of FREE formats and looking at how much he will earn from them. He started the experiment about 10 months ago.
I can see you shaking your head now...but guess what... he does earn money. In his latest column he talks about the experiment and how successful it has been so far.

Muriel Lede of Self Publishing Review has listed a comprehensive list of links to think about for your web presence. I think it is now an accepted fact that if you are an author pre published or published you should have a website. This week I talked to a good friend, who is multi published, about how easy it was to set up a website/blog.  It is getting even easier to establish an effective web presence as Muriel explains. My friend has admitted that fear of the unknown has held her back...I promised to hold her hand as she embraces the challenge of change.

Challenging yourself to change can be very empowering. Last year we put together an inspirational conference (Spinning Gold) for Children’s Writers and Illustrators with the goals of upskilling ourselves and our colleagues. We have watched with interest, in the 10 months since then, the new authors who were picked up from the conference and the new websites appearing from established writers and illustrators who learned about the change in the publishing industry at the conference. We knew from the outset that committing to attending a conference was a huge ask in our low paid industry.

This is true wherever in the world you are. 

A few weeks ago I sent you to look at a video about an online conference just for Children’s writers. The conference WriteOnCon is open for registrations and boy has it taken off with registrations from around the world. A look at the presenters (agents, editors, writers) will show you that this is a top quality opportunity. AND IT IS FREE!  Jane Friedman has recently posted an article on why it is essential  that writers attend  conferences.  If you have the opportunity, attend WriteOn Con.  As it is online, in the evening for us, take it!

The Enchanted Inkpot, a group of Mid Grade and Y A fantasy Children’s writers, have an interesting post that has generated lots of comment. The Y A  Section of the bookstore is geared towards girls. Where are the Y A books for boys?
Do we need to change our focus so that we capture boy readers, after all they are demographic  everybody is worried about.....are publishers disenfranchising these readers by their choice of covers? Lots of ideas and opinions in the comments thread.

Over the last few years on this blog, I have explored the nature of groups like The Enchanted Inkpot as a marketing tool for the writers involved. As far as I can see there are only benefits from this type of group effort. I am having a direct experience of this as part of the FABO story project.

Nine New Zealand Children’s Writers have come together to write a group Junior Fiction novel. We are challenging ourselves to be creative as we each take a chapter, following no written plot and letting our imagination run amok. But we are also asking New Zealand Children to write their own chapter in response to ours. Each week a new chapter is being posted on to the FaBo Story website. All the writers are energised by this project. The ideas, the jokes and collective imaginings of the team inspire us and spur us on. The project launched yesterday and already we have had interested schools contacting us to take part. This of course energises and challenges us even more.

As we were putting the idea together, I was interviewed by blogger Alison Stevens about Creativity. Alison posted that interview yesterday in honour of the launch of the Fabo story project. (so it has international interest...)

Over on Craicerplus (my amplify page) There are links to articles

Author Michael Morpurgo Welcomes Book Technology

6 Personality Types who Will Succeed  As Writers

How To Protect Your Intellectual Property On Line

On Christian Fantasy- More Than Tolkein And Lewis

Pitching –What They Want To Hear

I write my blog posts like Cory own writing like Stephanie least she is a good storyteller- if she wasn’t, would a love triangle involving a wet heroine, a vampire and a werewolf ever have taken off? 




Alison Pearce Stevens said...

Hi Maureen, my readers have shown interest in the FaBo project, too. It's really exciting to see you all doing something so innovative.

I write like James Joyce... or Dan Brown, depending on the MS. :)

Maureen said...

oooooooh Alison, James Joyce eh.
you literary lion....
We are getting teachers contacting us to say that thekids are really enthusiastic....what have we started??? lol

Elana Johnson said...

Hey, thanks for the shout out about WriteOnCon! What a great bunch of links this is.

Maureen said...

Hi Elana,
I think you are mad, crazy, wonderful, inspiring....
and the rest of the WriteOnCon team are mad, crazy, wonderful,inspiring...
That's only because last year I was co heading a conference just like yours but not online...and it was mad ,crazy inspiring and exhausting...Look after yourself!

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