I just read a blog post from some experts about how authors had more control of their destiny and could market via social media and . . . well, I just got bored. It read much like a blog post I did on 14 September 2011 saying authors were the real gatekeepers in publishing, which only makes the expert’s observation about seven months behind my own myopic view from here in the boonies.
When I was at Digital Book World in January 2012, I was a bit taken aback. What I was hearing from “gurus” on e-publishing was around six months to a year out of date with the reality of e-publishing. And this was in NY City, my hometown (from da’ Bronx) and the center of publishing. Apparently not for e-publishing.
Here’s another funny thing I noted from afar for DBW 2011 (where a big agent on a panel dismissed ebooks saying they were only 3% of the bottom line, why worry?). Many social media “gurus” espousing the value of social media had Twitter accounts that were anemic. 40 followers. Following 6. 12 tweets. Huh? They were touting something they had no clue about doing.
A few weeks ago I posted that perhaps March 2012 was the month traditional publishing died. The response was a yawn. My focus was not on publishing but on traditional. I went from the Infantry (traditional army) to Special Forces (non-traditional). I took off my crossed rifles branch insignia of Infantry for the crossed arrows of Special Forces at Fort Benning while going through the Infantry Officers Advanced Course. I know how hard change can be. I was on the committee that drastically changed the Special Forces Assessment and Selection (SFAS) and Qualification Course (Q-Course) to help develop our current generation of elite warriors. We focused on results, not tradition, not dogma, but reality.
Then I posted a response to an interview with the Digital Head at S&S and the response was a correction to two parts of it, but nothing else. No interest in my insights about how to start from scratch and build a seven-figure indie publishing house in 18 months. Did it, done it, got the crossed arrows. I feel like Mickey Rooney—“hey kids, let’s put on a play”. Except it went to Broadway and is still playing and no one else putting on plays seems interested in learning how I did it, even though I’ve been offering and offering and offering. Wait. Yes, some are. They’re named Amazon. And my phone did ring with a call from Seattle. And that, my friends, is the crux of the problem NY is having.
I’ve written a book, (Write It Forward: From Writer to Successful Author) about author training and challenged every publishing house and agent to show me their author training program. S&S says they have an author boot camp. I have a book with S&S and wasn’t invited to attend. Do they have hand to hand in the sand pits at two in the morning like we did at Camp Mackall during Special Forces training? No idea. I’d love to sell more of my title there, especially since it’s far from earning out and I feel bad about that. Hard to believe, authors do feel a sense of responsibility to their agent and their publisher. I’ve been able to sell more of an eBook of a title in one day than a traditional publisher can in six months. I’ve got the royalty statements to prove it. Think what I could do if a publisher teamed their massive infrastructure with my homegrown industry?
Jen Talty and I wrote a book on how we built Who Dares Wins (soon to be Cool Gus) publishing from scratch called The ShelfLess Book: The Complete Digital Author.
You want to know where the epicenter of e-publishing is? Barbara Freethy. Bella Andre. John Locke. Barry Eisler. And yes, scream if you want, J.A. Konrath. They are not the enemy. They are the ones who’ve been, and still are, in the trenches. Some of those people still have titles with the Big 6. Are you working with them? Or against them?
I am completely befuddled why those in the industry are not reaching out to the authors who have been wildly successful at what the Big 6 are attempting to do with their own contract authors.
I’m not trying to be at odds here. Really. Mike Shatzkin invited me to Storyworld and DBW because he thought I had a very balanced view of things. I joke that I’m a publishing whore; I’ll say yes to anything if it will sell books. But I also am reminded of Trixie in Deadwood. She carried a gun.
But keep ignoring, or worse fight, the expertise that is really needed. People who succeed at something have more to offer than those who advise about how to succeed at something they themselves have not actually succeeded at.
That hurt my head.