How Writers and Readers Are Changing Publishing

Mike Larsen was awarded the 2018 SFWC/SFWF Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the publishing industry. Both Mike and his wife Elizabeth Pomada have helped thousands of writers over the years through their literary agency and as cofounders of the San Francisco Writers Conference. Mike is flanked by SFWC Marketing Director Barbara Santos and SFWC Director Laurie McLean.

Publishing’s New Power Couple
23 Reasons Readers and Writers are Reinventing Publishing

Technology disrupts publishing by minimizing the barriers between readers and writers. Publishing only needs three elements: writers, readers, and tools for connecting them. Technology provides the tools. Readers and writers are replacing traditional publishers, media, and reviewers, and creating a new literary culture. Here are 23 reasons writers and readers are creating a new publishing paradigm:


  1. Writers are the most important people in the publishing process, because they create content.
  2. Writing is the easiest of the arts to enter and succeed in.
  3. You have more control over your work and career than ever.
  4. You can reach more readers in more ways and places faster and more easily than ever for free.
  5. Technology makes writing, revising, publishing, and promotion faster and easier.
  6. You have more software tools than ever to help you write.
  7. You have more books and authors than ever to use as models for your books and career.
  8. You have more ways than ever to earn income from your work.
  9. You have more publishing options than ever.
  10. Your books will be published, perhaps by you.
  11. You have more ways to prove the value of your books before you sell or publish them.
  12. You can use crowdfunding to finance your books.
  13. You can use Patreon to support your writing.
  14. Technology empowers you to make a difference as well as a living.


  1. Readers are the second most important people in publishing, because they keep books alive.
  2. More readers in more places can find books in more forms faster than ever for free or at a discount.
  3. The response of readers to your content and communications will determine your success.
  4. Social media makes books readers love unstoppable and makes them sell faster than ever, regardless of who publishes them or how.
  5. Readers want to love your work.
  6. Readers love sharing their passion for books.
  7. You can sustain your relationship with your fans by sharing original and curated material.
  8. 2020, five billion smartphones will connect readers, writers and books.
  9. Five million book-club members can help assure a book’s success.

Worms in the Big Apple

Amazon controls more than 40% of print sales and 80% of ebook sales, which is not healthy for writers or publishers. Others threats to writers include short attention spans, the shift to a visual culture, and the competition for people’s time and money.

Publishers will remain a powerful, essential force for discovering writers and exciting readers about books. But for the first time, the future of writing and publishing is in the hands, eyes, hearts, and minds of the people who make it possible: readers and writers. Give your readers what they want and they will reciprocate.


Mike Larsen, author, Author Coach
Cofounder, San Francisco Writers Conference: A Celebration of Craft, Commerce & Community and San Francisco Writing for Change Conference: Writing to Make a Difference /
415-673-0939 / 1029 Jones St. / San Francisco, 94109

A New Year’s Resolution You’ll Love

Booklovers don’t go to bed alone. They bring a good book.

 Never Go to Bed Alone

“I learned to be a writer by reading.” – Stephen King

Writers, especially storytellers, are usually inspired to write because of books they love. They are so moved and inspired that they want to create something that will have the same effect on their readers.

Author Ernest Gaines believes that you only write as well as you read. So read what you love to read and write what you love to read. Make writing a labor of love for yourself and your readers. What should you read? Anything that helps you become a better writer. Read books:

  • You enjoy
  • By your favorite authors
  • That inspire you
  • That help you decide what to write
  • Like those you want to write
  • Recommended by readers you trust
  • About your field
  • About your favorite authors
  • With information you need or want
  • About writing, including books like yours
  • About publishing and promotion
  • So successful that they help you understand trends and popular taste, and that may help your writing
  • That help you grow as a writer and a person

Downloadable audio is the fastest growing segment of publishing. Like reading your work aloud, listening to books will give you insights into your writing.  (NOTE: If you are interested in learning how to incorporate audio and/or videos into your own publishing platform, Adam Cushman, CEO of Film14 will be teaching a SFWC/SFWF Master Class on Feb. 19th at the 2018 SFWC and there will be a FREE Open to the Public Exhibitor Talk by Cory Verner, founder of Verity Audio Productions, at 4 p.m on Friday, Feb. 16, as well. Go to for details.)

Booklovers never go to bed alone. The British critic Nancy Banks-Smith said: “Agatha Christie has given more pleasure in bed than any other woman.” Reading is one of the joys of being a writer. I wish you lifetime of joy doing both.

Mike Larsen,
Author, Author Coach,
Co-founder, San Francisco Writers Conference: A Celebration of Craft, Commerce & Community /
San Francisco Writing for Change Conference: Writing to Make a Difference

Authors as Activists

Revolution Books’ manager Reiko Redmonde will speak on the “Authors as Activist: Writing the Resistance” panel at the 2018 San Francisco Writers Conference in February. This panel will be free and open to the public. Details to come on this. But we want to share this article on how this courageous woman and the entire book community came together to stand up for bookstores and our right to read.

Reiko Redmonde, manager of Revolution Books, speaks during a press conference to discuss recent incidents with right-wing protesters who were in town for a series of demonstrations, in Berkeley, on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017. Photo: David Yee ©2017

Revolution Books Weathers Harassment Campaign by Alt Right Activists
First appeared in Publisher’s Weekly By Jason Boog   Oct 20, 2017

At the conclusion of the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association annual meeting in San Francisco Thursday, Berkeley’s Revolution Books manager Reiko Redmonde spoke to her fellow booksellers about enduring a month-long campaign by a loose coalition of conservative activists who describe themselves as “right-wing media.”

On September 24, conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos made a brief visit to Berkeley, an event that drew police from around the region. That evening, a band of between 30 and 40 right-wing activists stormed Revolution Books. The attackers recorded the episode on video, rattling windows and confronting patrons.

Since the initial incident, these activists have orchestrated at least five more visits to the store—posting their exploits in online videos. In one clip, an activist shouts at the camera: “Wherever you hang out, wherever you spill Communist literature—we’re coming to a f***ing bookstore near you.” In another clip, a protester elbows a bookstore supporter in the face, smashing his glasses. The most recent incident occurred on October 17, when conservative activists assembled and chanted outside Revolution Books after the store closed.

After she shared her story at NCIBA, Redmonde handed out a broadsheet with support from local authors like Ayelet Waldman (“It horrifies me to hear that our beloved Revolution Books was targeted by vicious white supremacists”) and Joyce Carol Oates (“We in the Berkeley community, and throughout the country, are solidly on your side, and applaud your courage, tenacity, and determination.”)

The harassment extends beyond physical confrontations. Right-wing activists also “dox” their targets, sharing opponents’ personal information online. In digital forums, these activists have released contact information for bookstore employees, patrons, and supporters. Revolution Books has received up to 60 calls a day from people mocking or threatening the store. The insults have spread to online review sites as well. “Revolution Books is a Communist Recruitment center trying to brainwash kids to do their dirty work for them,” wrote one Yelp reviewer.

When asked if the campaign could shutter the bookstore, manager Redmonde responded, “Hell no! We’re not going anywhere. We are needed now more than ever.” On October 14, the bookstore hosted a fundraiser; its headline was “Support Revolution Books Against Fascist Attacks and Threats.” The store now prominently stocks history titles about white supremacy and the rise of fascism in Italy, Germany, and Latin America.

For other booksellers who might face a similar kind of intimidation campaign, Redmonde had this advice: “We are there. We’ve got your back. We’ll go to your bookstore and stand in front of it. And everyone else in your town should do the same.”