Writing for the Knowosphere: Serving Screenagers in the Global Mobile Village

“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:

1. Read.

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.

2. Visualize.

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.

5. Universalize.

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.

7. Serve.

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.

8. Compete.

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.

9. Enjoy!

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 / sfwriterscon@aol.com
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 / sfwriterscon@aol.com / 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
larsenpoma@aol.com / www.larsenpomada.com / 415-673-0939 /1029 Jones Street / San Francisco, 94109


A Declaration of Independence for Writers

When, in the course of publishing events, it becomes necessary for writers to end the hopes that lure them to the five New York conglomerates that dominate trade publishing, and to assume among the powers of writers and publishers, the separate and equal station to which the First Amendment entitles them, a decent respect to the opinions of humanity requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all writers are created equal, that they are endowed with certain unalienable rights, that among these are the rights to write and publish as they please. That to fulfill these rights, publishers are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the writers they serve.

Whenever publishing becomes destructive to these ends, it is the writers’ right to alter how they publish, and to institute new organizations, businesses, and ways of working, laying their foundation on such principles and organizing their powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their success.

Despite their passion and commitment for finding and publishing good books, the five New York conglomerates that dominate trade publishing are prisoners of outdated traditions and the profit expectations of corporate overloads, most of them abroad.

New writers trust that being published by one of the conglomerates assures success, but more than 80% of traditionally published books fail. The truth is that being published by a conglomerate is far more likely to lead to failure than success, making it harder to sell the author’s next book.

The conglomerates’ growing expectations for books and authors’ platforms and promotion plans make it harder for writers to find the literary agent they need to be published by conglomerates. More than 90% of new writers have to sell their books to independent presses themselves or publish independently to test-market their work and their ability to promote it.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that publishing traditions long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that writers are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abandoning the traditions to which they are accustomed.

But when a long train of abuses, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them by not publishing them or doing justice to their work, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such traditions, and to provide new ways of publishing for their future success.

Such has been the patient sufferance of writers; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter former systems of publishing. The history of the conglomerates is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object profit and the establishment of control over writers and their books. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

Publishers want their books to succeed, but because they are publishing too many books, the conglomerates:

  • Cannot provide all of the editorial, design, distribution, marketing resources, or the efforts in selling subsidiary rights necessary for all of the books they publish
  • Devote most of their resources to the few books for which they have the greatest financial or emotional commitment
    Do not give their books enough time to build a readership
  • Do not give authors enough access to information about their books
  • Withhold authors’ income longer than necessary
  • May sell overstock or put a book out of print without giving authors a chance to buy copies
  • Do nothing for most books after their brief launch window
  • May merge with another conglomerate which affects their authors’ books, income, and perhaps their editors

We and organizations representing us have petitioned for redress. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common interest to disavow the lack of support for our books. We must, therefore, hold them as frenemies: indifferent or hostile in commerce for most books, but friends and allies in our love of writing, books and publishing.

Therefore, as writers of the United States of America, we do solemnly publish and declare, that writers are, and of right ought to be free and independent; and that as free and independent writers, they have full power to write, publish, and promote their work as they see fit, and to do all other acts and things which independent writers may of right do.

And for the support of this declaration, with the help of technology and a firm reliance on the protection of the First Amendment, we mutually pledge to support each other in pursuing our literary and publishing goals.

Now is the best time to be a writer or publisher. Writers and publishers will continue to contact each other in the attempt to create lasting relationships that grow more creative and profitable as writers’ careers develop.

We know that authors usually have to publish at least five books to build an audience. Developing our career enables us to build our visibility and communities of people to help us, and to learn how to promote and test-market our work. When we become successful enough, agents and publishers will find us. Then we will have to evaluate whether a publisher will add enough to our efforts to justify giving up our independence.

Until then, we will leave it up to our readers to determine how good and successful our work is. As Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote: “The best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market.”

[This was written in the hope that writers will amend, sign, and forward it.]


50 Shades of Pay: Making Money as a Contentpreneur

Writers who want to succeed need to reinvent themselves as contentpreneurs—creative, innovative entrepreneurs who produce and repurpose content for different forms, media and countries.  Contentpreneurs have more opportunities than ever to serve their communities, generate synergy, and build diversified income streams from their content, knowledge, ideas, and literary and business skills.

Authors of practical nonfiction will be able to benefit more from these opportunities than storytellers, but you’re only limited by your imagination. More chances to profit from your work will emerge as technology and your career develop. There are more than fifty ideas here, and following what authors in your field are doing will spark more ideas.


  • A Book

* Revisions and new editions of the book

* An illustrated version of the book

* A series of books, stand-alones or sequels, that sell each other

* Young adult, middle grade, and children’s versions of an adult book

* Adapting a book for woman into a book for men

* Adapting a book about one city, state, country, or profession to others

* Adapting a general how-to book into books for different professions

  • Articles and short stories
  • Collections of short work
  • Article syndication
  • Column syndication
  • Forewords
  • A newsletter that has advertising and promotes what you offer
  • Advertising on your blog/website
  • Ghostwriting
  • Advertising
  • Media releases and other publicity materials
  • Editing

Subsidiary Rights

  • eBooks
  • Audiobooks
  • Movies
  • Screenplays
  • Video Games
  • Foreign rights
  • Merchandising
  • Plays
  • DVDs
  • Television series
  • Downloadable templates


  • Paid talks that last from thirty minutes to a week for

* corporations

* nonprofits

* conferences

* conventions

* schools and colleges

that will either buy books from you, your publisher, or a local bookseller to sell or give away

  •  Free talks for

* libraries

* service organizations

* churches

* professional and trade organizations

* alumni associations

* academic or trade-show conferences

at which you can sell books, products, and services

  •  Audios of talks
  • Videos of talks
  • Coaching
  • Consulting
  • Teaching

* your subject or about the kind of books you write

* about writing and publishing

* about editing

* about research

* about promotion

* how to create a website

* how to use social media

* how to make videos and book trailers

* how to make podcasts

  • Teleseminars
  • Webinars
  • Training
  • Speaking at conferences
  • Putting on live conferences
  • Putting on online conferences
  • Retreats that last from a weekend to a week
  • Being a corporate spokesperson
  • Facilitating a critique group
  • Facilitating a book club


  • Always bringing books to sell at every opportunity
  • Giving discounts for multiple books
  • Bundling books, products and/or services at a discount
  • Subscription for a membership in your organization
  • Using your website to sell products and services
  • Merchandising (cups, T-shirts, calendars, etc.)
  • Selling products and services through ecommerce sites
  • Selling books, products and services at events
  • Selling books in bulk
  • Tours of places in your books
  • A business or nonprofit institute based on your ideas
  • Having local businesses sell your book
  • Using your email list to sell products and services
  • Selling other people’s products and services that relate to your book
  • Selling your books in catalogs
  • Renting your email list

Helping me add what I left out will lengthen the list.


The goal of the blog is to help us both understand writing and publishing.

Questions and comments most welcome.

The 6th San Francisco Writing for Change Conference / Changing the World One Book at a Time

September, 6th, 2014 / www.sfwritingforchange.org / sfwriterscon@aol.com

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 / sfwriterscon@aol.com / Mike’s blog: http://sfwriters.info/blog

Keynoter:  Yiyun Li

@SFWC / www.facebook.com/SanFranciscoWritersConference

Michael Larsen-Elizabeth Pomada Literary Agents / Helping Writers Launch Careers Since 1972

larsenpoma@aol.com / www.larsenpomada.com / 415-673-0939 /1029 Jones Street / San Francisco, 94109