If you think you’re just in the writing or the publishing business, prepare for poverty and obscurity. If you want to be a successful writer in the Digital Age, you have to be in six businesses:
1. The content business. You have to create content of different kinds and lengths for different media. More than ever, social media makes content king, the king of hearts because it can make readers so passionate about your work they tell everyone they know to read it. So you’re only as good as your content. When you consistently produce effective content, you trump the king by being the ace, the ace of diamonds.
2. The entertainment business. Bestselling author John Naisbitt once said that communication is entertainment, and if you don’t understand that, you’re not going to communicate. Whether you want your work to be inspiring, enlightening, moving, or humorous, your work has to have maximum impact.
Your readers are voting with their eyes and fingertips, and every word you write is an audition for the next word. Only your community of knowledgeable, representative readers can vouch for your judgment that every word is right, and that your work achieves your literary goals for it.
3. The communication business. Unless your work goes viral, assume it will take seven-to-ten mentions of it to convince readers who don’t know about you to try it. So you have to share your passion for the value of your work in as many ways and places, as often as you can, while you’re making fans who help you.
4. The technology business. Technology gives you astonishing power to produce, publish, and promote your work. It also forces you to reinvent yourself as a technophile, a lifelong learner about using technology to make every aspect of your work more effective.
5. The business of business. You have to be an entrepreneur, CEO of your own multimedia, multinational conglomerate. You have to balance yin and yang; think like merchant as well as an artist, balancing what you want to do with what you need to do to ensure your livelihood.
You also have to be a contentpreneur by taking advantage of the growing opportunities you have for generating, promoting, and repurposing your work, and building your communities.
6. The community business. Other than writing, you don’t have to do any of this alone. In fact, you can’t run any of these businesses alone. You have to enlist the people you need to succeed: fans and professionals in these communities who will help you because they know, like, and trust you. You can maintain enduring win-win relationships with them by serving them as often and well as you can. Reciprocity is the queen of hearts.
Another community we’re part of is the human family. Gaia sustains the global village on this gorgeous orb. We have to help maintain this miracle by making the effects of our actions on people, the planet, and profit the criteria for how we live.
Filling the Screen
This is the most amazing time to be writer. The greatest opportunity writers have is a blank screen. You will create your future with your fingertips. Writing and building relationships will be a great adventure. It will bring you fans who love your work, friendships with people around the world, and the fulfillment of your literary and publishing goals. And in case it isn’t obvious, you need these five communities no matter what business you’re in.
(Unless, of course, you’re a turkey.)
The goal of the blog is to help us both understand writing and publishing.
Questions and comments most welcome.
The 11th San Francisco Writers Conference & Open Classes
A Celebration of Craft, Commerce & Community
Keynoters: Chitra Divakaruni and Barry Eisler
The 6th San Francisco Writing for Change Conference / Changing the World One Book at a Time
Michael Larsen-Elizabeth Pomada Literary Agents / Helping Writers Launch Careers Since 1972