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

 

You and “We the People:” A Revolutionary Idea for Writers

“One useless man is called a disgrace, two are called a law firm, and three or more become a congress.”

–John Adams in the musical 1776

“In a democracy, the most important office is the office of citizen.”

–Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis

The signing of the Declaration of Independence is worth celebrating. Independence Day gives us the chance to reflect on how the Declaration came about, its revolutionary vision of America, and our role in keeping its ideals alive. Here are two viewing suggestions to help celebrate America’s birthday:

The first is a talk by John Perkins, author of Hoodwinked: An Economic Hit Man Reveals Why the World Financial Markets Imploded and What We Need to Do to Remake Them. You will find it at www.c-spanvideo.org. Perkins wrote that, despite corporate bribes and paralyzing partisanship, we can determine our future.

When people believe there’s nothing more to struggle for and just enjoy in the fruits of the struggle that made them possible, the revolution won is lost. The only victory in a revolution is won by the endless struggle to keep its ideals alive.

Man-made problems, self-interest, poverty, technology, climate change, clashing beliefs, the  abuse of power, and huge worldwide problems threaten our future with growing urgency.  But as Benjamin Franklin warned, if we don’t hang together, we’ll hang separately.

America can only overcome the challenges it faces if we the people keep striving to fulfill the Declaration’s dream of a free, independent, thriving country that makes the compromises needed to balance contrary beliefs. That’s one lesson from the funny, moving, timeless musical, 1776, Elizabeth and I watch on the 4th on Turner Classic Movies. 1776 offers timeless wisdom we ignore at our peril.

In his talk, Perkins asked his audience to do one thing every day to make the world better. Thanks to technology, writers have a greater opportunity than ever, not just to make a living but to make a difference. It’s easier than ever for the right idea and the right book to change the world, and the Web puts the world at your fingertips.

Perkins said that when Rachel Carson wrote The Silent Spring, she had no idea she was writing a bestselling classic that would rid the world of DDT and start the environmental movement. Whether you write fiction, nonfiction, or poetry, your passion and your gift for portraying the challenges we face and how to solve them will make a difference. Time will tell how big a difference your words will make, but the more writers who tackle the issues, the greater their impact will be.

So write your own declaration of independence from whatever is preventing you from writing what is best in you for whatever is best in your readers. Free yourself from beliefs, habits, and people that waste your resources and prevent you from being the best, most creative and productive writer that only you can be.

Liberating yourself will be something to celebrate every day. Wherever this finds you in developing your craft and your career, let Anne Frank’s words inspire you: “It’s never too late to start doing the right thing.” I hope the 4th sets off fireworks in your imagination.

 

4 Lessons from Amazon Writers Need to Succeed

Amazon revolutionized bookselling by integrating pricing, selection, convenience, innovation, and customer-centricity. Here’s how you can adapt Amazon’s strengths to become a successful writer:

1.     Be reader-centric.

  • Write what your readers want to read.
  • Take the time and get the help you need to ensure your work is ready.
  • Test-market your work so you can publish it with pride and confidence.
  • Serve your readers, online and off, in as many ways as you can.
  • Make an ever-growing selection of your work available in as many forms, media and countries as you can, along with your other products and services.
  • Keep learning from your readers and other authors. Ask them how you can improve every aspect of what you do.
  • Mindshare is more important than market share. Readers are more important than profit.
  • Be flexible in balancing profit and building a community of readers in pricing your work.
  • Reward faithful readers and those who make suggestions for improvements.

 2.     Innovate.

  •  Adapt what you write and how you communicate to whatever is working best in the marketplace.
  • Have a community of techies who help you keep your technology up to date and provide ideas for innovations.
  • At a time of accelerating change, be prepared to change whenever the benefits of changing outweigh the hassles of doing it

3.     Be convenient.

  •  Make it easy for readers to communicate with you and buy your work.
  • Make it easy for the media and those who need speakers to find you and the information they need from you.

 4.     Hold off on drones for now.

For Amazon, the cost of success is being a frenemy: writers’ and publishers’ biggest customer and an evil empire out to destroy booksellers and publishers. It’s nothing personal, strictly business, and as Jeff Bezos has predicted, Amazon will be disrupted by the next retail revolution. Hope you succeed in ways that you can tell your kids about.

 What did I leave out?

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 @SFWC / www.facebook.com/SanFranciscoWritersConference

Keynoter:  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

 

 

 

 

Why a Powerocracy is Winning World War III and How Writers Can Help Save the World

Whoever has any authority over you, no matter how small, will attempt to use it.

–Quigley’s Law

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.    

–Barack Obama

World War III started in the eighties. Not a shot was fired, so no one noticed. A Pocracy (that’s short for Powerocracy and suggests the gap between its words and actions) silently declared war on people and the planet. After three decades, the Pocracy–a borderless, international assortment of individuals, businesses, governments, and institutions that act independently yet increasingly control our lives–is winning.

Only a worldwide movement of tech-enabled citizens, collaborating to save their rights, their communities, their country, and the environment, can save us. If the resistance to the Pocracy doesn’t make itself felt by the end of the decade, it may be too late.

The War is the inevitable consequence of the quest for order, efficiency, growth, control, power, and money. Technology became the engine that enabled business, government at all levels, religion, nonprofits, the media, the military, and individual influencers to become the Pocracy.

Speaking Truth to Power

The Pocracy’s members first gained support by providing solutions to problems. But power corrupts. That’s the human condition. Now members are concerned more with their own agendas than what is best for the human family and the planet. Because of their power, willingness to collaborate–even with competitors–the Pocracy has become the biggest problem humanity faces. The cumulative effects of the War are growing rapidly, and these tragedies will continue to worsen, unless those who care act.

Because power corrupts at all levels of organizations from local to international, the real enemy we face is power–the power of position, money, time, size, secrecy, belief, ignorance, prejudice, family, the tribe, tradition, the media, marketing, consumerism, inertia, and short-term thinking. The unimpeded growth of the Pocracy makes it increasingly difficult to prevent its members from controlling humanity instead of serving it.

One sign of the problem: patriotism becomes treason. As Edward Snowden said in December, “I am still working for the NSA right now. They are only ones who don’t realize it.” 

Members of the Pocracy have their own onerous, complex set of growing challenges. They can’t provide a vision of our problems, let alone solutions.  Only a bottom-up movement can convince the Pocracy and their employees that serving the common good is in their long-range interest.

Peace is the Way

Force can’t bring about the changes we need. The movement needs to embrace the principles and practices of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nelson Mandela, and be further empowered by creativity, innovation, technology, and scalability. Because means affect ends, we need to balance passion for our ends with compassion while striving for them.

The millions of people who work for the Pocracy are our friends, colleagues and members of our family. They are potential allies who have gone or been led astray. Most believe they are doing the right thing. But our shared nature and fate bind us far more tightly than what separates us.

The Pocracy needs to make the short- and long-term effects of their actions on people, their communities, and the planet transparent more important than growth or profit. Its members need to be accountable to a local or international court of law, based on an enforceable International Bill of Rights (www.internationalbillofrights.org). The court’s judgments need to be swift enough and the cost of transgressions certain and great enough to prevent them. But courts need to make ensuring justice more important than following the letter of the law.

Decision-making needs to be an open, collective, expeditious process. But when change is rapid, disruptive, and unpredictable, decisions need to be monitored and revised as needed. This requires the perpetual scrutiny of media not dependent on advertising or the beliefs of their ownership.

Making Change Possible

Change will come from a mobilized grass roots.

–Barack Obama, Dreams from my Father

The movement needs to overcome the Pocracy’s resistance to change and its effects members’ power or profit. The world needs the benefits the Pocracy provides, and businesses deserve to make a fair profit. The challenge is to focus members’ efforts on what will serve them, us, and the world in a sustainable way.

People who can exercise the power of the ballot need to:

  • Find and elect representatives with no interest in wielding power who are more concerned about their constituencies than themselves
  • Elect officials for as short a period of time as possible
  • Make finding and preparing their successors a continuing process

 Writers and other independent media people have to communicate unbiased, compelling visions of problems and solutions. They are essential voices of change that give their audiences the facts, vision, guidance, and inspiration they need to work together. The goal of the San Francisco Writing for Change Conference (www.sfwritingforchange.org) is to empower writers to become change agents.

 Mobile devices, the organizing tool for the movement, will enable it to maximize its worldwide potential for communication, creativity, community, and collaboration. The movement will only prevail if it is eternally vigilant and makes monitoring and renewing itself an integral, continuing part of how it functions.

 How the Movement Will Succeed

 The movement needs to generate momentum from the bottom up. The challenges it will face are to enable the world to:

  • Abandon individual and collective beliefs that don’t serve the good of humanity. As New York Times columnist Mark Bittman said of food: “If it’s good for us, it’s good for the planet.”
  • Agree on the magnitude and threat of the problems
  • Enlist the support of the Pocracy and its workers
  • Harness the world’s wisdom, knowledge, creativity, innovation, and skills to find solutions
  • Give individuals and organizations enough power to be effective, but not enough to be corrupted
  • Carry them out while–as a United Nations report on climate change noted–“managing the unavoidable and avoiding the unmanageable”
  • Celebrate victories to help sustain the movement’s hope, spirit and momentum 

 The United States is the logical place to start the movement. Americans can be catalysts for the coming of age of the human family by beginning the collaboration needed to preserve freedom and Gaia’s global village. Winning World War III gives us the opportunity to create a new American dream for a new century with solutions that work for everyone on the planet.

 Why the Movement Will Succeed

 Nothing can stand in the way of the power of millions of voices calling for change.

–Barack Obama

 Faced with overwhelming but less daunting odds, the Founding Fathers would, for the same reasons they led the Revolution, relish the prospect of the struggle. Benjamin Franklin warned: “For surely if we do not hang together, we will most assuredly hang separately.” We must find a way to reconcile our differences and care for one another and the planet, or we will suffer a catastrophic future.

            If we survive our follies, this century will prove Napoleon’s belief that, “Humanity is only limited by its imagination.” If we can think of something, achieving it  is inevitable. If the people and resources to build the movement emerge, it will succeed. Now is the time to figure out how to help.

 

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

Questions, comments, and suggestions for improvements 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  

The 11th San Francisco Writers Conference  & Open Classes

A Celebration of Craft, Commerce & Community 

February 13-16, 2014 / www.sfwriters.org / sfwriterscon@aol.com / Mike’s blog: http://sfwriters.info/blog @SFWC / www.facebook.com/SanFranciscoWritersConference

Keynoters:  Chitra Divakaruni, Barry Eisler, and Mark Coker

San Francisco Writers University / Where Writers Meet and You Learn / free classes / www.sfwritersu.com / sfwritersu@gmail.com / @SFWritersU  

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

 

 

 

What Business Are You In? (It’s not writing or publishing.)

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.

Happy Thanksgiving!

(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

February 13-16, 2014 / www.sfwriters.org / sfwriterscon@aol.com / Mike’s blog: http://sfwriters.info/blog @SFWC / www.facebook.com/SanFranciscoWritersConference

Keynoters:  Chitra Divakaruni and Barry Eisler

San Francisco Writers University / Where Writers Meet and You Learn / free classes / www.sfwritersu.com / sfwritersu@gmail.com / @SFWritersU

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

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