Author (R)evolution Day, the Manifesto (Part I)

Authors and content creators are the future of publishing

I’m Kristen McLean, the founder & CEO of Bookigee, and I’m also the co-chair of TOC’s first conference event designed especially for professional authors and content creators.

TOC and their partners like Publishers Weekly and Argo Navis wanted to create this conference because we had a growing awareness that the kinds of conversations and information we were dealing with at TOC—important conversations about the future of publishing—were not making it over the fence to the people who needed it most: the authors and creators.

We are facing a whole new publishing paradigm, and Tools of Change has set out to create a whole new kind of author event. The subtitle “Be the Change” is telling—we think the new model is being built right now, and authors have a role to play.

Welcome to Author (R)evolution Day. Here’s our manifesto:

1) Authors and content creators are the future of the publishing business

Authors and content creators are at the head of the value chain in publishing. No matter what happens in the middle of the chain—what the role of “publisher” looks like, what formats & devices come out on top, how content is acquired, who is selling it, and how readers are buying and consuming it—there is no publishing industry without great content. And there is no great content without great authors and creators making it.

We have now reached the point where the services that used to be locked up in the publishing factory—editorial, production, distribution, sales—are now available a ‘la carte in hundreds of different flavors. The abundance of choice is sometimes overwhelming to authors who have spent years navigating the labyrinthine maze of the traditional publishing market.

But it will get better as authors and content creators get access to professional tools, better data, and straight talk on what’s what in the evolving marketplace. At the TOC Author (R)evolution project, we’re committed to creating a forum for these kinds of conversations, explorations, and community-building efforts around the future of publishing. We’re not here to preserve the old model—we’re interested in helping build the new one. One that puts authors, content creators, and readers at the very center.

2) Authors are perfectly capable of writing great books, and running great businesses [at the same time]

The number one thing we hear when we talk about empowering authors is “They don’t really want it. They just want to write. They can’t do all this stuff.” And it’s not just industry gate-keepers who tell us this—sometimes it’s other authors talking about “everyone else.”

Well, we don’t believe it.

We’re seeing plenty of examples of innovative professional authors who are in charge, trying new things, experimenting with new tools, and taking a good hard look at how they want to move their career forward using all these emerging opportunities.

Just as you can’t walk before you crawl, we think the real problem is structural. Because of the way the industry has evolved, authors have been systematically out-sourcing their knowledge of the publishing chain for so long, it’s like a muscle that’s never been used.

We think there’s tremendous potential in the author and creator class to completely upend the system, but first they have to roll up their sleeves and get busy.

3) Entrepreneurialism is the new black, and curiosity is the new currency

To paraphrase Todd Sattersten,  “Every Author is an Entrepreneur” so we all need to start thinking like one. The publishing shift we see coming has most authors picking their publisher, not the other way around.

In order to be well-equipped for this new environment, we think authors and content creators need as much training in business and publishing expertise as they do in writing. They need to understand deep structural issues like the way data flows around the industry, new modes of discovery, new thinking about consumer behavior, how to read the numbers, the potential of new technology, and how to build an effective team around themselves so they can run their businesses.

This is not a panel on how to read your Facebook Analytics—we’re talking about Bootstrapping 101. Right now the mainstream part of the industry has no incentive to help authors gain these skills, because it would be subversive to their very business model. So authors are going to have to do a lot of it themselves, and we’re here to help. 



The (R)evolution won’t happen in a day, and neither will this manifesto.

The next installment of the manifesto can be found here. Join us as we launch Author (R)evolution Day. Click the button on the right to register, use the discount code AR350 and you’ll get the best price available.

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