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

Collaboration, uncertainty, & rewriting the rules 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.

This is the second in a two-part essay that lays out the framework for our new conference for authors and creators.

TOC and Publishers Weekly 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 we want to create a whole new kind of author event. “Tips & Tricks” just aren’t going to do it anymore. The subtitle “Be the Change” is telling—we think the new model is being built right now, and authors have a role to play.

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Here is the second part of the Author (R)evolution Day Manifesto (the first part is located here):

4) The publishing future is largely collaborative

Successful mainstream publishing houses will evolve, shedding legacy overhead and reforming outdated processes, but in all our talk of revolution, we are not suggesting they are going away entirely. Rather, the houses that successfully re-tool will co-exist in an ecosystem with a whole range of alternative publishing resources and workflows, and we will see a flattening of working groups and a progression away from “pipeline” thinking.

The future of publishing will see examples of collaboration everywhere—from  successful author-driven content development groups like Paper Lantern Lit, to group publishing platforms that connect teams like Net Minds, to the role of the crowd in curating content on platforms like WattPad, Pubslush, and even Kickstarter.

Even on the individual level, collaboration will mean many things. It could mean an active co-marketing relationship with a mainstream publisher where traditional roles (and decision making) will blur. Or, as Porter Anderson suggests, it could take the form of author cooperatives where artists come together to collectively hire their staff, a’la the Magnum photography collective. Or it could simply mean building a good buisness team around oneself in order to be able to write more effectively.

We don’t think authors will have to do everything themselves, nor should they. We think the future holds exciting possibilities for helping authors get into the market by working together in many innovative ways.

5) There is turbulence at the edge of the unknownhold steady

It’s important to separate the Culture of the written word from the Business of the written word. The culture of the written word is exploding—we are reading, writing, and publishing more now than at any point in human history. We think it’s very cool.

It’s the Business of the written word that is in transition. There has been a whole lot of talk recently about “The Death of Book Publishing.” We don’t believe the book business is dying, but we do believe it is changing in a very profound way.

Whenever a familiar system is changing, there is tension. We don’t know exactly what’s coming, and our imagination gets the better of us. We tend to think in catastrophic, black-and-white ways. It is much easier to imagine what will be lost than what will be gained. We’re hard wired that way.

At Author (R)evolution Day, we believe the future of the model will offer tremendous opportunities to content creators and others who want to participate. But as Andre Gide said, “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” Leading innovators will have to have a strong stomach for risk and reward, and most key-stakeholders will benefit in some way in the long run.

Hang on and breathe deep.

6) The new rules are being written right now—you are writing them

It is more than a once-in-a-lifetime shift we are seeing now. It may even be once-in-a-millenium.  What is most exciting about the transition is how accessible it is to individual creators. As Brian O’Leary recently put it “the “opportunity in abundance” will not accrue to the incumbents.”

While statements like this shake the knees of the establishment, they should offer tremendous hope to authors and others who have work they want to do. Everyone can get involved in the transformative model, and the best-practices for success are being developed right now. By you. And you. And you over there.

It’s an equal-opportunity publishing market, or at least it’s heading that way. We can argue over how much good content comes out of all that chaos (and we will), but for authors and content creators, we haven’t had this kind of open marketplace for several hundred years here in the US.

In order to take advantage of this “opportunity in abundance”, we need to start talking, sharing, and documenting what’s working, so we can create opportunities for content creators of all stripes to come together and report on progress.

That’s why we created Author (R)evolution Day. Won’t you join us? We think it’s going to be fun.

Viva la’ evolution!

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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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  • Dan Farnbach

    Enjoying this, Kristen.
    –Dan Farnbach

  • http://twitter.com/Cantavestrella Rosanna

    Liked your manifesto very much! It was most needed, and you’re true visionaires. By the way, we all agree the publishing world is changing upside down, so why the (R) parenthesis? Isn’t this a full revolution? More puzzling, anyway, is the ending war cry: “Viva la’ evolution!” Which language is that? Not Spanish (would be “Viva la evolución”); not French (“Vive l’évolution / Vive la révolution”). I wonder… Congratulations anyway, and the best of luck with your initiative.