Get Serious About the Business of Publishing

Why so serious? by laverrue
Why so serious? by laverrue

A book’s success is too important to entrust to somebody who doesn’t have a stake in it. Editors are already fierce enough advocates to have persuaded their bosses to let them acquire the books in the first place; why not let them keep on advocating?

–Ron Hogan, “Hey Editors! Less Max Perkins, More Billy Mays

Hogan, GalleyCat’s Senior Editor, makes a valid point — that an editor’s name should theoretically have some pull with readers — but it’s undermined by the tiresome meme that social media will be publishing’s savior, and a misguided sense of entitlement, implying that publishers are preventing editors from establishing an influential public voice of their own.

Social media are excellent tools for building personal brands — the jury’s still out on where they fit within the corporate picture — and their primary appeal is that they’re free for anyone to use. Just like authors are expected to build themselves a platform before seeking out a publishing deal, editors should be doing the exact same thing for themselves.

It’s not rocket science, it’s free, and no one’s permission is required.

No matter who your editor is, or what their influence (or lack thereof) with readers might be, though, when it comes down to it, the best, most passionate promoter of a book is going to be its author.

Hogan makes that point himself, and it’s a poignant one in this time of industry turmoil: “A book’s success is too important to entrust to somebody who doesn’t have a stake in it.”

“Consultant” is often another word for “unemployed”, and while some are legit, far too many are self-proclaimed “gurus” with limited credentials, happily taking advantage of writers with unrealistic come-ons, over-priced marketing services, and no intention of sticking around for the long haul.

There’s a whole lot of Kool-Aid being sold to the desperate and clueless, and there are a surprising number of respectable pundits drinking it themselves. As a rule, I’m always leery of the ones with no skin in the game, whose personal brand is their top proirity. Anyone can play armchair quarterback, so I tend to pay more attention to those who actually have hands-on experience in the industry: those whom have actually published a book, or had one published; or have revenue responsibilities and employees to consider when evaluating every half-baked idea and new shiny thing that comes along.

That said, I’m looking forward the new Writer’s Digest Conference that’s debuting next month in NYC, appropriately sub-titled “The Business of Getting Published”. Writing conferences are a dime a dozen, most usually focusing on basic craft, finding an agent, or getting an autograph from your favorite writers, and while they can certainly be a rewarding experience, they’re typically designed for the dreamers, not the doers.

Publishing is serious business, though, and this Conference’s focus is squarely on the doers:

Be your book’s strongest ally.

Publishing is evolving at a remarkable pace. Today’s successful authors make the most of new developments in technology and communication– and anticipate changes on the horizon. At the Writer’s Digest Conference, you’ll learn to:

•  Choose from a plethora of publishing options
•  Ramp up your visibility with an author website
•  Make a splash with a strong marketing platform
•  Expand your reach via social networking
•  Drive vigorous online book sales
•  And much more!

Full disclosure: I used to be the Advertising Sales Director for Writer’s Digest (and I still work for their parent company, F+W Media), and played a small role in the conception of this Conference last summer at a corporate summit for generating new ideas. I’m genuinely excited to see it come to fruition with an excellent program and an interesting lineup of presenters, and wholeheartedly believe it will be worth the price of admission.

What I’m most excited about, though, is that I’ll be hosting the 1st Annual Writer’s Digest Poetry Slam, one of the special events that will take place during the Conference, an idea I’d pitched half-jokingly at first, but am really glad they decided to go through with it. It will be at the Bowery Poetry Club, and it’s only open to attendees of the Conference, so as a favor/incentive, they’ve given me a special discount code that anyone can use to save $50 off the regular registration fee: GLGSlam.

If you’re serious about publishing, and want to have as much knowledge of and control over your career as a writer as possible — whether in fiction, poetry, non-fiction, or all of the above — this is the one writing conference you should definitely attend.

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2 thoughts on “Get Serious About the Business of Publishing

  1. Guy, I wish I lived stateside to come and take part in your slam!

    I saw the Galley Cat post, and seeing another mention here really does make me think editors need to recognise the massive opportunity they have now, and start being proactive about it. If I'm right about the way the industry's going, it will become flatter – with authors and their managers directly outsourcing to small specialist companies and individuals. And key amongst these specialisms is editing. There's a hop there waiting to be scored (to prepare for an apt metaphor) -is no one going to slam it? Editors have the potential to be the literary world's equivalent of producers in the music industry. They're Mark Ronson, Armand van Helden (er, I won't say Phil Spector). Even if the industry retains a little verticality, like the music industry, these people have artists queuing to work with them, and labels queuing to take what they produce.
    This should be a call to action!

  2. Indeed! The opportunity is there and the editors who seize the moment and make names for themselves will have exciting careers ahead of them, while those who chose to remain faceless, or are waiting for permission, will find themselves unemployed. It's really no different from writers or pretty much anyone else in the media business.

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