Thursday, April 19, 2012

Finding Your Way Through the Publishing Forest: Why Bash Through the Jungle When There’s A Perfectly Good Trail?

I have this sense of a forest. And I’ve been bashing my way through it for a couple of decades, one way or another. I feel as though, in many ways, I’ve made a trail. These days, at least, when I look down, I can actually see my feet. That wasn’t always the case. That trail? I’d swear there were times it had kudzu all over it when I began. Now I can walk without stumbling, most of the time. I can set off and expect I’ll get where I want to go.

So I feel sometimes as though all of these roads have led me right here, to where I’m standing now. I go to parties, to events and when I meet people for the first time and they hear what I do, it seems that -- almost without exception -- their eyes light up and they begin to ask me questions. Some of them have a book inside them, that’s how it seems to me. I can almost see it as they speak. There is a glimmer -- and sometimes more than that -- not necessarily of story, but of sharing in a meaningful way. And they have the feeling that I have some kind of key.

And “book” in this instance is a broad term. In some cases, it’s a novel. In others it’s the collective wisdom of a lifetime of learning and sharing. A treatise, then, on the expertise accumulated in a specialized field. In others it’s a private, personal memoir and the final audience in mind is a select and chosen few. In all cases, there are questions and, for the most part, the answers are available. Most of the time, they’re not very far away.

To add to the confusion, the excitement and the general noise, at present the publishing industry is changing so quickly, sometimes it seems the answers are different from one week to the next. Even more alarming: in a very few cases, there are no available answers at all. In those times, especially, the comfortable bed of an adult lifetime’s worth of study is useful; reassuring. Everyone has questions, sure. But almost a whole career of observation and participation has equipped me to futurize about as well as anyone. And over the past ten years or so I’ve discovered that my best guesses tend to be pretty good.

So what do you with all of that? In my case, I’ve gotten together with a few likeminded and geared individuals and created the Publishing Success Network. We anticipate a series of seminars, workshops and perhaps even retreats and books geared on all of the big questions that most outfits don’t even try to answer. Twenty-first century publishing questions, I guess is what I’m saying. Whether to approach an agent or a publisher or go it on your own. Should you hire an editor? Should it be an e-book? And, if so or if not, how to build a distribution network. Are books judged by their cover? If so, what do you need to know about what’s appropriate for each type of book? How should you choose and work with a designer? And social media, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and beyond: where to begin and where -- and if -- to draw lines. So much more. An almost bottomless chasm of more, it seems. And when someone asks a question, it delights and surprises me when I discover the answer very near by!

If you want to see more about the Publishing Success Network, it’s here.

1 comment:

j said...

Must lose stockphoto on the PSN home page...But otherwise it sounds interesting. Sort of the SFU publishing workshop for people who actually want to sell books.

Cool