Somebody Else Says: Jane Friedman at CCYW

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Yesterday, at the Capital City Young Writers conference, I heard Jane Friedman talk about publishing. Jane is a wonderful speaker, with enough energy and enthusiasm to keep the kids completely hooked in, as well as those of us non-kids who were–most likely–hoping for some golden drops of wisdom, some absolute, about the future of books.

And, of course, what Jane told us is that there is no absolute. Not today and, even if there is one down the line, nobody knows what it’s going to be. Not yet.

The cool thing was that Jane is excited, upbeat, about this. And it’s infectious. To her, it’s not scary or intimidating or worry-inspiring. It’s exhilarating and mind-whirling. It’s the amusement-park ride you want to be on.

I’m going to do my best to summarize a couple of Jane’s main points. Hopefully, if I get these wrong, she’ll stop by to correct me!

Basically, the old world order is crumbling. The power of the gatekeepers–the publishing companies–to direct readership is going away, and it’s being replaced by…us. I’ve been hearing this angle for a while now, and I’ve resisted it, because so many people come at this with a bitterness and an well-those-powermongers-deserve-it attitude, and I truly believe that publishing is NOT just made up of $-hungry greedyguts, but by many editors and book-readers who love what they’re doing and want to bring us stories we’ll like as much as they do. Really. Yesterday, Jane was able to make me see this change outside the let’s-get-revenge attitude, more as just a fact of the world, a wave that’s growing with every blog review, tweet about books, or entry at GoodReads that we each put out there. It’s just happening. And, really, those editors and book-readers are just trying to figure out what to do with it, about it, as much as we all are.

She talked about the complaint people make that all this self-publishing ease will do is put more “bad” books out there, and the worry people have about how they’ll filter through it and find the books they want to read, not to mention the thinking writers should be doing about how, once published, they’ll get their titles TO readers. They’re not going to come buy it at your website, folks, if they don’t know it’s there. Jane pointed us to this law:

 If you look up at the top end of the curve, this is the end we need to be aiming at to actually get our books read, not just published–WHETHER we publish traditionally or for ourselves. And you’ll see that the top end if narrower (don’t ask me to use mathematical-graphy terms, because that’s not going to happen), because this is the harder work to do, and fewer people will do it and get their books/sales up into that corner. It’s a goal, though! 🙂

Jane’s other big point is that we should not let ourselves be intimidated by the fact that nobody knows where this is all going. The title of her talk was (I think I’ve got this right), “We Are Experiencing Revolutionary Difficulties: Please Don’t Wait.” In other words, grab that merry-go-round ring, whichever one you’re looking at today and wondering about whether it’s worth reaching for. Don’t let fear or uncertainty stop you.

As usual, when I listen to Jane, I was thinking, Wow! That is so RIGHT. And then I was thinking, and how does this apply to me. What do I want to do with this information, this angle. I don’t actually have answers to those questions yet. Go figure. :)What I do know is that I think Jane’s absolutely on track with her attitude–that this is exciting, that we should open our ears and eyes and brains to everything that’s going on in Publishing today (yes, another item on your to-do list!), and that we should be ready, with knees bent and jumping muscles ready, to GO when we see the opportunity we want.

The best place I know to get this kind of info is Jane’s Writer’s Digest blog, There Are No Rules. If you’re not reading it yet, start. And maybe add this book she recommended to your reading pile: Here Comes Everybody, by Clay Shirky. I’m going to.

Enjoy the excitement, guys. It’s going to be here for a while!

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Somebody Else Says: Colette Vella

This is a fascinating article on agents and editors and the whole publishing-relationship world.  Thanks to Jessica Faust for the link.

http://www.meanjin.com.au/editions/volume-68-number-2-2009/article/the-changing-face-of-publishing-relationships/

Somebody Else Says: Interview with Jane Friedman

Just a quick post to link you to an interview that Tad Richards did with Jane Friedman, of Writer’s Digest. The topic is “Writers & the Recession,” something–as worrisome as it is–we should all be keeping up with. Jane doesn’t pull any punches about where she thinks publishing is going, and she always has something interesting to say.

The interview is here.

Somebody Else Says: Some Good News is Trickling In

Well, Spring is here. How do I know? Because we’re all on our allergy nasal sprays, here in this house. Because our windshields are coated with pollen every morning when we go out to drive. And, because, when I get into the car in the afternoon, it’s actually toasty and warm from the sunshine.

Usually, to be honest, at this time of year, I’m not all that excited. I don’t hate winter (probably has something to do with living in California), and I don’t like thinking too much about the hot, upcoming summer. This year, though, I seem to be welcoming spring with unexpected, um…warmth. We’re going camping sometime in the next month, and I have dreams of laying in the sun with a book, climbing up hills under blue skies, and–yes–using my nose spray!

I’m guessing this new attitude has more to do with the gray, gloomy economy of the last few months, than with any of the gray, gloomy weather.  And, so, to complement my good feelings about the brighter sunshine and warmer temps, a few tidbits of economic–if not upturn, maybe a little less downturn.

Note that I do not want this to turn into any kind of political argument about who should be doing what or where money should/should not be going. If you must go there, you must, but I won’t be joining in. This is make-nice day, here at the blog! And be forewarned–any nastiness will get deleted! 🙂

So this weekend, wake up, go outside, and smile at the sun. (Even if it’s hiding behind a few clouds!)

Somebody Else Says: Jane Lindskold

I was going to put up this great, maybe-even-profound blog about…blogging first thing this week. Then I read this post by Jane Lindskold at Tor.com and thought it was a good one to share. We can all use more info about What Happens After the Book is Written. Hop over and have a read.

Thanks to Nathan Bransford for the link.

See you in a few days for that brilliantpost on blogs!

To Worry or Write? That’s the Question

It seems like, for the past few weeks, I keep running across articles of doom and gloom. Now I know. I get it. The economy stinks. And it’s hitting everybody, no question. Including publishing.

Realistically, this is going to impact us as writers. And, realistically, I–for one–am capable of breaking into a cold sweat and spending way too many hours fretting about how, specifically, it may impact me.

But I’m not going to do that. Instead, I’m going to keep writing.

Yes, things are bad, but the economy, like everything else, goes up and down and–sometimes–in loop-de-loops. I am incapable of predicting how long this downfall will last or where I’ll be on my writing path when it’s over. For all I know, just as I finish my current revision or get the next book idea drafted, everything could be on an upswing and every publisher in the world will be wanting me as their author. (Okay, its a stretch, but if I’m dreaming, I might as well really dream.)

So I’m going to figure that there’s still a book market out there and that Publishing will survive and I will have a place in it. And I’m going to keep putting words on a page and networking with other writers and marketing my skill with words as a valuable commodity.

I’m not putting up any negative links in this post. Instead, I’m just going to share a couple of the ones that made me feel better today.

My sister, a home economist in Illinois, put this link up on Facebook. The article basically says that, when we freak out, we don’t do ourselves or the economy any good. I’m taking it as a prescription to stay sane.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/20/garden/20math.html?ex=1384923600&en=e2861f2c72869a85&ei=5124&partner=facebook&exprod=facebook

And this article shows the flip side of book sales (maybe!) going down. We all love our libraries and wish good things for them, so…

http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2008/10/16/library_use_rises_as_economy_falls/

What about you. Got any cheerful links to post about what’s happening with books and writing and how you’re dealing with the uncertainty?

Somebody Else Says: Lori Russell Interviews Jane Friedman

I thought I was done blogging for the week, but then I read this interview at Writers on the Rise. Lots of interesting thoughts on the future of media (including books!).

Thanks to Jane Friedman for posting the link on her blog.

Have a great weekend!