Book ’em, but how? The new publishing world.

August 7, 2011

This is a story of two experiences. One I had in a Starbucks in Arlington, MA this past Friday night. The other occurred this morning (Sunday) at Steve Garfield’s Boston Media Makers event. Get a cup of coffee or something stronger and sit back for a second. This post should only take you about six minutes to read and then you can get back to reading Chris Brogan’s posts or trying to put your 2000 friends into circles on Google+.

Experience 1
Arlington Starbucks. Friday night, August 5. Two women. Jeff eavesdropping. Topic – writing, copyright and the world or publishing.

The conversation went something like this – and I missed a little because I was loudly slurping my Trenta iced tea lemonade to keep from figuratively slapping both women with real information.

W1 – I want to send my article off to a magazine, but I’m worried they might steal it.

W2 – Then use the poor person’s copyright and send a copy to yourself.

W1 – That’s a great idea. I’ll do that!

JEFF (in his head) – Go ahead and do that, but you’re only wasting $.44 and paper and the environment. If you were not aware – and you’re not – any creative work, once put in a fixed format (like these electrons on this blog post or a sentence on a piece of paper) is immediately copyrighted. You own it. Done. Finished. No need to send money to the US Copyright Office unless you have serious concerns that you will make a fortune off the article or that someone else will deprive you of massive payments by stealing it. FYI – the BEST paying magazines dish out $2 per word to the BEST writers in the world. Unless you’ve written a 10,000-word article for one of these magazines, you’re likely closer to being out $.30 or less a word for your 2000-word article. That is about $600 and would put you in the fairly well paid writer realm. Freelance newspaper scribes get about $30 to $50 per story for weeklies and $150 per story for features in a daily. If you put barriers in the process, an editor is going with someone else. Just send the story in and hope they call you.

The Lessons – Publishing professionals are busy. Writing doesn’t pay well. Copyright is misunderstood.

Experience 2
Boston Media Makers. Sunday August 7. Doyle’s in Jamaica Plain. John Cass and Jeff Cutler talking. Topic – what is going on with publishers these days…we have great ideas and would like acquisitions editors to take note.

The conversation went something like this…

John – I didn’t know you wrote a book. How many is that for you?

Jeff – It’s my first published, but I’ve written others. I just haven’t worked hard enough to get editors or publishers to take note of my other stuff.

John – What have you done? Do you have names? We know a bunch of people who have written books in Social Media. Have you asked them?

Jeff – I have. I’ve emailed folks and hear nothing back. It’s a buyer’s market. Everyone wants to have a book. And everyone thinks their idea is great – even though mine is genius.

John – I’m sure it is. Maybe if we do some agile marketing and content strategy we can get these publishing folks to take note of our plight and make first contact.

Jeff – That’s a great idea. I’m on it. Let’s both write posts, link to everyone and then sit back and count our riches.

Around that point John made a sign like I was insane and walked away. But he was kind enough to write the post we agreed on. Here’s his link and below is an excerpt.

I’d like to use this post, and Jeff is going to write one on his blog on the same topic, to query social media authors about their recommendations for book publishers. Quotes can be anonymous or credited. Tell me what you found to be positive about your publisher, and please give insights on the three areas I’ve discussed above; 1) advance, 2) support, and 3) marketing.

So, how ’bout it Wiley or Inc. or whoever is helping with David Meerman Scott’s next book…do you want my proposal? I’ve got the book fleshed out and can finish it by Thanksgiving (maybe by Halloween). It’s applicable to a large audience (about 260Million people), and I’m already doing speaking gigs using information that would appear in the book. Doesn’t that sound like a pretty good, if upside-down, outreach and marketing campaign for the book?

Let’s talk. And by the way, if you have recently written a book and love your agent and/or editor, send their information along. I was serious when I said publishing folks are busy. There’s no guarantee that anyone will have alerts set up on their company name and will take the initiative to reach out to me.

If this works, I’ll use it as a case study in the book AFTER the one I’m currently pitching. How’s that for social?