Monday, February 21, 2011

Eating Publishing Pie

Authors will love this...

I finally got a chance over the weekend to watch this video of Margaret Atwood speaking at the O'Reilly Publishing Conference. It's so great -- I ate it up. Yup, a publisher eating the publishing pie, just as Ms. Atwood suggested *smile*. Her hand-drawn cartoons and brilliant perspective made me laugh out loud. 

Here are some of my thoughts on how her talk relates to Wyatt-MacKenzie...

On publishers...  
Ms. Atwood was asked to describe the ideal relationship between a publisher and an author. Here are her five ingredients of a good publisher:

  1. Have a good editor who provides encouragement (along with great editing). Check! Thanks to Lisa Pliscou, editor extraordinaire who came to Wyatt-MacKenzie from Viking Penguin, as well as Karen Kibler our impeccable proofreader.
  2. A publisher with a reputable nameCheck! Well, in the indie world I strongly believe Wyatt-MacKenzie has grown a great publishing brand with very happy authors. We've had on-going publicity since 1999 building the Wyatt-MacKenzie name.
  3. Gives guidance. Check! I love that we've become known for helping our authors beyond their book sales to build a career. Designing author branding materials that make our authors memorable to media and book buyers is one of the parts I enjoy most. Brainstorming how to use s.w.a.g. in contests, posters in libraries, banners at events, bookmarks in bookstores, and an online presence that reflects the author and attracts her big-picture goals. Teaching authors "publicity 101" is fulfilling when they go out and reach a national audience with my encouragement.
  4. PublicizesCheck! As Ms. Atwood explains, the publicity lies on the author's shoulders -- which is why we advise and support our authors as much as possible learning: how to pitch, who to pitch, when to pitch, what to pitch, and how to be ready when the pitch works. Social media has removed lots of gates -- we provide a foundation of platform-building, a cohesive visual author brand, media preparation, and on-going creative input to publicize, document, and parlay media success. If an author wants a personal publicity assistant and social media strategist, we have Lisa Orrell, the Promote U Guru on staff too.
  5. Tell you you're wonderful every dayCheck! (with a giggle) Okay, I loved this one. While I may not do it every single day for every single author, I do try! I feel like much of my time spent over the last 13 years as a publisher (working with over 100 authors) was as... a cheerleader, a counselor, a media coach, and a business advisor. And, I believe, I provide validation for the women writers I meet (which is a way to say "you're wonderful" every day!) who work hard -- on their manuscripts, their careers, and their families -- and I believe with a great team they can all enjoy (and thrive through) the publishing and promotion process.
On self-publishing... make your own damn pie!
(That's my quote, not hers) 
Ms. Atwood spoke about an uprise of authors -- I agree whole-heartedly, having the only publishing program in the industry which puts authors in complete control (plus receive the five items above from an ideal umbrella publisher).
The Wyatt-MacKenzie Imprint Program teaches authors who decide to self-publish how to make their own great-looking, professionally packaged, delicious "publishing pie" and not only eat it all, but feel full and satisfied afterwards, inspired to make more pies, share the slices, even teach pie-making classes and give "enjoying-the-pie" lectures.
This comment of Ms. Atwood's made me laugh: "It's delusional to think an author can self-publish, get on twitter, and everyone will buy a book." In my opinion, for non-fiction that "pie" is just dessert after a great meal, or, career! It's... the closer, the upsell, the voice of your brand whispering in the ear of those you give it to until they hire you. (I know this from personal experience... email me about publishing and I'll send you a free digital copy of my book.)

On eBooks and eReaders...
Atwood made me smile again when she said, "When the lights go out you'll still be able to read a print book by candle." This said though, she owns two eReaders and uses them when traveling, and she likes having the choice. (I wish someone asked her how she feels about the format -- does she order Kindles which can be read on every device? Or, does she buy a format for each of her two eReaders, and why two? Which two?) Ms. Atwood's "solar flare" or "electromagnetic pulse" theory is right on in my eyes -- something could happen to render all these eBooks out-of-service (instead of out-of-print, haha).  

* * *

Anyway, enjoy the video!