This is the conference Keynote Address titled “How to Be an Author in a World Where Everyone Is a Writer” by Richard Nash (editor, lecturer, and award-winning publisher).
Starting off a little lofty, quite frankly, with a slide that says The Business of Writing and the Psychohistory* of Publishing.” And then there’s a definition of “psychohistory.”
Now he’s going back 500 years to talk about the business of writing, when he says that so few people were literate that writers were heavily in demand. Unfortunately, this audience was highly charged after the agent session and all during lunch. But this fellow is losing folks very quickly as I look around the room.
Now he’s at the point where writing isn’t such an easy way to make a living (because of the printing press invention).
What he’s calling “Writing 3.0” came in 1985 due to the invention of the PageMaker, which led to the “desktop publishing revolution.”
In 1990, 25,000 books were published in the U.S. Last year there were one million (exclusive of online publishing).
“The 20th century was about sorting out supply …”
“The 21st century will be about sorting out demand …”
Now he’s talking about Netflix, and I’m sure he’s drawing a meaningful connection …
But now there’s a picture of Oprah up on the screen. “Oprah needs books/the publishing industry more than the publishing industry/books need Oprah.” How to reach her audience outside of her show? That was the original intention of her book club. Speaks to the power of books when in competition with TV, movies, iPods, sex … Books get inside peoples’ heads for around fifteen hours–powerful form of social connection.
(I see a lot of people working on their agent pitches as I look around the room … and I guess I’ve been drifting a bit myself …)
Well, now he’s starting to be entertaining. He’s talking about the bad business model of sending rejection notices to writers sending unsolicited queries, who have always, in fact, been the best customers (aka readers) of agents, editors, and publishers. He said, “Imagine if you went into a bar and restaurant because you liked their food and service and then the manager gave you a rejection notice. (Sort of a good point, and I’ll be interested to see how he ends up addressing the reality of over-the-transom submissions and the subsequent rejections.)
New Slide: “The Business of Writing is business of reading. So, how am I to be an author in a world where everyone is a writer? By being a reader in a world where everyone is a writer …”
Well, that was it. Now he’s finished and is about to take questions.
A woman just asked him what his rejection letter looks like now that he has his own publishing company. He says he’s not sure–still working that out.
All-righty then. Think I’m done with this nice fellow. Next I’ll be attending another panel on e-publishing and multimedia options. Will put that session under a separate post. See you shortly.