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Why Literary Agents and Publishers Won’t Have A Job Soon

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I found this story from CNET a helpful explainer on the whole e-book pricing saga going on right now in the publishing industry.

Here’s the bad news: In a few more years (or maybe even sooner), authors large and small, new and old, are going to wake up and realize they don’t need anyone in the publishing industry anymore.

Popular authors with huge followings no longer need outside marketing/PR clout or help with distribution channels – they’re audience is already built in, and (literally) anyone can now write, upload and sell a book on his or her own. Print books are nearly dead – e-reader sales of products like Kindle and iPad are soaring along with e-book purchases. And why wouldn’t they? Imagine literally carrying hundreds of books in the palm of your hand, having the ability to highlight, bookmark, take notes in the margins, increase or decrease the font size, read in the dark … the advantages of e-readers go on and on.

So if you’re a big author, why not just write the book, publish it yourself (it is literally as easy as cutting and pasting text into Apple’s iBooks Author or importing a PDF file), upload it to the iBookstore and set your own price, keeping 100 percent of the author royalties for yourself? Or use CreateSpace or another free site to create and upload a Kindle-friendly version of your new book?

For new authors, there’s literally no cost (other than time) for you to engage with people on social media, build a following, write a book, copy and paste it into iBooks Author on a Macintosh and then sell it for whatever price you want.

You build your audience. You write the book. You upload the book. You sell the book. You keep all the profits.

The entry barrier to becoming a published author has never been easier. In fact, it can’t get any easier.

That’s great news – unless your still working as a Literary Agent or Publisher.

Six “Sticky” Tips for PR/Marketing Success

Just started reading Made to Stick and have to say its 6 Principles make for a great PR/Marketing/Social Media strategy:

SIMPLICITY: Proverbs are ideal – a one-sentence statement so profound that an individual could spend a lifetime learning to follow it.

UNEXPECTEDNESS: Violate people’s expectations/be counterintuitive. Generate interest and curiosity.

CONCRETENESS: Explain in terms of human actions and/or sensory information. (NOT abstract concepts!) Example: Ice-filled bathtubs, apples with razors. Use concrete language.

CREDIBILITY: Idea has to carry its own credentials. “Ask yourself if you are better off today than you were four years ago.”

EMOTIONS: Make them feel something. We are wired to feel things for people, not abstractions.

STORIES: To get people to act on your idea, tell a story.

SEO Tips with TopRankBlog Expert Lee Odden

Had a great – and lengthy – discussion recently with SEO Expert Lee Odden that covered a ton of fertile ground related to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), PR/Marketing and more.

Some of the topics we hit on include:

It’s a long but worthwhile discussion – hope you find it as useful/informative as I did, and thanks again to Lee for the time and insight!

Exclusive Video: Bestselling Author David Meerman Scott talks Newsjacking Book

USA Today and Wall St. Journal Bestselling Author David Meerman Scott was gracious enough to join one of our PR/JOUR Google+ Hangouts to talk about his new e-book, Newsjacking. It’s an often fascinating, sometimes controversial and always fun topic for journalists and PR pros alike to consider. Grab the book – which is a fast, breezy read – on your Kindle or iPad and then watch our interview below to hear more about what could be the big PR/Marketing trend of 2012.

Video:

What every business/brand ought to know about Social Media in 2011

Do you really understand just how powerful consumers are in 2011?

Best-selling PR and Marketing author/blogger David Meerman Scott recently penned a post that called out some serious marketing hypocrisy by a famous Washington, D.C., hotel.

What I want to focus on is how this post should remind all of us:

  1. How much more power you and I have today as consumers.
  2. Why businesses/brands cannot afford to ignore engaging with us – in real-time – using Social Media.

Think about this:

  • In 1981, David could have shared his negative experience with some friends over dinner.
  • In 2001, he could have sent out a group e-mail to some friends and supporters.
  • In 2011, he Blogs/Tweets/Google+/Facebooks/YouTubes and potentially reaches millions of people around the world (at least some of whom might be contemplating where to stay on their upcoming trip to Washington, D.C.) in real-time. David’s post lives on forever, and (depending on how often it is shared online) could end up near the top of the Google Search rankings for this hotel.

Even though David’s complaint is more about marketing hypocrisy than poor customer service, the point is the same: Brands and companies have NO CHOICE but to monitor and engage with consumers using Social Media in real-time.

To ignore or delay your response to a post like David’s puts the long-term financial well-being of your product or service at risk.

There are new rules in play. Small town rules. Ignore them at your own risk!

Words to Live By

“You determine a man’s greatness by what it takes to discourage him.” – Rick Warren

Why Literary Agents should start looking for a new line of work (fast)

Should Literary Agent Rachelle Gardner worry her profession's days are numbered?

Literary Agent Rachelle Gardner recently posted what seemed like a simple question on her Blog:

“What is the most important thing you expect from a literary agent?”

I’ve had disagreements on Twitter with publishing icons like Michael Hyatt regarding what I’m about to say, but I still think I’m in the right on this:

In today’s world, I need a literary agent to sell ME on why I should use him or her – not the other way around.

Why? Well, it’s 2011. In book publishing, down is the new up. Authors no longer have to plead like disheveled beggars outside the e-mail inboxes of literary agents and publishers for someone to notice their work.

Here’s why:

  • Self-publishing and selling your own book at virtually no cost to yourself is easier than ever thanks to sites like CreateSpace and Lulu.
  • The emergence of e-books and e-readers like the Kindle and iPad has started pushing “traditional” book sales off a cliff.
  • “Nobodies” like John Locke (who sold 1 million e-books in 5 months) have shown us the blueprint for self-publishing success. (FYI, it includes pricing and – most important – building and growing a thriving Social Network of supporters, fans and brand evangelists.)
  • Unless you’re already a huge name like Stephen King, an author must handle all of his or her own marketing and PR efforts. In fact, literary agents and publishers now expect an author to come to the table having already established a selling platform and a thriving online network of Twitter followers, Facebook fans and the like.

Since authors already do all the work selling our books to readers, why split the royalties with a literary agent and/or traditional publisher?

The ONLY advantage I see in using an agent and/or traditional publishing house is large-scale distribution of a project into brick-and-mortar bookstores. But so what? Those places are dying a hasty death (remember Borders?) and won’t be around much longer. In addition, most standard publishing contracts only net the author $1.00 to $2.00 per book sold. Why not just self-publish and sell your project as an e-book for $2.99, keeping nearly all the profit for yourself?

(An aside: Pricing is key! Like John Locke says, if I sell my sports novel for .99 cents on Kindle and Author X’s sports novel retails for $9.99, that means Author X’s book has to be 10 times better than mine for the consumer to justify the expense. Right? Also, who won’t spend .99 cents on something even of mild interest to them in 2011? Make it $9.99, and we’re going to hesitate quite a bit more!)

I’ve worked with literary agents in the past and especially in Christian fiction. Most of my books are a tough sell because of my niche (sports fiction with a Christian theme). But I know that if I work my face off in the Social Media trenches like this guy taught me, I’ll see real results and move product.

That’s why literary agents and traditional publishers have become like landline telephones and fax machines: Once critically important to the process, they’re being pushed quickly and unceremoniously to the side.

I know we’re not all the way there yet. And maybe it won’t happen as fast as I think, but it will happen. That’s just fact.

You’re Fired: Why all the talent in the world and outstanding performance reviews won’t save your job

Hint: Unlike me, read this book BEFORE you get fired!

So I had coffee recently with the CEO who fired me a few years ago.

I still remember being floored at being fired. I knew I’d made a big mistake at the time after a dispute with a high-up exec (over the use of Social Media, of all things!) spilled over into a group e-mail where I let my anger get the best of me in front of the entire executive team. (FYI, Michael Hyatt has a great post about how to stop yourself from hitting “Send” after typing that angry e-mail!) Needless to say, it put my boss (the CEO) in a bad spot.

Still, I didn’t think I’d get fired over it. After all, I’d just gotten a huge raise, had racked up one outstanding performance review after another and even won a National PR Award during my most recent campaign for the organization. I thought I was bulletproof.

What amazed me even more was that a few months later, this CEO – an ultra talented, extremely hardworking and successful person, a true visionary in that industry – was canned as well. It came completely out of the blue, and made no sense in light of this executive putting together more than a decade of outstanding performance reviews, successes, awards, accolades, etc.

A few months later, at that same organization, two of its biggest rainmakers – people who were, again, ultra talented and successful, both coming off outstanding performance reviews and in fact having just received huge financial bonuses for exceeding sales goals – were fired on the same day. Totally out of the blue.

How does this kind of thing happen? Granted, you might be tempted to attribute the stories above to the thought that this was simply an aberration that happened at a single organization, but that’s not the case. It happens all the time, across all industries and in all types of of organizations. It may have even happened to you.

Now, had I read the groundbreaking book Power by Jeffrey Pfeffer back then, I believe I would have seen it all coming.

So I cannot say this strongly enough: You need to read this book!

At the very least, hop over to SlideShare and download my notes on it. “Power” is the type of book that will completely reframe how you approach your job, your career and everything else related to your professional life. It could also save your job, which needless to say is worth the price of admission (and then some) itself.

Here’s an example from the book that could have used the scenarios I described above as a case study:

Politics vs. Performance

  • People who had more political skill received higher performance evaluations and were rated as more effective leaders.
  • As long as you keep your boss or bosses happy, performance really does not matter that much and, by contrast, if you upset them, performance won’t save you.
  • One of the biggest mistakes people make is thinking that good performance – job accomplishments – is sufficient to acquire power and avoid organizational difficulties. Consequently, people leave too much to chance and fail to effectively manage their careers.
  • If you are going to create a path to power, you need to lose the idea that performance by itself is enough.
  • Research shows that job performance matters less for your evaluation than your supervisor’s commitment to and relationship with you.
  • Loyalty: CEOs tend to put loyalists in senior positions – regardless of what past incumbents have accomplished.
Needless to say, I learned an incredibly valuable (albeit painful) lesson about workplace dynamics and power after getting fired. But I believe now that it all could have been avoided had I approached my time at that organization applying the principles Pfeffer outlines in “Power.”

Have you had a similar experience? Have you seen examples of what I’m talking about? Have you read Power? Would love to hear your thoughts!

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