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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.

Video: Secrets to Social Media Success

I’ve become so fanatical about using Social Media and integrating it into everything I do – especially PR! – that people at work have given me the moniker, “The Self Proclaimed King of Social Media.”

And it’s working! Lately I have been getting asked at least once a week to present to various groups on my Social Media strategies due to the massive success we’re having with it. (Especially in the Labor Union world, which is where my day job resides.) FYI this presentation was made using Prezi – completely free and something you can do entirely online.

In the video below, I spend 40 minutes sharing every trick, tip and tactic I’ve learned the past few years when it comes to using Social Media to engage clients/customers, impact a situation/negotiations, drive mainstream media coverage and shape public opinion. The situations that happened to me during the largest nursing strike in U.S. history last summer also provide great “real-life” examples/case studies for why the tactics I’ve learned at the feet of masters like this guy and this guy work so well.

It’s long, but I promise worth your time to watch.

Question: Anything important I left out? What would you add to the presentation?

Strike! How to successfully utilize Facebook and Twitter during a Live Event

Make sure your voice is heard - loud and clear - during a Live event!

(Note: If you prefer, I also have this entire post available as a downloadable PDF over my my SlideShare page.)

Background: On June 10, 2010, more than 12,000 Minnesota RNs conducted the largest nursing strike in U.S. history. Below are the strategies we used and (more important) the lessons we learned using Social Media during an emotional, action-packed 24 hours:

  • Dedicate someone full-time the day of the event to monitor, curate and edit content being shared on your Facebook Fan Page. This person should be engaging, responding, commenting and helping users on the page. That means being parked in front of your screen ALL DAY, constantly refreshing the page, sharing new content and updates, answering questions, solving problems, etc.
  • Make sure your Facebook Fan Page settings are such that anyone can easily upload and share their photos/videos without needing approval first. (This is obviously why you also need someone monitoring the page in real-time on your end as well.)
  • Put out encouraging posts throughout the day asking people to take photos and videos on their phones and upload to the Fan page. Make specific asks.
  • Ask your online supporters (in our case, it was other unions, other association members around the state, political allies, etc.) to help Retweet your most compelling content on Twitter, and to do the same on their individual FB pages. You also want to ask these online supporters to point their unique audience(s) to your Facebook fan page and the Twitter feed.
  • On Twitter, create a hash tag that’s easy to remember (in our case, #RNStrike would work fine) and encourage everyone to use it online so you can curate and collect relevant Tweets.
  • Have people in the field (i.e. your staff) who are responsible for feeding you photos/videos/updates in real-time. That means shooting stuff on their mobile phones/iPads/etc. and then e-mailing or texting you the content back at the office so you can compile it and upload it as it comes in. Better yet, if you trust their judgment enough, have them just directly upload and share photos/videos/updates to the FB fan page.
  • Alert the mainstream media ahead of time via press releases/e-mails/etc. that you will be carrying real-time, live updates from people on the front lines via your Facebook page. As a result, the media may end up featuring or even quoting what shows up on your Facebook page (good, bad or ugly). Be ready for that. You can’t control every negative post, and some of them might just show up on the evening news. Journalists are always going to look to balance the story with the opposing viewpoint, especially if it comes from within your own camp. Accept this and move on.
  • Whatever you do, do NOT delete critical posts that show up on your page. Instead respond right away to critics in a calm, reasonable and professional tone. This lends major credibility to your page and lets the online “peanut gallery” watching know that you’re open to constructive dialogue and can agree to disagree in a professional and respectful manner. Remember, not every single one of your members/fans will share the company line as things unfold. Let those people (especially if they are a member of your organization!) have their say, and engage with them. Try to win them over. Try and turn those critics into supporters. Use respect, charm and intelligent dialogue. Don’t browbeat or condemn them. And if all else fails, politely agree to disagree and move on. Nothing backfires on you more quickly than trying to censor or silence critics (especially if they belong to your organization) online.
  • Use Google News and other tools to search for real-time Blog posts and mainstream media coverage the day of the event. Grab those links and share them on your Facebook page. Include some color and context with each posting. For example, you can do a status update like this: “Here’s the latest L.A. Times story posted online regarding today’s strike. Nurses, you are making history!”
  • Install the Facebook UStream App on the left side of your Facebook Fan Page (if you haven’t already) so that people can easily click over and watch live streaming from the picket lines or the event itself. Make sure you put on your UStream channel page a schedule of when/where the live streaming is going to happen so people know when to tune in. (The “upcoming events” you enter on your UStream channel page will automatically show up in the UStream App on your Facebook Fan Page.)
  • Use a tool like HootSuite or TweetDeck to schedule some Tweets in advance that share the URL for the Live Stream or other key events that are happening during the day that you want to point people to online.
  • Buy some Facebook ads in advance of the event. Target the specific communities (you can even do this by zip code!) you’ll be holding the event in. In our case, we’d want to have the ad point to our Facebook Fan Page. We’d also be asking the people in those communities to support their local nurses on the day of the strike.
  • If things are slow, throw out a post now and then asking for people on the picket lines or at the event to share their observations, comments, photos and videos. What’s the mood like on the ground? Has the public been supportive? What type of shoes did you wear today? Any funny stories or conversations you overheard? Any celebrities show up? Media coverage? What’s it like? How are you feeling?
  • Rather than just barfing up content onto your page as fast as you can, try to add some color/perspective/explanation to posts going up. If content is posted from an outside source without any explanation, be the first one to comment on the story. Use that space to add explanation/context/color as needed.
  • Try and build momentum with each post. In our case, we’d want to tell our nurses they are making history and that the whole world is literally watching and wanting to hear their story from the front lines. Then encourage them to share, share, share! We want to build a sense of drama, a sense of urgency, and create what becomes a tidal wave of posts and Tweets about the event/strike. In Social Media, nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd!
  • With Twitter, use HootSuite, TweetDeck or another monitoring tool to track the stream of Tweets connected to your event. Set up a few different ongoing searches using keywords from your event (in our case it would be terms like “Nurses,” “Strike,” etc.) along with the official hash tag (#RNStrike) and variations you think others might use (#NursesStrike, #RNProtest, #MNNurses, etc.)
  • Engage and respond right away on Twitter. When you see cranky Tweets from neighbors complaining about disruption in the area or rude behavior by your people on the ground, apologize on behalf of those people and give an explanation if you can. Include helpful links aimed at solving the problem if it’s applicable. (Maybe alternate traffic maps/routes for that day, for instance.) Don’t ignore critics. Instead, engage them. Try to win them over. And if that doesn’t work, be polite and move on. Remember, the peanut gallery is always watching to see how you handle yourself and represent your organization online!
  • Make sure you RT the best Tweets as things unfold. Especially if those Tweets are coming from a journalist, politician, celebrity or other key influencer. Doing this shows your followers (including those on the ground looking at their cell phones as they participate) just how big of a deal this is.
  • Send the people participating in the upcoming live event an e-mail ahead of time. Include your Facebook URL and a brief pep talk about why it’s so important for them to snap photos and videos and share their thoughts on your page. Also include the Twitter hash tag (like #RNStrike) to include, and make sure you’ve already begun populating that hash tag with some Tweets about the upcoming live event so people get the idea of what it will look like.
  • As you go along, make sure your “Favorite” the best Tweets and keep screen shots of the best Facebook posts from the day. Do the same with videos and photos, because chances are you’re going to want to do an event wrap up/review at some point later on.

For more tips/lessons learned, I’ve also created these resources:

What every self-published author needs to know in 2011

  • I love this post (shown above) from Seth Godin at his new Domino Project.
  • I love this advice he offers in another post: “Traditional media is all about interrupting strangers. Modern media (including modern bookselling) is focused on building a tribe, earning permission and then creating products and services for that audience.”
  • I’ve been doing self-publishing in one form or another since 2004 or so, and I’m re-engergized, because the game has changed – again. In the mid-2000s it was the advent of self-publishing Web sites like CreateSpace and Lulu. In 2011, it’s the fact that we can create and upload an entire book – at no cost – and then sell it for pure profit via e-readers like Amazon’s Kindle, Apple’s iPad, and other devices. (John Locke has mastered this formula!)
  • I keep hearing smart guys like Gary Vaynerchuk, Seth Godin and Kindle sales superstar Locke saying the same thing over and over again – Find your audience, cultivate a meaningful, trusting relationship with it online and then, when you’re ready to sell your idea/book/product, they’ll respond. And not only will they respond, but if your idea/book/product is really good, they’ll tell all their friends! Your friends will be your sales force.
  • These are amazing times for authors. And I wouldn’t want to be a big publishing house right now. Because their dominance in the book marketplace is waning by the day. I don’t think they’ll ever disappear entirely, but their days as power players are seriously numbered.
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