Jane Friedman http://janefriedman.com Writing, reading, and publishing in the digital age Thu, 24 Jul 2014 21:00:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 Ebook Subscription Services: Good for Authors? [Smart Set] http://janefriedman.com/feeder/?FeederAction=clicked&feed=Articles+%28RSS2%29&seed=http%3A%2F%2Fjanefriedman.com%2F2014%2F07%2F24%2Fkindle-unlimited%2F&seed_title=Ebook+Subscription+Services%3A+Good+for+Authors%3F+%5BSmart+Set%5D http://janefriedman.com/feeder/?FeederAction=clicked&feed=Articles+%28RSS2%29&seed=http%3A%2F%2Fjanefriedman.com%2F2014%2F07%2F24%2Fkindle-unlimited%2F&seed_title=Ebook+Subscription+Services%3A+Good+for+Authors%3F+%5BSmart+Set%5D#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 09:00:47 +0000 http://janefriedman.com/?p=19783 Welcome to the weekly The Smart Set, where I share three smart pieces worth reading about the publishing and media industry. I also point to issues and questions raised, and welcome you to respond or ask your own questions in the comments. “To seek: to embrace the questions, be wary of answers.” —Terry Tempest Williams Kindle Unlimited: The Key Questions by David Gaughran […]

The post Ebook Subscription Services: Good for Authors? [Smart Set] appeared first on Jane Friedman and was written by Jane Friedman.

]]>
Smart Set

Welcome to the weekly The Smart Set, where I share three smart pieces worth reading about the publishing and media industry. I also point to issues and questions raised, and welcome you to respond or ask your own questions in the comments.

“To seek: to embrace the questions, be wary of answers.”

—Terry Tempest Williams


Kindle Unlimited: The Key Questions by David Gaughran

Novelist David Gaughran overviews Kindle Unlimited (KU), the new ebook subscription service from Amazon, and what it means for self-publishing authors. Self-pub authors who distribute exclusively through Amazon (through KDP Select) are allowed to participate in KU.

Note that traditionally published authors get paid differently and play by a different set of rules than indie authors.

The key questions Gaughran raises:

  • How much will indie authors be paid for KU borrows? It’s impossible to know right now. Also, payments for indie authors are calculated differently than for traditionally published authors.
  • Will KU cannibalize paid sales? Will it grow the pie? What kind of readers will it attract?
  • How popular will KU be?
  • How will this affect the algorithms? (There are already reports of KU borrows affecting the Kindle bestseller lists.)

As to whether this will be a lucrative program for indie authors, Gaughran writes:

I could see it going both ways. Those who dive in now could benefit from all those readers testing out their trial month. All those borrow-boosted books could zoom up the charts. I’m seeing some of the launch-featured books jumping from around #2,000 to #200, and general volume seems to be way up – i.e. it looks like it’s taking a lot more sales to hit the usual ranks.

Naturally, if this phenomenon continues it will squeeze out many non-Kindle Unlimited books from high-visibility spots in the Kindle Store. That would seem to make enrolling the smart move, but it’s not that simple. For starters, the first month could be a poor guide to how things will pan out – maybe most readers won’t renew their subscription when their free trial expires. And there are other considerations too.

There is really long discussion thread on this at Gaughran’s blog; read the full post and take a look.

I also highly recommend taking a look at this analysis from Publishers Lunch: Influence of Kindle Unlimited on Amazon Bestsellers Grows

For an overview of industry reaction to Kindle Unlimited, read Porter Anderson’s Bookseller piece, A Buffet of Digital Book Subscriptions.

Thoughts & questions:

  • The big-picture question that Gaughran raises: Does KU—or ebook subscription services in general—represent the future of reading?

Comic Sales Rise, in Paper and Pixels by George Gene Gustines

The first line of this piece in the New York Times says it all: “Print and digital may have found the ideal place to coexist: the comic book industry.” The article explores successful players and startups, and their business models. Read the full piece.

Thoughts & questions:

  • This is a rare glimpse of publishing good news and optimism, with business models based on subscription and pay-what-you-want. What can other magazine and book publishers learn from what’s happening in comics?

Beat Amazon! Is Not a Business Plan for Startups by Kevin DiCamillo

DiCamillo summarizes a keynote speech by Craig Mod at the Yale Publishing Course, in which he spoke at length about the qualities of Wattpad as a strong publishing startup:

The best start-ups are kinds of accidents,” Mod posits. And they are simple, too. Wattpad’s mantra seems to be “Let’s have you write something and see if some readers find you.” This “Weirdly utopian, almost naïve way of thinking” has worked well for Wattpad and has turned Allen Lau’s baby into “an infinite gold-making machine.”

Read the complete piece.

Thoughts & questions:

  • Wattpad has been around since 2006 and is not yet profitable. (The latest reports indicate their business model may be based on native advertising.) Do you use it? What’s your take?
  • In his talk, Mod argued that Amazon has no incentive to change and this has led to ebook innovation stagnation. What do you think?

The post Ebook Subscription Services: Good for Authors? [Smart Set] appeared first on Jane Friedman and was written by Jane Friedman.

]]>
http://janefriedman.com/feeder/?FeederAction=clicked&feed=Articles+%28RSS2%29&seed=http%3A%2F%2Fjanefriedman.com%2F2014%2F07%2F24%2Fkindle-unlimited%2F&seed_title=Ebook+Subscription+Services%3A+Good+for+Authors%3F+%5BSmart+Set%5D/feed/ 3
Writers Are Opening Up About Money—And That’s a Good Thing http://janefriedman.com/feeder/?FeederAction=clicked&feed=Articles+%28RSS2%29&seed=http%3A%2F%2Fjanefriedman.com%2F2014%2F07%2F22%2Fwriters-are-talking-about-money%2F&seed_title=Writers+Are+Opening+Up+About+Money%E2%80%94And+That%26%238217%3Bs+a+Good+Thing http://janefriedman.com/feeder/?FeederAction=clicked&feed=Articles+%28RSS2%29&seed=http%3A%2F%2Fjanefriedman.com%2F2014%2F07%2F22%2Fwriters-are-talking-about-money%2F&seed_title=Writers+Are+Opening+Up+About+Money%E2%80%94And+That%26%238217%3Bs+a+Good+Thing#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 09:00:14 +0000 http://janefriedman.com/?p=19776 From a recent op-ed at the New York Times: Writers may always have worried about money, but now seems a particularly fertile time for writing about it. … This spate of talk about writing and money has opened up broader conversations about who can afford to enter the profession today, and who gets shut out. My magazine […]

The post Writers Are Opening Up About Money—And That’s a Good Thing appeared first on Jane Friedman and was written by Jane Friedman.

]]>
writing and money

Historias Visuales / via Flickr

From a recent op-ed at the New York Times:

Writers may always have worried about money, but now seems a particularly fertile time for writing about it. … This spate of talk about writing and money has opened up broader conversations about who can afford to enter the profession today, and who gets shut out.

My magazine Scratch is mentioned, and my Scratch co-founder is quoted:

Manjula Martin, the cofounder of Scratch, told Op-Talk that “there has always been this tension for writers around how to make a living and how to make art.” However, she said, growing job insecurity in writing professions and beyond may have led to a new wave of anxiety: “As the economy is changing and as things just feel more precarious in our culture, that bleeds through to the literary culture. And I think a big part of that too is a question of, ‘is literature and are the arts going to continue to be valued in ways that we have perhaps always just assumed they would be?’”

At a time when authors seem to be more divided than united, I hope we can at least agree: Sharing our publishing experiences with each other—with as much transparency as possible—helps us all make better decisions for the long term of our careers.

Read the full op-ed.

The post Writers Are Opening Up About Money—And That’s a Good Thing appeared first on Jane Friedman and was written by Jane Friedman.

]]>
http://janefriedman.com/feeder/?FeederAction=clicked&feed=Articles+%28RSS2%29&seed=http%3A%2F%2Fjanefriedman.com%2F2014%2F07%2F22%2Fwriters-are-talking-about-money%2F&seed_title=Writers+Are+Opening+Up+About+Money%E2%80%94And+That%26%238217%3Bs+a+Good+Thing/feed/ 5
Why I Left My Mighty Agency and New York Publishers (for now) http://janefriedman.com/feeder/?FeederAction=clicked&feed=Articles+%28RSS2%29&seed=http%3A%2F%2Fjanefriedman.com%2F2014%2F07%2F21%2Fi-left-my-agent%2F&seed_title=Why+I+Left+My+Mighty+Agency+and+New+York+Publishers+%28for+now%29 http://janefriedman.com/feeder/?FeederAction=clicked&feed=Articles+%28RSS2%29&seed=http%3A%2F%2Fjanefriedman.com%2F2014%2F07%2F21%2Fi-left-my-agent%2F&seed_title=Why+I+Left+My+Mighty+Agency+and+New+York+Publishers+%28for+now%29#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 09:00:26 +0000 http://janefriedman.com/?p=19763 Note from Jane: Today I’m beyond honored to feature bestselling author Claire Cook (@ClaireCookwrite), who has just released Never Too Late, from which this post is excerpted. Claire has a fascinating story to tell about her decision to leave her agency and traditional publisher, and chase after her publishing dreams. As the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, […]

The post Why I Left My Mighty Agency and New York Publishers (for now) appeared first on Jane Friedman and was written by Claire Cook.

]]>
Olivander / via Flickr

Olivander / via Flickr

Note from Jane: Today I’m beyond honored to feature bestselling author Claire Cook (@ClaireCookwrite), who has just released Never Too Late, from which this post is excerpted. Claire has a fascinating story to tell about her decision to leave her agency and traditional publisher, and chase after her publishing dreams.


As the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, “The only thing constant is change.”

I was cruising along, represented by a powerful literary agent from a mighty agency that I both liked and respected, published by a series of big New York publishers that believed in my books and helped me make them better, and receiving advances for my novels that were substantial enough to live well on.

And then the publishing world began to get rocky, just like the music world and the newspaper world and so many others had before it.

I was one of the lucky authors. I had multi-book contracts, I was still being sent on book tour by my publisher and published in both hardcover and paperback, so I was able to put on my blinders and ignore the changes at first. Eventually, I couldn’t help noticing my career stalling out, but I’m a glass half-full kind of person, so I just shrugged it off, and figured if I dug down deep and worked even harder than I was already working, I could make up for the shrinking energy and resources being put behind my books.

And then, after years of stability and support, it was jolting when a single one of my novels made the rounds through three separate editors, because the first two left the publishing house. I lost count of the in-house publicists disappearing through the revolving door—even their names began to blur. But the good news was that this was my final book under contract with this publisher, so I’d just find a better home for my books and myself when I was free.

When the time came, my agent and I made the rounds, meeting with editors at the big publishing houses. I signed a two-book contract with the one who promised they’d put all their resources behind me to grow my readership and to get my career moving again in the right direction.

It didn’t happen. I think they tried hard with the first book, but the things that used to work for traditional publishers trying to break out a book weren’t working so well anymore. I wrote the second book I owed them. And then I found out that their entire plan for this book was to do all the things that hadn’t worked for the first one. Even I couldn’t find the glass half full in that. So I spoke up, verbally, and then in writing, and then in writing with lots of detail, even some bullet points.

Let’s just say it didn’t go over so well. And then my editor went off on a three-month maternity leave that would end just before my book came out, leaving her assistant, a very nice young woman a couple years out of college, responsible for the care of my novel. Less than a month before my publication date, I received an email from this very nice assistant telling me she was leaving publishing to start a takeout food business with a friend.

What a coincidence, I almost wrote back. I’m leaving publishing to start a takeout food business, too!

And now no one was in charge of my book.

Oh, it was such a low point. I’d spent thirteen years trying to be the hardest working author in the universe, and I felt excruciatingly let down by the institution that was literally feeding me. And paying my bills.

It gets worse. Around this time I started receiving emails and calls from booksellers telling me they were having trouble ordering my backlist books that had been published by my last publisher. And then that last publisher went under and was bought out by another publisher who inherited all their titles. So in another huge bump in the road, these five backlist books went from being ignored to being part of a fire sale and were now owned by a new publisher that quickly demonstrated they had absolutely no interest in them.

One day right around this time it hit me: I simply can’t do this again. I cannot let another publisher break my heart.

It gets better. Independent self-publishing had taken off and grown into a viable alternative. Authors in situations similar to mine were becoming hybrid authors—both traditionally and self-published. And in this new world, there was little of the cloak and dagger stuff I’d experienced in traditional publishing where everything from money to marketing was kept secret. Indie authors were generously sharing everything they learned to help others on the same path. Via message boards and blogs and conferences, a great support system was bubbling up.

I’d already dipped a toe in this new pond, back when I first began to feel the changes. Ebooks were taking off like crazy and my readers were embracing them. Since I owned the rights to Must Love Dogs, I reformatted it and uploaded the ebook on Amazon. I gave it away on Mother’s Day to thank my readers for their support. No advertising, just an email blast, a post on Facebook and another one on Twitter. It had 32,000 downloads in that one day and reached the No. 1 spot on the Amazon free list, right next to Fifty Shades of Grey on the paid list. And now a whole bunch of people wanted to hear more from these characters. Amazing.

So the pieces of my new dream started to come together. I would find a way to get the rights to my backlist books reverted, and then I’d republish them with my own publishing company, which I’d call Marshbury Beach Books after the fictional town in my novels. Then I’d turn Must Love Dogs into a series—my readers wanted more, series were becoming more popular, and it would be fun to have a new kind of writing challenge since I’d never written a series. After that, I’d just keep writing, maybe even that nonfiction book about reinvention I’d wanted to write for years.

I hired a lawyer to help me begin the arduous process of getting the rights to my backlist reverted. But this time I did it the smart way. I reached out to a wonderful organization I belong to, Novelists, Inc., which has a legal fund for its members I could apply to for help subsidizing my efforts. NINC had a list of lawyers, and once I’d chosen one, they even made the initial contact for me.

I finished writing a draft of Book 2 of the new Must Love Dogs series. My agent not only read but also gave me helpful editorial advice. We seemed to be on the same page in terms of the steps I needed to take to get my career back on track. I’d already self-published Must Love Dogs and Multiple Choice with her full knowledge and support. It seemed to me that if I could get my career moving again, it would only benefit us both down the road.

And then one day on the phone my agent informed me that in order to continue to be represented by this mighty agency, I would have to turn over 15% of the proceeds of my about-to-be self-published book to said agency. Not only that, but I would have to publish it exclusively through Amazon, because the agency had a system in place with Amazon where I could check a box and their 15% would go straight to them, no muss, no fuss.

There was no deal, no sale. There would be no self-publishing assistance, no special treatment from Amazon to give my books an extra push, no marketing. Why would I pay 15% of my profits—forever—simply for the privilege of being represented by a big name agency? And this might well turn out to be representation in name only, since it was made clear to me that the mighty agency’s subagents could not be expected to devote time and energy to selling rights to works that were not traditionally published.

It was wrong, ethically and financially, and I just couldn’t do it. I Googled and searched message boards and was introduced to the term revenue grabbing.

To say it rocked my world would be an understatement. I was stunned, in part because I had several author friends traveling the same road, whose agents were supporting their indie journeys to get their careers back on track in a big way, and only commissioning the sales of subrights like foreign and audio.

A lawyer at another organization that I’m a member of looked over my breakup papers furnished by the agency, and told me to look on the bright side: They never would have bothered if they didn’t smell money. I was hardly a big fish at this agency, so in my mind it was more about getting caught in the crossfire as agents and publishers alike try to reinvent themselves and stay relevant in these quickly changing times.

I cried. A lot. At one point, I remember Googling Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s five stages of grief and realizing that I was cycling through them all, from denial to anger to bargaining to depression to acceptance. And then, once I finished wallowing and being pathetic, I shook it off and got back to work, more determined than ever.

As much as this whole thing totally, totally sucked, as much as it felt like my entire support system had been pulled out from under me, I never once questioned that I would continue writing. And I never once questioned that my readers would want to read my next book, no matter how it was published.

I tell this story not to point fingers or to badmouth anyone, but in the spirit of those indie authors who have so generously shared information to help others coming up behind them on the road.

Onward and Upward

I loved having a savvy, formidable literary agent advocating for me, and a connected group of terrific subagents going after foreign and film rights. I loved working with publishing teams made up of smart people who knew how to help me make my books better and had the clout to get my books much wider distribution than I could ever get on my own.

If the right literary agent comes along, one who gets where I’m going and can support my new journey in a meaningful way, that would be great. But I’m in no rush, and it’s been both good to take a break to think about what I’ll need moving forward, as well as empowering to take control of my own career.

I consider myself a hybrid author, both traditionally and self-published. If the right traditional publishing offer comes along, especially one that would get my paper books into bookstores in a more widespread way than I can on my own, I’d absolutely work with a traditional publisher again. As Guy Kawasaki, the former chief evangelist of Apple, said about his own hybrid author career, “I’m not for sale, but I am absolutely for rent.”

But the magic for me is that I don’t need it anymore.

Jumping off the traditional publishing treadmill I’ve been on since 2000 has meant making some short-term sacrifices, the biggest of which was letting go of the money it provided. But my self-published checks come monthly, not twice a year, and I get much higher percentages of sales without sharing a percentage. The income gap is closing.

I now own seven of my twelve books. I control pricing and promotion, and I can balance my need to earn a living with making my books available to my loyal readers at the best price I can offer them. I can add fresh content and switch excerpts and change covers any time I want. By the time I have ten indie-published books, I think Marshbury Beach Books and I will be doing just fine.

But already I’m happy. Instead of waiting for the next thing to go wrong, instead of feeling like I can’t get close enough to my own career to move it in the right direction, I wake up every day and get right to work. I’m ridiculously busy, but I’m learning so many new things about writing and publishing and connecting, and I spend all day (and often a chunk of the night) doing the work I was born to do.


Never Too Late by Claire cookIf it’s time for you to reinvent yourself like Claire did, be sure to check out Never Too Late. You can also stop by Claire’s website, ClaireCook.com, to download your free Never Too Late workbook, and to sign up for her newsletter.

The post Why I Left My Mighty Agency and New York Publishers (for now) appeared first on Jane Friedman and was written by Claire Cook.

]]>
http://janefriedman.com/feeder/?FeederAction=clicked&feed=Articles+%28RSS2%29&seed=http%3A%2F%2Fjanefriedman.com%2F2014%2F07%2F21%2Fi-left-my-agent%2F&seed_title=Why+I+Left+My+Mighty+Agency+and+New+York+Publishers+%28for+now%29/feed/ 110
What Is the Future of the Physical Bookstore? [Smart Set] http://janefriedman.com/feeder/?FeederAction=clicked&feed=Articles+%28RSS2%29&seed=http%3A%2F%2Fjanefriedman.com%2F2014%2F07%2F17%2Ffuture-physical-bookstore%2F&seed_title=What+Is+the+Future+of+the+Physical+Bookstore%3F+%5BSmart+Set%5D http://janefriedman.com/feeder/?FeederAction=clicked&feed=Articles+%28RSS2%29&seed=http%3A%2F%2Fjanefriedman.com%2F2014%2F07%2F17%2Ffuture-physical-bookstore%2F&seed_title=What+Is+the+Future+of+the+Physical+Bookstore%3F+%5BSmart+Set%5D#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 09:00:15 +0000 http://janefriedman.com/?p=19740 Welcome to the weekly The Smart Set, where I share three smart pieces worth reading about the publishing and media industry. I also point to issues and questions raised, and welcome you to respond or ask your own questions in the comments. “To seek: to embrace the questions, be wary of answers.” —Terry Tempest Williams The Problem of Reinventing the Bookstore by Nate Hoffelder […]

The post What Is the Future of the Physical Bookstore? [Smart Set] appeared first on Jane Friedman and was written by Jane Friedman.

]]>
Smart Set

Welcome to the weekly The Smart Set, where I share three smart pieces worth reading about the publishing and media industry. I also point to issues and questions raised, and welcome you to respond or ask your own questions in the comments.

“To seek: to embrace the questions, be wary of answers.”

—Terry Tempest Williams


The Problem of Reinventing the Bookstore by Nate Hoffelder

Over at The Digital Reader, Hoffelder summarizes and comments on several designs meant to “reinvent” the bookstore. What should a bricks-and-mortar bookstore in the digital age look like? Some ideas include the following:

  • Literary sommeliers who advise you on what to read next. (I think these are also called “booksellers.”)
  • A dedicated area specifically for events.
  • Comfortable reading areas, with ready access to drinks and food.
  • Desks that can be rented.
  • Multimedia interfaces in the store that allow for digital purchasing, reading of online reviews, and other “sensory” experiences.

Hoffelder says there’s just one problem with these visions:

I was disappointed by the lack of detail on the bookstores’s business models. Only one of the designs really addressed that point, and what they propose just doesn’t sound practical. The real point of this exercise was to find ways for booksellers to make more money …

Thoughts & questions:

  • How will physical retail bookstores need to change to remain viable businesses as more book sales shift online?
  • What is the future business model of the bookstore? Is it primarily based on selling books?

Platform Monopolies by Fred Wilson

Speaking of bookstores: One of the most well-known venture capitalists, Fred Wilson, has commented on the larger question raised by the ongoing Amazon-Hachette battle. He writes:

When a platform like Amazon emerges as the dominant monopoly in publishing, who will keep them honest? When every author has left the publishing house system and has gone direct with Amazon, what does that world look like? … We have invested in Wattpad, which is a bottoms up competitor to Amazon, as opposed to Hachette, which is a top down competitor to Amazon. We think its easier for a more open, less commercial platform like Wattpad to keep Amazon honest than it is for a legacy publishing house.

Thoughts & questions:

  • I’ll just pose a version of Wilson’s own question: When you see a dominant market power emerge (in this case, Amazon), ask yourself, “What will undo that market power?”

Will Publishing Change the Tone? by Porter Anderson

For those not closely following the news and debates on Amazon vs. Hachette, you might not realize it, but the discussion has become heated, divisive, and rather nasty. I have more or less removed myself from the conversation, except for the handful of articles I’ve linked to through Smart Set (such as the Wilson piece above).

As the dispute drags on through the summer, Porter Anderson asks if it’s time to dial it back. He writes:

How are you going to be able to take in such a high, bracing view of things if you’re trying to score points in the ground war, blog-shrieking at the 38th self-publishing romance writer from the left? … Spirited, informative, earnestly felt debate can be a huge help in such times of change and challenge. But it’s not necessary to take sides. In fact, it can be an education just to listen carefully to everyone trying to sway you.

Thoughts & questions:

  • There are many gray areas. Let’s acknowledge them.

The post What Is the Future of the Physical Bookstore? [Smart Set] appeared first on Jane Friedman and was written by Jane Friedman.

]]>
http://janefriedman.com/feeder/?FeederAction=clicked&feed=Articles+%28RSS2%29&seed=http%3A%2F%2Fjanefriedman.com%2F2014%2F07%2F17%2Ffuture-physical-bookstore%2F&seed_title=What+Is+the+Future+of+the+Physical+Bookstore%3F+%5BSmart+Set%5D/feed/ 8
3 Takeaways for Writers from the 2014 World Domination Summit http://janefriedman.com/feeder/?FeederAction=clicked&feed=Articles+%28RSS2%29&seed=http%3A%2F%2Fjanefriedman.com%2F2014%2F07%2F15%2F2014-world-domination-summit%2F&seed_title=3+Takeaways+for+Writers+from+the+2014+World+Domination+Summit http://janefriedman.com/feeder/?FeederAction=clicked&feed=Articles+%28RSS2%29&seed=http%3A%2F%2Fjanefriedman.com%2F2014%2F07%2F15%2F2014-world-domination-summit%2F&seed_title=3+Takeaways+for+Writers+from+the+2014+World+Domination+Summit#comments Tue, 15 Jul 2014 09:00:41 +0000 http://janefriedman.com/?p=19718 This past weekend, I attended the World Domination Summit (WDS) in Portland, which attracts 3,000 creative people who are concerned with answering the question: “How do we live a remarkable life in a conventional world?” They are guided by three values: Community Service Adventure Speaking personally, I’m really into the first two, as well as […]

The post 3 Takeaways for Writers from the 2014 World Domination Summit appeared first on Jane Friedman and was written by Jane Friedman.

]]>
World Domination Summit

This past weekend, I attended the World Domination Summit (WDS) in Portland, which attracts 3,000 creative people who are concerned with answering the question: “How do we live a remarkable life in a conventional world?” They are guided by three values:

  1. Community
  2. Service
  3. Adventure

Speaking personally, I’m really into the first two, as well as the third when it’s tied to travel and experiencing new cultures. (Some of the attendees are really into physical adventure.)

The weekend was full of insightful and passionate talks by accomplished people from around the world. Here are three takeaways I was left with.

1. You don’t need to have it all figured out to take the first step.

Some creative people get tripped up and never start things because they can’t envision how they’ll tackle a seemingly insurmountable project. And they can get paralyzed by everything they don’t know. Some people want to feel safe and take action that reduces risk or feels comfortable.

With apologies to my partner, this describes his default behavior. Before tackling a project, he wants to know the process and procedure that will be followed and do everything in the correct manner. He doesn’t take the first step unless he’s researched the other steps and considered advice from experts and others with experience. He is thorough. (His day job involves scheduling and shipping logistics for hundreds of products, so he performs his job at a superior level, as you can imagine.)

I am at the other extreme. I’ll take the first step without knowing anything about steps 2, 6, and 10, then realize around step 10 that I’ve wasted a lot of time, money, or energy along the way. Sometimes this leads to failure, sometimes not.

Neither process is necessarily better (or wrong)—much depends on the situation.

However, as speaker Michael Hyatt pointed out, important things get accomplished in the discomfort zone. Attempting new things can involve hesitation and confusion—which inhibits getting started in the first place. Scott Berkun said the hidden secret that all creators have is that they have to do the work while feeling a little unsure—but doing it anyway.

What if you learned by doing, asked speaker Elise Blaha Cripe? What if you took imperfect action, asked speaker Jadah Sellner?

What if: You outline all the steps you need to take, without knowing everything at the outset, and you just focus on step 1. Then you focus on step 2, and so on. (This is a theme echoed in Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, as well as in Getting Things Done.) Break things down into their smallest components, and take the first step.

Besides, once you embark on a project, things change. You grow. The unexpected occurs. And you have to reframe and redirect along the way. You build in flexibility as needed to allow for what couldn’t be anticipated.

2. Write down or speak your goals to make them real.

For those who are familiar with The Secret or just the “power of positive thinking,” this advice can be construed in that manner. But that’s not the intention here.

Still, I sometimes feel conflicted when this advice is offered, depending on the context. Here are the instances when I think it is most helpful.

1. It can help clarify what you want or define what you want to do. Writing something down privately forces clarity, and seeing it on paper (or screen) is not the same as rolling it over in your head. Speaker Elise Blaha Cripe gave all attendees stickers that said, “I ____________.” It is meant to be filled in with what you do or want to be known for.

2. Writing down specific goals can help you take them more seriously and take steps to achieve them—both conscious and unconsciously. Your perspective shifts and you see opportunities to further your goal, and what is distracting from the goal. It gives you a framework for making better choices.

3. Sharing your goals publicly can bring a community to your aid. If people know what you want to achieve, they can offer resources, ideas, and assistance. If you keep quiet or don’t clearly know what you want, that obviously makes it tougher for people to be helpful. Many goals can be out of your reach without the help of others.

These themes were echoed strongly by Jadah Sellner and Elise Blaha Cripe.

Here’s when I think this approach can backfire.

Accountability. I don’t really believe in accountability partners, though many at this event did. (There were even meetups to help you find an accountability partner.) I believe in partnering with people to accomplish things, as well as critique groups, mentors, and communities. But sometimes discussing and expressing our goals publicly can be detrimental. It can de-motivate you. Read Derek Sivers’ compelling argument on this.

Magical thinking. I don’t believe things happen just because you tell the universe that’s what you want.

3. The outer shapes the inner.

If you want to become a better person, then you pretend to be a better person—because if you pretend long enough, it happens. Speaker A.J. Jacobs said, “It’s easier to act your way into a new way of thinking, than to think your way into a new way of acting.”

Yes, this is the old cliche, which works: “Fake it till you make it.”

Similarly, the way you hold your body affects your mind. If you have a Charlie Brown pose (head down, shoulders slumped), you’ll feel more sad or depressed. If you hold your head high and keep your shoulders back, it increases your confidence and lowers stress. This point was made especially clear by speaker Dee Williams, who discussed her changes in attitude and outlook by simply pretending to wear a superhero cape.

If I had to list a fourth insight, it would be from Scott Berkun, who demonstrated the role of luck in so many success stories. We tend to idolize and look for the “secrets” of how or why someone made it, while minimizing any role that chance played. He said that sometimes you can do everything right, and still fail, and that the reasons something becomes successful are often out of your control.

(Of course, not being afraid to fail—and the inevitability of failure—was a consistent theme as well.)


For those of you who have unfulfilled dreams, and need a push in the right direction to pursue them—especially if it involves starting your own business or embarking on a new career—I highly recommend WDS. I am grateful to Chris Guillebeau, its founder, for inviting me to attend. If you’ve never read his manifesto, 279 Days to Overnight Success, every writer should—plus it’s an easy way to get introduced to entrepreneurship. You should also check out The $100 Startup, his New York Times bestselling book.

The post 3 Takeaways for Writers from the 2014 World Domination Summit appeared first on Jane Friedman and was written by Jane Friedman.

]]>
http://janefriedman.com/feeder/?FeederAction=clicked&feed=Articles+%28RSS2%29&seed=http%3A%2F%2Fjanefriedman.com%2F2014%2F07%2F15%2F2014-world-domination-summit%2F&seed_title=3+Takeaways+for+Writers+from+the+2014+World+Domination+Summit/feed/ 12