Look, up on the stage. It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s a futurist.
I like the image I’ve chosen for the lead here today on the Ether because that small circle of associates is an impromptu, off-schedule gathering. It’s a ring of a dozen or so colleagues in a sea of 1,200 seats, maybe more, in the Broadway Ballroom complex at New York’s Marriott Marquis between major plenary sequences of keynotes at O’Reilly’s Tools of Change for Publishing Conference (TOC), ending today.
Note: Again today (Thursday, February 14), the keynotes are being streamed live by the incredible O’Reilly team, you can watch them free on the conference’s main page. They run today from 1:10pET / 1810 GMT to about 3pET / 2000 GMT.
I don’t quite scoff at the heavy emphasis we have on “community” these days, but I come close at times. I’m very solitary by nature, I think many writers are.
I’m not always sure that this drive for community isn’t a dodge, a socially endorsed way to avoid doing the lonely work of writing. I tease Dan Blank mercilessly for promoting all this “sharing” everyone is supposed to do so eagerly, and most experiences of community make me less, not more, communal.
But the urge to band together during the disruption, displacement, dyspepsia, and disarray of the digital dynamic is certainly something others feel. And this small group in that cavern of a room struck me as emblematic of the trend.
O’Reilly Media and Tools of Change founder Tim O’Reilly said in his own, brief and stimulating keynote on Wednesday that we’ve become less afraid of the future. I hope he’s right.
I found myself wishing the future-ish keynotes at the end of the day had been longer. Giving Evan Williams five minutes to demo his latest, Medium, amid a fast parade of talkers kept everybody onstage jogging and most of us in our seats dizzy.
From Rushkoff’s fly-by keynote:
Digital is as different from the mechanical-age book as the book is different from the scroll…Before text, we had oral history, but you could always change that. With text we got accountability.
And one of the themes running through this community-cheering conference is text. As in not going away. As spacey as things may be getting, it seems, we’re hearing a lot of folks on various stages talk “about the words” and about it all being “about the words.”
They don’t mention the accountability part as frequently. A mere oversight, I’m sure.
But because we’re still in mid-conference as I write this, I’m going to take the unusual step of shortening the Ether this week. I’d like to see some more work done on what we’re seeing and hearing—in articles by our colleagues, I mean—before jumping to too many conclusions for which I should be held accountable.
TOC is nothing if not overwhelming each year, and for the best reasons. Joe Wikert and Kat Meyer have outdone themselves this year, starting with our superb first outing of Author (R)evolution Day with co-chair Kristen McLean of WriterCube and keeping up a torrid pace—those flying futurists!—right through the week.
I have a separate Extra Ether for you on “#ARDay,” as we hashed it: A Good Day for the (R)evolution. I’m really proud of that event, as I told Wikert at breakfast yesterday. Really proud, and very grateful to all who came, followed from afar, and, especially, those who spoke.
And here’s a piece on Bowker’s rollout of a new author service that combines the acquisition of ISBNs for your books with a format-conversion capability, in case you’re shopping for such: Bowker’s 1-Stop eBook Conversion Service
I’ve got an Epilogger running on our hashtags #TOCcon and #ARDay here. As I write this, it’s nearing 12,000 tweets and we still have this final day ahead of us.
As soon as we’re done, I’m on a flight to London for the Foyles Bookshop of the Future workshop Friday (the second of two such workshops they’re doing, hashtagged #futurefoyles).
The book is, Rushkoff told us, “about the human reaction to living in a real-time…post-linear reality.”
And of ironic importance to authors: “We get into trouble when we choose the wrong forms. You shouldn’t sweat six months on a tweet.”
I’m bringing them together in one spot each week, to help you recall and locate them, not as an endorsement. And we lead our list weekly with our Writing on the Ether Sponsors, in gratitude for their support.
Writing on the Ether Sponsors
- The Indie Author Revolution: An Insider’s Guide to Self-Publishing by Dara Beevas
- Grow Your Audience: The Author Platform Starter Kit by Dan Blank
- The Stars Fell Sideways by Cassandra Marshall
- Handmade Memories: Poems and Essays, 1997-2011 by Guy LeCharles Gonzalez
- Seasons in Love by Dave Malone
- My Call to the Ring: A Memoir of a Girl Who Yearns to Box by Deirdre Gogarty with Darrelyn Saloom (Glasnevin)
- My Memories of a Future Life by Roz Morris (Red Season)
- Prophecy, An ARKANE Thriller by J.F. Penn (The Creative Penn)
- The Prodigal Hour by Will Entrekin (Exciting Press)
- Perfect Skin by Nick Earls (Exciting Press)
- Rumors of Water: Thoughts on Creativity & Writing by L.L. Barkat (T.S. Poetry Press)
- APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch
- The Art of Being Not Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia (Yale Agrarian Studies Series) by James C. Scott
- Beside Myself by Jeff Gomez
- Black Sheep by CJ Lyons
- Buzz Books (free) from Publishers Lunch
- Don’t Leave Me by James Scott Bell
- Dreamlander by K.M. Weiland
- Drinking Diaries: Women Serve Their Stories Straight Up by Caren Osten Gerszberg & Leah Odze Epstein
- Exodus by J.F. Penn
- The Fifth Assassin by Brad Meltzer
- Homeland by Cory Doctorow
- How Do I Decide? by Rachelle Gardner
- Inspired: Eight Ways To Write Poems You Can Love by L.L. Barkat
- Knot What It Seams by Elizabeth Craig
- The Last Will of Moira Leahy by Therese Walsh
- Nail Your Novel by Roz Morris
- Notes From No Man’s Land: American Essays by Eula Bliss
- Pentecost by J.F. Penn
- Present Shock by Douglas Rushkoff
- The Ring Road by Edward Weinman
- Sell Your Book Like Wildfire by Rob Eagar
- Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan
- Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield
- Wool by Hugh Howey
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Last day today, February 14 New York City (again at Marriot Marquis Times Square) O’Reilly Media’s Tools of Change for Publishing Conference: “Every February, the publishing industry gathers at the O’Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing Conference (TOC) to explore the forces that are transforming publishing and focus on solutions to the most critical issues facing the publishing world. TOC sells out every year—don’t miss its potent mix of fabulous people and invaluable information.” Under the direction of Joe Wikert and Kat Meyer.
February 11 and 15 London Foyles and The Bookseller Re-Imagine the Bookshop: In this invitational workshop, “Foyles has partnered with The Bookseller to invite customers and industry experts to help design a new flagship Foyles bookshop on Charing Cross Road for the 21st century with architects Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands…Participants will be asked to engage with issues such as declining physical book sales; the place of ebooks; the cultural importance of bookshops and author events; the specialist knowledge of booksellers; and how bookshops can provide customers with a place to buy books, however they decide to read them.”
February 19-21 Indie ReCon online: “IndieReCon is a free, online conference…designed to help any writer or author who is curious about the ins and outs of indie publishing. You’ll find everything from the pros and cons of indie publishing, essential aspects in creating a high-quality book, successful online marketing, and expanding into international markets…We will feature more than 30 guests, including…Darcy Chan, CJ Lyons, Bob Mayer, Hugh Howey, M. Leighton, and Samantha Young.”
March 6-9 Boston AWP, the Association of Writers and Writing Programs AWP last year drew 10,000 attendees to icy Chicago (it looked like 40,000 attendees when everybody’s coats were on), and, per its copy on the site this year, AWP “typically features 550 readings, lectures, panel discussions, and forums, as well as hundreds of book signings, receptions, dances, and informal gatherings.” The labyrinthine book fair is said to have featured some 600 exhibitors last year. The program is a service-organization event of campus departments, hence the many (many) readings by faculty members and a frequently less-than-industry-ready approach that worries some of us about real-world training the students may be missing.
April 5-7 New York City Writer’s Digest Conference East: Author James Scott Bell, who knows the value of coffee, gives the opening keynote address this year at “one of the most popular writing and publishing conference in the U.S. Writer’s Digest Conference 2013 is coming back to New York at the Sheraton New York Hotel. Whether you are developing an interest in the craft of writing, seeking an agent or editor and publisher for your work, or a veteran hoping to keep current on the latest and best insights into reaching a broader readership, Writer’s Digest Conference is the the best event of its kind on the East Coast.” (Note that this year’s hashtag is #WCE.)
April 17 New York CitypaidContent Live: Riding the Transformation of the Media industry Brisk and bracing, last year’s paidContent Live conference was efficient, engaging, and enlightening, not least for the chance to see many of the talented journalists of Om Malik’s GigaOM/paidContent team work onstage — Laura Hazard Owen, Mathew Ingram, Jeff John Roberts (in history’s most difficult interview), Robert Andrews, Ernie Sander, et al. Among speakers listed for this year’s busy day: Jonah Peretti, Jason Pontin, Chris Mohney, Erik Martin, David Karp, Mark Johnson, Aria Haghighi, Matt Galligan, Rachel Chou, Lewis D’Vorkin, John Borthwick, Andrew Sullivan, Jon Steinberg, Alan Rusbridger, Evan Ratliff, and, of course, the two people the law says absolutely must be in every publishing conference, Dominique Raccah and Michael Tamblyn.
May 2-5 Oxford, Mississippi Oxford Creative Nonfiction Writers Conference & Workshops Susan Cushman follows her Memphis Creative Nonfiction confab with this year’s gathering at the shrine. Among faculty members: Neil White, Leigh Feldman, Lee Gutkind, Dinty W. Moore, Beth Ann Fennelly, Bob Guccione Jr. and Lee Martin. Pre-conference workshops or just the creature itself, your choice.
May 3-5 Boston The Muse & the Marketplace 2013 is a production of Eve Bridburg’s fast-rising non-profit Grub Street program. It’s material reads tells us that organizers plan more than “110 craft and publishing sessions led by top-notch authors, editors, agents and publicists from around the country. The Manuscript Mart, the very popular and effective one-on-one manuscript reviews with agents and editors, will also span 3 days. We expect nearly 800 writers and publishing professionals to attend, while maintaining the conference’s wonderfully intimate, ‘grubby’ energy that we love.”
Main image: Porter Anderson