My RWW 2Way Summit Pitch: Anti-Stealth Publishing

I’m actively seeking opportunities to share what I’ve learned so far in my effort to influence the writing and publishing workflow in the Digital Age with my (totally life-consuming) storytelling experiment The Miracle in July. So, when technology news giant Read Write Web announced that their next 2Way Summit was accepting breakout session proposals, I pitched a talk on anti-stealth publishing.

Thought y’all would like to see it. Comments (and speaking gig referrals) are much appreciated :)

Assisting new habit formation - 2010-11-30General Category
Big, Scary Ideas

Tentative Title
Anti-Stealth Publishing: The Future of Storytelling is Transparent

Session Pitch
Tech start-ups release their barely functioning, often clunky products to crowdsource improvements and build a community of users-turned-evangelists. Musicians—who are now in the business of selling t-shirts and concert tickets—release their songs online for free to music lovers who discover it, love it, and in turn share the songs with other potential fans. But authors? They still cower under piles of rejection letters with NYC return addresses, clutching their brilliant manuscripts tightly, deathly afraid of releasing their work to a world of potential readers (and book buyers) for fear that traditional publishers will punish them for insubordination and refuse to market their work.

Traditional publishers (here defined as large, mass-market publishers) see themselves as the Ultimate Authority in What is Worth Reading, and yet green light Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi’s novel. They use fear, uncertainty and doubt to perpetuate the myth that once a story has been released online–in any format or version–is indicative of a “not good enough” writer. They cling to the old paradigm of content exclusivity, to the imaginary stigma of self-publishing, and to the idea that writers must have access to their international marketing channels to find readers and sell books.

Meanwhile, when non-fiction author Terry Fallis couldn’t get the attention of a traditional publisher, he released his work The Best Laid Plans as a free podcast on his website, built a community around his work, then self-published the podcast as a book. Terry ended up with a bunch of prestigious awards, respect as an authority on his topic, and sells a lot of books.

And there’s Max Barry, a very successful, traditionally published fiction author who posted the first 43 pages of his story Machine Man a page at a time, and for free. (The rest of the first-run story is available for a nominal fee.) While posting his chapters, Max solicited reader feedback for the book version of the story that hits both virtual and real bookshelves later this year, much to the delight of the fans who watched it unfold and helped shape it’s narrative.

And then there’s The Miracle in July, my genre-bending, large-scale, reader feedback-influenced, storytelling experiment that starts as a free, first draft, interactive web serial and ends only when I’ve squeeze all variations of formats and versions out of it. MIJ readers, emotionally invested and cheering me on, helped me raise thousands of dollars in a Kickstarter campaign in support my storytelling experiment.

Yet traditional publishers still cling to the old paradigm of content exclusivity, to the imaginary stigma of self-publishing, and to the idea that writers need their international marketing channels to find readers and sell books. But readers of Terry’s books don’t care that he self-published. They won’t use the excuse of an earlier, online iteration of Max’s story as a reason not to buy the book version. And even though the next scheduled incarnation of The Miracle in July is “just” the book format of the first draft web series, readers are already lining up to pre-order.

My Read Write Web 2Way Summit session will outline all the reasons that writers can and should be anti-stealth with their work, why releasing their stories online won’t kill their career, and why transparent, iterative publishing turns readers into loyal fans who will passionately work to make a writer a success.

3 major take-aways

  1. There is wealth in anti-stealth
  2. There is no good reason to keep your work a secret
  3. Transparency creates a community, publicity, and a badass product

Why I would be a valuable speaker (30 words or less)
I’m determined to set new benchmarks in how we create and share content, and hope to influence 2Way attendees to bring their work into the light to benefit of everyone.

Links to videos and presentations
Using Apture to Tell Interactive Stories

New Languages, Relations and Realities: A Writers’ Roundtable (Pg. 4)

Social Media in Real Life

Social Media for Real Estate and Insurance Professionals

What does 2Way mean to you?
To me, 2Way means collaboration, transparency, and this quote from Marshall McLuhan: “At the moment of Sputnik the planet became a global theater in which there are no spectators but only actors.”

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