Story Newsapalooza

A roundup of happenings in the story world: Cowbird, the “tool for telling stories” and “public library of human experience,” is today (May 1) chronicling “the act of working, and how it affects who we are.” As described on the blog Telling the Bees, the project celebrates … … the … Continue reading

Update on Memorable Stories

A few weeks ago, I wrote about tracking down an unforgettable story, “Ordeal in the Desert,” that I read as a child. I noted that I had located and ordered the Reader’s Digest Treasury for Young Readers in which I remembered initially reading the story. I also recalled that I … Continue reading

Do Not Even Get Me Started on Book Publishing: #story12 Debbie Weil

But seriously, at least publishers are no longer in control….

Over a span of 19 years — from 1990 to 2009 — I authored eight books that were published by mainstream publishers. Most of my experiences with publishers were wonderful, but my final experience in 2009 was horrendous. My ordeal with the company I have come to refer to as Evil Publishing Company inspired my article on A Storied Career’s parent site, Quintessential Careers, Getting a Book Published — Is It Worth It? I was writing about the tail end of an era in which mainstream publishers were in control of what got published and how books got marketed.

In just the short time since then, the entire publishing scene has flipped. As Debbie Weil (pictured) noted in her #story12 Reinvention Summit presentation, within the last year, much of the stigma of self-publishing has fallen away, and ebooks have taken off, now outselling print books.

After Evil Publishing Company, I was not keen to write a new book anytime soon. I started to get the itch again last year. I had had a long streak of having every book proposal I ever submitted get accepted. And why not? My first book (on cover letters) sold well over 100,000 copies. But one of my previous publishers quickly rejected my latest book idea. As Debbie pointed out, it’s harder than ever to get a book contract and much of an advance in these troubled times for publishers.

So why would anyone want to become a published author these days? How is it a game-changer? Doing so won’t make you rich (probably), but, Debbie says, it will make you credible, give you authority, and make you an established expert.

As I seek to scratch my itch to publish again, I’m mindful of some of the great advice Debbie (see graphic for her company, Voxie Media above) shared in her session. Your book topic can’t just be what you’re passionate about; Debbie says; it has to solve a problem or fill a need for the reader. Even with all the options for self-publishing, Debbie says, it doesn’t matter how easy it is to publish if it’s not worth publishing. Would-be authors need to listen to what people ask.

Some of the approaches to topics that Debbie cited:

Debbie also talked about short books, as short as 30 pages, for example. They may be tantamount to long magazine articles. She cited, for example, Kindle singles. After all, some books don’t need to be as long as they are. I’m currently reading a novel that could easily be a third as long as it is.

Read more of Debbie’s ideas and suggestions about self-publishing and my own experience with self-publishing in the extended entry. See below some of the resources for self-publishing Debbie cited.

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Reclaiming a Long-Lost Story

What makes a story so unforgettable that it stays with you for most of a lifetime? I asked myself that question during a recent quest to find a story I never forgot from childhood. I wrote about the story four years ago while talking about the early influence of Reader’s … Continue reading

Two Cool Ways that SXSW Got Storied

Someday I’d like to attend the South By Southwest (SXSW) Interactive conference in Austin. In the meantime, it’s nice that the conference gets comprehensively covered in clever ways with strong story elements. Here are two that caught my eye this year: Storify: Storify, the tool that helps users tell stories … Continue reading