Laura Fredericks, founder and CEO of the writing community Describli, has put up a very interesting guest post on the future of publishing at the Independent Publishing Magazine – the same platform that had the good taste to commend me and Chris Meadows as shakers in the evolution of the industry. And she is not exactly recommending the status quo ante disruption. In fact, her call – and warning – for both publishers and writers is: connect (or be damned).

Fredericks’s take is that although “the future of publishing remains uncertain,” the “even more direct connection between writers, readers, publishers, and publicity” made possible via social media and the internet means that some kind of active input by both authors and publishers is going to be essential to differentiate and drive success. This won’t come as good news to the Jonathan Franzens of this world who bewail the claims on an author’s time, but there doesn’t seem to be much alternative unless you believe, as Franzen apparently does, that social media can be wished away and we can all return to the days of pigeon post. However, for those writers ready to live in the real world, Fredericks advocates a checklist of attributes and approaches that can work for the ambitious writer (and presumably for the publishers and publicists attached to them): be real; engage; have a plan; consider your messaging; and focus on the big picture.

All of which sounds quite simple, and is potentially pretty useful. But it won’t be a surprise to see that many writers (Franzens and others) and publishers disregard or miss those essential steps. Being real, and “forging genuine relationships with readers” is going to be a big hurdle for many writers, for one thing: It’s hard to imagine James Patterson, for instance, who actually relies on a stable of collaborators (read: ghostwriters) to make much of his bucks, doing it. And there are others, like Chelsea Cain, for whom not having a plan, and the strain of all this engagement, contribute to a social media meltdown of epic proportions. But the skill set to manage this kind of exposure is likely now a part of the tool kit of the working writer, just as a list of agents and publishers and a plentiful supply of stamps used to be. And it’s a lot cheaper than mailouts.


  1. Hi Paul,

    Thanks for mentioning the blog post on TIPM! The connection piece can be a really difficult one, as you said, and I think we’re only now getting to the point (in both self-publishing and the age of author-entrepreneurs) where real skills and solutions are being developed. We definitely went through a couple of hard years of authors yelling book titles on (ehem…unnamed) micro-blogging sites. There is a place for promotion, but I think now we are starting to understand the value of connection, and how it is very different from marketing. And you’re right that authors don’t want to do it – but there are some big gains to be made, and some ways to connect while still writing and producing great work. That’s why I created my site, so that authors could focus on writing but also make meaningful connections.

    Again, thanks for your thoughts on the topic. It’s definitely a tough issue with an evolving set of ways to confront it.


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