Writers and Performers
post # 136 — July 18, 2006 — a Careers, Client Relations post
Shaula Evans, part of my tech team, spotted an interesting discussion with John Updike, which raised some concerns about the future of publishing. Since we discussed the future of writing books in this blog back in February, she thought we all might be interested.
Apologizing for her rephrasing, Shaula says
In short, much of the advice to (published and aspiring) authors in the digital age boils down to: “Don’t worry about monitizing books. Give books away, and make money through collateral revenue streams.”
To which Updike responds that authors are writers, not performers, and not likely to succeed as entertainers.
Of course, you (David) have already addressed in your post the reality that those of us who are not already John Updike are not likely to make money through the conventional book publishing and promotion model, either.
It makes me wonder if the middlemen (Amazon, speaker’s bureaus, promoters) are the only ones making money here…
Shaula, I would also relate your comments to the recent stories (New York Times July 17, 2006) about film director M. Night Shyamalan’s superior ability at self-promotion. Do film makers need to turn themselves into a “brand” to get their films into blockbuster status? Should we all be taking lessons from Madonna on how to create and market (constantly evolving) personas in order to draw attention to ourselves?
Do these challenges apply also to those of us trying to practice so-called “professions?” Do we consultants, lawyers, accountants, engineers and others have to take note of all this?
I do believe that there is such a thing as marketing with greater or lesser taste, but as much as I want to sympathize with Updike, I think we live increasingly in a pop-culture world where performing and entertaining ARE indeed where the money lies.
And, Shaula, if the writer doesn’t want to take control of the marketing, the performing, the persona creation, then, as has always been true in the music business, the intermediaries will write the contracts and make the most money.