Today on Alphabet City: Jon Paul creates a new job title, reconsidering his belief that bigger is always better.
Size matters. Anyone who has read Episode 14 Happy Soul knows about my appreciation for large endowments. But lately, I’ve been reconsidering that position at it relates to myself. Sometimes wondrous things come in small packages—and not just robin egg blue Tiffany boxes. I’m talking gems of little independently published books like, well, Alphabet City. Even the New York Times is acknowledging the (r)evolution in self-publishing.
Writing in last week’s New York Times Magazine, one my favorite culture critics Virginia Heffernan observed:
Book publishing is simply becoming self-publishing…And self-published books are not just winning in terms of numbers but also making up ground in cachet. As has happened with other media in this heydey of user-generated content, last century’s logic has been turned on its head: small and crafty can beat big and branded.
She goes onto quote IndieReader, a boutique online marketplace for self-published books as saying, “Think of these books like handmade goods, produced in small numbers, instead of the mass-marketed stuff you’d find at a superstore.”
I love that image—I’m like the farmer at your neighborhood greenmarket—you treasure her artisanal products way more than the crap picked up at Key Foods. And like that farmer, crafting the product and getting it to market takes a lot of chutzpah—something the press has been asking me about a lot about as I do advance interviews for book tour.
Like a good trend and branding expert, I’ve given a name to the special blend of talent and hard work it takes to be a successful independent author: Writer-Preneur. To me, a writer-preneur is someone who combines artistry with business acumen. Someone who explores all methods of connecting with readers—blogging, books, twittering—and then working creatively with companies interested in connecting with those fans.
In my own writer-preneur case, I’m working with Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force to create the Alphabet City Book Party Tour. Kimpton Hotels is known for their marketing and outreach to the lesbian and gay community, and always looking for ways to expand those efforts. They want my readers to become their guests. I want their guests to become my reader. How can we partner to accomplish both of our goals? We came up with a plan for me to travel to many Kimpton Hotels during June’s Gay Pride Month, attend their guest wine hours (expand my market), and host events in the hotel with my other partner the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (expanding the hotel’s market). It’s a win for Kimpton—they expand their reach in the gay community. It’s a win for me—I get to market my book to their guests. Layer on top of that Book Club Parties in friend’s homes, appearances at independent retailers and bars, and you’ve got the makings of one big non-traditional book tour.
Given the economy, I believe writers have to be more creative and work harder to succeed. The days of sitting back and hoping that a major publishing house puts serious money behind your book are over—for most of us. As a writer-preneur my job is to get my writing in the hands of my fans directly—by all means available.
Don’t be surprised if you see me pop-up in unlikely places selling Alphabet City—everything’s fair game when you’re like me—a small in stature but big in spirit Writer-Preneur.