The New Intermediation in Publishing

This week, I attended the O’Reilly Media Tools of Change for Publishing conference in NYC (well, specifically, the Author [R]evolution Day on Tuesday). It was well-attended and the buzz was palpable.

Clearly, the industry is being thoroughly disrupted by technology. Publishing is undergoing rapid disintermediation, AND rapid new intermediation. <—(click to tweet this)

ARday tweets

Self-publishing, and assisted publishing without the help of traditional publishers, is flourishing, and we’re in the anarchy phase of it – a ferment of new ideas, platforms, and approaches, with old standards and procedures falling by the wayside while new rules are being written on the fly. It’s exhilarating and confusing.

As a relative outsider to the industry, but someone who is committed this year to pursuing long-form (book) writing, I came to the conference to see what the various options are. What I came away with was a resounding reinforcement of my message about the new intermediation.

In an introductory post on the topic I opened up the idea of the many potential business opportunities that exist by thinking about The New Intermediation. My Ugly Graphic below depicts how this works:

Intermediary1

In a second post, we discussed the opportunity of Curation (filtering and delivering information) in the networked world; and then we also glanced at another manifestation of the new intermediation: Matchmaking. Those are general opportunities; now let’s turn to see how this is working in the specific sector of authoring and publishing. Instead of being forced to take the traditional route of the legacy gatekeepers (publishing houses), there is a flourishing new set of alternatives evolving:

  • Assisted, rapid self-publishing: SlimBooks has an interesting approach to this.
  • A la carte, author-controlled selection of services and revenue-sharing: The crew at NetMinds (including the dynamic Tim Sanders) is doing a fabulous job pioneering this approach.
  • Re-defining the role of the agent into a publishing sherpa: We heard a great talk by Jason Ashlock on this subject. He even used the term “radical intermediator”!
  • Iterative, progressive writing: I really like what Peter Armstrong and the Lean Pub team has come up with, and am strongly considering using this platform (I am a big fan of iterative thought development).
  • Crowdfunding emerging authors: some have used the Kickstarter platform for this, but Pubslush is a focused platform for authors.
  • On-line story sharing: Wattpad gets 14 million visitors every month.
  • Analytics that authors can tap: Bookigee, led by Kristen McLean, is breaking new ground.

So, let’s take the drawing above and adapt it for one instance –  an author looking into alternative ways to get a book to market:

Intermediary Publishing

(the above is not an either-or intermediary approach – could easily be both-and). I’m sure you can see other examples – for instance, intermediaries between authors and Big Data (Bookigee); between readers and authors (Wattpad), etc.

Amazon has been the classic case study of a disintermediating technology/business force, but many others are evolving. These are exciting days, with loads of new opportunities for both authors and new intermediaries. What other entrepreneurial services can you envision that would serve this community? And what tools/platforms/approaches do you recommend for others to consider?

Additional resources:

O’Reilly Media’s Best of Tools of Change collection of articles (free download)

NetMinds’ article on Choosing Between Traditional and Alternative Publishing

Guy Kawasaki’s new book, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book (Amazon affiliate link)

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Recently on Connection Agent blog:

De-fogging Your Business (or Career)

Claim Your Market[place]

5 Books for Business-Starters

I’m about to hand over a book to someone I’m coaching on his career direction. This made me think: if someone was considering starting their own business, what books would I recommend as “required reading” before taking the plunge?

Here’s a handful:

BooksPurple Cow, by Seth GodinDifferentiate, or don’t bother

Enchantment, by Guy Kawasaki - Develop yourself and your people skills above all

The Entrepreneur Equation, by Carol RothDelineate how your idea will actually turn into a successful business

Amazing Things Will Happen, by C.C. ChapmanDream and then do

The $100 Startup, by Chris GuillebeauDon’t wait: opportunity surrounds you.

Each of these books is practical, straightforward, and approachable. In combination, they provide an excellent mix of the idealism and realism that are both required for entrepreneurs.

>>Your turn – what would be on your recommended reading list for new entrepreneurs?

(note: links to book titles above are Amazon affiliate links – which means if you buy from Amazon through following this link, I might earn a few shekels!)

LeadershipChat Plus One

After a few months of planning, it was one year ago this week that Lisa Petrilli and I hosted the inaugural #LeadershipChat on Twitter.

What a wild ride it has been!

We’ve had very lively discussions about male and female roles, courage, work/life balance, loyalty, fear, promotions, lessons from the military…and we’ve enjoyed the contributions of stellar guest hosts and authors like Stephen Denny, Guy Kawasaki, Ann Handley, Steve Farber, and many others.

For Lisa and me, the most rewarding aspect of LeadershipChat has been the community that gathers each Tuesday night; it was our vision to create a climate similar to a Tuscan dinner table, where friends would gather for friendly discussions over wine and good food (we do sometimes open up the chat with pictures of cannoli just to gain a virtual bit of dessert atmosphere!) What has come of it all has been a bunch of real-life friendships, meetings, and collaborations – and that’s just the point. LeadershipChat on Tuesday nights is an introduction to community.

What has been the most rewarding aspect for you? It only seems right, on this first anniversary, to pass the microphone to our valued friends and give you the opportunity to talk about how you’ve benefited from the LeadershipChat community – and how you’d like to grow even more in the year ahead.

So, here’s what we’re asking for this week. Instead of focusing on prep blog posts that Lisa and I write, we’re inviting YOU to write a post (could be on your blog, or Facebook, or Google+ – wherever. Even in the comments below if you’re not a blogger!) expressing what you’re learned and enjoyed from LC this past year, and what you’d like to discuss in the coming year.

This is your chance to tell others – and us – why LeadershipChat has value to you!

We’ll link to your posts on the LeadershipChat.net site, and your thoughts will be the substance of the our conversation on Tuesday, October 11th. Please write your thoughts right now – while you’re thinking about it – and forward the link to Steve (steve at connectionagent dot com) so it will be included on the site for all to see.

Finally, a big THANK YOU to all who have made this community such an encouraging success. In twelve months, we’ve made a good start together. What will the next year of sharing leadership-life bring? Let’s talk about it this Tuesday night at 8 pm ET!

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Hire Steve Woodruff  if your identity and message need clarity (Business Identity Therapy)

Recent posts on Connection Agent:

>> Breaking Free of Powerpoint

>> Trend Currents in Social Media

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Enchanting Your Employees

Guy Kawasaki opens Chapter 10 of his most recent book, Enchantment, with these words: “Here’s another Japanese word: bakatare. It means ‘stupid’ or ‘foolish,’ and it’s the perfect description of people who think disenchanted employees can enchant customers.”

Wow. Bold statement. I happen to think he’s right.

Lisa Petrilli and I have invited Guy to be our guest on Tuesday, July 5th for #LeadershipChat on Twitter (8 pm ET), and we’ll be talking about Enchantment. One topic we’ll address is the under-appreciated role of enchanting employees.

My experience over the decades with employees and other organizational leaders is that very few “get” this. They’re too busy treating underlings as a means to an end to really value them. And how will employees then treat customers, partners, and suppliers? To ask the question is to answer it.

Guy proposes that we provide employees with a MAP – an opportunity to achieve Mastery, Autonomy, and Purpose. More than mere money, people are driven – enchanted – by these higher-level motivators. And when they are empowered to serve the customer (not just a rule book), they will care about their work.

Many of us have walked into Apple stores. And most of us have been forced to experience the Department of Motor Vehicles in our respective states. Where did you find delight and enchantment among employees? Here’s the challenge – how could a DMV actually provide a MAP for its employees?

Join us as we discuss leadership enchantment tonight on Twitter. And if you haven’t already, pick up a copy of Guy’s compact guide to Enchantment – it’s sure to make you more….well, enchanting! (special offer here; my prior video blog review of Enchantment here).

And, to make your chat experience even more enchanting, try out ChatTagged, a custom-made Twitter client for helping manage your on-line chat interactions!

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Unconstructive Feedback – A Leader’s Guide

When Lisa Petrilli and I launched Leadership Chat last year, one of our hopes was that we would, at times, provide a point-counterpoint perspective.

Turns out that we actually agree on an awful lot, though we do tend to approach things from different angles.

But this week, we’re on opposite sides of the fence. Lisa writes about Giving Constructive Feedback in this 8-point post. And that’s all well and good – but what about those leaders who really want to excel in Unconstructive Feedback? Who’s giving them guidance?

I am. So, in the interests of conforming to the recently-enacted No Stupid Left Behind Act, here are my eight counterpoints:

1. Delay is critical. Disassociating feedback from action will help create the desirable sense of confusion that keeps employees on their toes. It is best to wait a day, a week – even a year – before telling George, “Hey, that time you talked about our company history in the presentation to that client? – it was too long-winded.”

2. Keep it vague. What you want is maximum guilt feelings spread over the widest possible range of behaviors. Instead of focusing on a specific typo in an email message, and the potential confusion that it may have caused to a small group of people, simply say, “Your writing leaves a lot to be desired.” That sort of generality will encourage better performance in all circumstances!

3. Focus on the abstract. Instead of looking at how a particular behavior impacted a particular circumstance – the why and how – move to higher levels, such as, “You’re a superb demotivator. Why don’t you stop it?” That way, any number of behaviors and attitudes can be ranged under one overarching criticism.

4. Exaggerate everything, being sure to put each criticism in the worst possible light. Remember – people don’t understand context. So just bring the maximum firepower for maximum effect. The question you always need to ask yourself: “Can we go all scorched-earth on this transgression?” Make it memorable!

5. Make it hard-nosed. Underlings have to be kept in line. You’re not there to make friends. You were made a leader to enforce policy. Period. Remember – you can’t fix stupid, but you sure can enjoy yelling at it!

6. Keep ‘em guessing. While criticizing undesirable behaviors, be sure to leave the alternative along the lines of, “I’m really expecting you to do better.” That way, they never quite know if they’re getting it right, which could lead to complacency.

7. Monitor behind closed doors. Tell them they’d better get it right, and that you’ll be watching. They were hired to do a job and they need to know that you’re not there to babysit. If they want a coach, they can go back to high school and join the football team.

8. Let them know that they are right on the bubble. The best workers are those who fear for their jobs continually. Use the word “expendable” liberally when upbraiding them for their marginal performance. This will extract the maximum effort from their dissolute souls.

Lisa, I know you meant well. But, really – I have far more “leaders” on my side. My principles are embedded in so many organizations, and they are passed down from generation to generation by countless corporate scribes and practitioners. In fact, I’ve been meaning to tell you – all of your blog posts really leave a lot to be desired – I’m expecting better! :>}

(yes, dear readers, all of the above is sarcastic spoofery. If only it weren’t so common in practice, however!)

So, what do you think – Steve’s view of feedback, or Lisa’s? Join the discussion on Twitter tonight during #LeadershipChat (8 pm ET) and let’s talk about how to give constructive – or not – input.

(Image credit – Wilted Rose)

PLUS – big news! Special guest host joining us for next week’s LeadershipChat (July 5th) – author and all-around smart fellow Guy Kawasaki (we’ll talk about leadership principles from his book Enchantment). Don’t miss this one!

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Guy Kawasaki’s Enchantment: Will it Blend?

Recently, I was sent a review copy of Guy Kawasaki’s newest tome-for-the-masses, Enchantment (not an affiliate link; my ability to buy a pack of gum this month will not be influenced by your purchase).

And as I began to read, I wondered if it wasn’t a secret practical joke by the ever-cheerful GK. Was this book serious? Or was he pulling a fast one on us? Here’s my conclusion:

There’s a lot of the basics in this book – the bread and butter of business. You’re not going to read this book for blinding new insights. For the experienced, it’s a handy little summary of reminders. And also a great giveaway to hand out to those getting started.

A few favorite items extracted from the blender:

  • Re-thinking the term “conflict of interest” for “alignment of interests” (p. 30) – cute, and a nice re-framing.
  • The power of proximity in connecting with others (p. 16)
  • The application Guy gives for each “think Japanese” term (p. 149)
  • Prototyping your work (p. 167-8) – I do this all the time with clients, even at the proposal level.

If I had to put this somewhere as required curriculum, I’d place it (at latest) right between college graduation and your first career position. Then re-read 5 years later. And again 10 years later. These simple, foundational practices will provide far better ROI, I’d wager, than whatever you just sank into that diploma.

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Publishing Perma-links: Steal This Idea

Lately, I’m reading more books that use hyperlinks as references.

It’s ugly.

(from Guy Kawasaki‘s new book, Enchantment)

But I can understand why authors choose to do this, instead of using URL-shortening services like bit.ly and tinyurl. These services may be transitory and unreliable, while books are meant to be more permanent archives of knowledge.

Here’s the problem: links are transitory, too.

So, is there a business opportunity to solve this problem? I think so. Please feel free to steal this idea if you agree:

Someone should launch a combined URL-shortening service and cloud-based archiving mechanism (similar to the wayback machine) that will take and store a snapshot of the referenced page in an archive, as well as have a pointer to the URL in its current state (which may be either the same, or with altered content, or a 404 Page Not Found).

This way, we can have nicer and more compact perma-link URL pointers in print materials (it would work for on-line content too, actually) which will have a permanent record. Tie it also to a generated QR code (used creatively in The Now Revolution by Jay Baer & Amber Naslund) for the archived link and you’ve got a real winner.

Call the service book.it or something like that.

I could easy see a 2-tier free (personal) and paid (professional) version of this, so it could be used by individual researchers, students, and the like. Every publishing house would be on the professional version, and each book released would have links formatted something like this:

http://www.book.it/nowrev/1-1 (The Now Revolution, chapter 1, first link)

I don’t have time or expertise to create this. So do us all a favor – steal this idea. Just put a perma-link back to this post when you’re done, for the first test case!

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