Posted on October 19, 2012 by Dan Blank
Today I want to talk about the value of creating an experience. One where you show up, where you engage with others in real-time, where it becomes about more than “consuming content.”
I’ll frame this with three examples from my life this week:
MEETING J.K. ROWLING
In a moment of excitement, I purchased 7 tickets to J.K. Rowling’s only US appearance, a Q&A and book signing in New York City. When the tickets arrived, I was flumoxed as to what to do with them. They were hard tickets to get, and were now selling for hundreds of dollars each on the aftermarket. I could easily have made hundreds if not thousands of dollars by selling them.
But instead, I wanted to create an experience. I wanted to share these tickets with people who inspire me, who would make the evening even more incredible.
So I did two things:
- I held a giveaway where I offered two of the tickets to writers. My goal was to help a writer meet their hero.
- For the remaining four tickets, I reached out to a few people who I thought would make the entire evening a celebration of children’s & young adult literature. In the end, I gave the tickets to: Betsy Bird, Gabriela Pereira, Alison Morris and Lori Ess. All people who champion writers!
Here is our little group:
The evening was filled with discussions on books and writers, and tons of laughter. It’s the only time I’ve ever heard a potential review for a kid’s book as “It’s F-ing awesome!”
This was truly the experience I was hoping for – spending time with folks who write and support writers. Oh, and we got to meet J.K. Rowling:
HELPING KIDS SHARE THEIR WRITING
For the past 8 years, I have volunteered at PS 123, a public school in Harlem. Showing up to the school, talking with the students and the faculty, I learn more about the successes and challenges of an inner city school than I could ever learn by reading an article or a book.
This week I had the first meeting with their 2012/2013 newspaper staff:
More and more, it is easier to “like” a cause on Facebook, to make a $25 donation on Kickstarter, and feel involved in helping others. But nothing beats showing up, spending time, and most of all: listening.
CREATING AN EXPERIENCE, NOT JUST SHARING CONTENT
This week, I announced the guest experts who will be speaking in the next session of my Build Your Author Platform course, which runs from October 31 – December 18. Here is the incredible lineup of guest experts who are generously sharing their time and wisdom:
Jane Friedman is the former publisher of Writer’s Digest, and is now the web editor for the Virginia Quarterly Review. She has spoken at more than 200 events & conferences for writers, and is an encyclopedia of knowledge about how to navigate the world of publishing. You can find her on Twitter at @JaneFriedman
Joanna Penn is a author, blogger, speaker and entrepreneur who helps writers learn how to best publish and sell their books. She knows the trends, and knows what works by speaking with hundreds of successful authors, and by publishing her own series of thrillers. You can find her on Twitter at @TheCreativePenn
Richard Nash is the former Publisher of Soft Skull Press, current VP of Content and Community at Small Demons, and the Founder of RedLemonade and Cursor – exploring new types of publishing platforms. He is also a publishing visionary with deep experience with ensuring meaningful writing finds readers. You can find him on Twitter at @R_Nash
Jeff Goins is an author who helps writers find the best way to write and publish their books, and find an engaged and passionate audience for them. You can find him on Twitter at @JeffGoins
Colleen Lindsay is a Community Manager at Penguin Group, and has been a literary agent, a book publicist, and worked with books for more than 20 years. Colleen is an advocate for writers, and knows what works – and what DOESN’T – when it comes to developing your audience. You can find her on Twitter at @ColleenLindsay
Kathleen Schmidt owns a public relations firm and has worked in publicity roles at Simon and Schuster and Penguin. She spends every day working with writers to ensure people hear about their books. You can find her on Twitter at @bookgirl96
This is exactly why I am so passionate about education, why I teach courses and workshops. It goes beyond “delivering information.” It is about conversations, explorations, experiences, and relationships. So many “courses” out there that just send you PDFs each week. Yes, they are filled with GOOD information, but that is very different than engagement – being part of an experience.
As I think about what I will create in the coming months and years, more and more I am considering the unique experience that can be shared. How we move away from commoditizing information, knowledge and relationships. How we can come together in ways that are unique, and truly build not just a career for writers, but an interesting life and legacy.