At BookExpo, You Can…

This week I am attending BookExpo in New York City, a giant tradeshow for those working in publishing, held at the Javits Center.

I LOVE BookExpo. I love watching those who work in publishing grab galleys of books not out yet, with a gleeful look in their eyes. I love watching people stand on long lines to meet their favorite author. I love that you bump into authors constantly. I love that you see how the culture and commerce of the book industry tries to figure itself out, right before your eyes.

Here is my photo recap of the event so far, and I will try to illustrate some of the things you can do at BookExpo.

At BookExpo, you can… become completely overwhelmed even before you pick up your badge:
BookExpo

At BookExpo, you can… realize that all of publishing will fall apart if the new Malcolm Gladwell book doesn’t do well:
BookExpo

At BookExpo, you can… bump into Dr. Ruth:
BookExpo

At BookExpo, you can… meet the guy who illustrated the new Harry Potter covers:
BookExpo

At BookExpo, you can… see a completely unreasonable table for use at a tradeshow:
BookExpo

At BookExpo, you can… feel the difference between big publishers and the rest of us (hint: an extra 2 inches of padding under the carpet):
BookExpo

At BookExpo, you can… see how much “BEA loves Education”
BookExpo

At BookExpo, you can… pay $15 to eat this:
BookExpo

At BookExpo, you can… mingle in plush booths:
BookExpo

At BookExpo, you can… peek behind the curtain of private meetings at Random House:
BookExpo

At BookExpo, you can… be encouraged to take a nap on the floor:
BookExpo

At BookExpo, you can… feel bad for authors who have no line for autographs:
BookExpo

At BookExpo, you can… see Guy Kawasaki shoved into a small booth:
BookExpo

At BookExpo, you can… realize that you never – EVER – mess with Chuck Palahniuk:
BookExpo

At BookExpo, you can… also see Chuck Palahniuk shoved into a small glass interview booth:
BookExpo

At BookExpo, you can… see friends give wonderful presentations (hello Ryan Chapman and Ami Greko!):
BookExpo

At BookExpo, you can… go to parties with amazing views:
BookExpo

At BookExpo, you can… mingle:
BookExpo

At BookExpo, you can… mingle some more:
BookExpo

At BookExpo, you can… get a super secret map to Smurf Village!
BookExpo

All in all, a fully enjoyable event. Thanks to everyone who has made it possible!
-Dan

Why Amazon’s Purchase of Goodreads Changes Nothing for Writers & Readers

I contributed an article to HuffPost Books, reflecting on how Amazon’s purchase of Goodreads affects writers and readers. My conclusion:

In an age where authors increasingly own the connection to readers, does it matter that Amazon bought Goodreads? What exactly will change in the day to day life of writers and readers? Well, nothing.

Why does it not really matter if Amazon buys Goodreads, because in the end, authors have no more, and no fewer ways, of creating great writing, connecting with readers online and in person, and experiencing books not as a commodity, but a primary way of experiencing the world, our place within it, and even outside of it.

Read the full post on HuffPost Books here.

An Unconventional Guide to Tools of Change for Publishing Conference

This week I attended Tools of Change for Publishing Conference in NYC. Below is what I will call an unconventional guide on how to get the most out of the event, and what I found most interesting. I wasn’t able to attend the final day because after days of conversation, I lost my voice. It’s the strangest feeling. So I stayed home the final day and rested my vocal cords. Okay, let’s get started:

FOCUS ON THE PEOPLE, NOT JUST THE IDEAS & INFORMATION

My lunch group on the first day is an example of connections that happen at conferences. This was completely unplanned and unbelievably amazing. Me with Cory Doctorow, Stephanie Anderson, and Rachel Fershleiser. Wonderful conversation around books, reading, libraries, interaction, community. Too many people attend events keeping quietly to themselves and taking notes. Luckily for me, not these people:
Tools of Change for Publishing

Here is my friend Kevin Smokler with his new book Practical Classics! Kevin is the one who put me on a TOC panel for this event: Books at the Block Party: The Economics and Outcomes of a Local Literary Economy. Thanks Kevin!
Tools of Change for Publishing

 
 

 

 
DON’T GET DISTRACTED LIKE I DID

I could not get over how amazing the carpet was at the venue. Who would design something like this? Who would order thousands upon thousands of square yards of it to install in the ballroom of a major hotel in NYC:
Tools of Change for Publishing

I mean everywhere you looked, it just got better and better:
Tools of Change for Publishing

Here is Cory Doctorow’s pants and shoes with the carpet; the only match I could find for it’s amazingness:
Tools of Change for Publishing

 
 

 

 
CONNECTION MATTERS

Having solid wi-fi and power connections changes everything. I was able to Tweet up a storm in the sessions I attended, and got loads of regular work done, meaning I wasn’t stressed about what I was missing while attending the conference.

But the hotel deco continued to blow me away. Look at how PERFECTLY this wi-fi antena matched the wallpaper. It’s almost eerie:
Tools of Change for Publishing

The speakers lounge had tons of wired ethernet connections. That’s a really nice tough, considering the value of a wired connection over wireless.
Tools of Change for Publishing

There were power outlets EVERYWHERE. They were snaked under the chairs in sessions, it would take a small army to use them all up. Then I saw this thing coming out of the wall. This place is powered:
Tools of Change for Publishing

 
 

 

 
THE FOOD WAS (MOSTLY) AMAZING:

The food was incredibly uncommon for a conference. Much higher quality. But… there were some noticeable absences.

When was the last time you had calamari at a conference buffet lunch?
Tools of Change for Publishing

Or the last time you had bottles and bottles of Boylans soda?
Tools of Change for Publishing

Or little jars of honey for your tea?!
Tools of Change for Publishing

The breakfast spread at the speakers lounge was incredible too:
Tools of Change for Publishing

Now let’s talk about the snacks. The first of the three days they had a really nice trail mix. But I kept hearing people ask for chocolate or cookies.
Tools of Change for Publishing

The second day, the snacks were biscotti. Speaking only for myself: when I hit that mid-afternoon slump after hours and hours of sessions for 2 days, hard biscotti did not do much to pick me up. I know, this sounds petty. And it is. I’m petty. I’m sorry. Since I wasn’t able to attend on day 3, I missed out on the rumored Valentines chocolate. So I’m sure that would have made me feel better about the snacks.
Tools of Change for Publishing

 
 

 

 
DON’T GET DISTRACTED LIKE I DID – PART 2

By far the scariest part of the venue was the chandeliers. Any interpretation my mind came up with always went back to some science fiction movie where some evil alien is about to zap out my brain.
Tools of Change for Publishing

These things floating over my head reminded me of something…
Tools of Change for Publishing

Did you ever see the movie Logan’s Run? When everyone had to go to Carousel? That’s what the chandeliers reminded me of:
Tools of Change for Publishing

 
 

 

 
ATTEND THE SESSIONS – LOOK FOR THE UNEXPECTED

Part of the Tools of Change conference was a 1-day mini-event: Author (R)evolution Day. This was an event focused not on publishers or technologists, but for WRITERS. Love that. Here is Kristen McLean moderating a panel:
Tools of Change for Publishing

In another session, someone used a Darth Vader LEGO minifigure to represent Amazon.com:
Tools of Change for Publishing

This is every businesses dream slide:
Tools of Change for Publishing

Laura Dawson had this elephant slide. I can’t remember why. Something about books. And an elephant:
Tools of Change for Publishing

 
 

 

 
RESIST THE URGE TO BECOME JADED

A big part of Tools of Change is showcasing startups and new technologies that could positively affect publishing. It took awhile for me to get used to what you COULD call “pitching” in many of the presentations. A moderator who has a book coming out mentioning it again and again; a speaker showing us a video commercial for his product that includes smiling children; points being made about what is good for readers and writers, and then immediately turning back around to how their product delivers the solution.

I had to keep myself from being jaded, and remind myself that what Tools of Change is trying to do is give the stage to companies that have great ideas, great technology, but only a small footprint in the world. How can we give them a voice?

Where I found myself especially hopeful in this manner was the Startup Showcase. It is here that you interact directly with the founders of small companies. I only got to speak to about half of them (because the lack of sugary treats required an extra afternoon coffee run), but all were passionate and smart. Here are some of them demoing their wares:

Tools of Change for Publishing

Tools of Change for Publishing

Tools of Change for Publishing

Tools of Change for Publishing

The one startup that I least expected was Paperight. Here is someone trying to solve a problem that I hear NO ONE else talking about, and that I had never considered myself. How do poorer regions of South Africa gain access to books. Areas where very very few people have a computer or web connection. Here he is giving us the story:
Tools of Change for Publishing

And here is a map of where they are already in the field in communities. The other startups I spoke to were great. I missed speaking to some of them. But this one made me care about a problem I didn’t know existed 5 minutes earlier. That’s the kind of unexpected things I look for at an event such as this:
Tools of Change for Publishing

So I want to end with two things. The first is this slide from a Goodreads survey. Question: “What Convinced You To Read That Book?” The top answer: “Trusted Friends.” Love that.
Tools of Change for Publishing

And lastly, a HUGE thank you to the conference chairs Kat Meyer and Joe Wikert who put together a wonderful event! Also: isn’t Kat’s dress amazing? I looked it up: it’s Anthropologie’s “Athena” dress. Well played Kat Meyer:
Tools of Change for Publishing

Book Camp – Creating Community Around Books

I had some wonderful conversations around reading, books, and publishing this weekend, and I want to give you an inside peek at something called Book^2 Camp.

The event is held once a year (my recap of the last two Book Camps: 2012 and 2010), and is an unconference, meaning the entire agenda is created by the individuals attending.

The conversations I was most interested in were those that concerned encouraging the value of reading, books, and literature in local communities. We discussed the very real challenges faced by bookstores and libraries, and brainstormed ways to bring a community together around books, information, stories, and education. These are some of the same topics I discussed in my blog post last week: Writers, Readers, and Expanding Our Capacity to Create.

Below is a photo tour of Book Camp…

The event took place in scenic, sludgy, New York City. The place where snow is magical the first five minutes after it falls, and a disgusting mess for days afterwards:
Book Camp

You know you are in New York when nearly every coat is black or a shade of dark gray:
Book Camp

The event was graciously hosted by Workman Publishing in their offices:
Book Camp

The day is incredibly social, and it quickly builds from the small group seen here to about 120 book folks who decided to spend their Sunday chatting about book culture:
Book Camp

Yes, there were Book Camp temporary tattoos:
Book Camp

Book Camp has the feel of a really good party where you find yourself being pulled from conversation to conversation:
Book Camp

It officially kicks off with people standing on tables, explaining how the day will work. Here we see Book Camp organizers Ami Greko, Kat Meyer, and Chris Kubica:
Book Camp

Everyone in the crowd can suggest a discussion topic. Ami will then read them out, and Chris will paste it to the schedule on the wall:
Book Camp

Here is Ami pitching someone’s session:
Book Camp

The agenda quickly fills up. There are four time slots, and four different conversations per time slot. The biggest problem is choosing which of the many great conversations to engage in. And as Kat said in her opening, you are encouraged to gravitate towards topics that you are unfamiliar with in order to broaden your horizons:
Book Camp

The basic schedule for the day:
Book Camp

And the initial batch of sessions. This gets completely filled up about an hour into the event as people suggest more ideas:
Book Camp

Book Camp signage was key to quickly navigating between sessions:
Book Camp

Book Campers making their selection, and scurrying to their meeting places:
Book Camp

The first session was about Zines and the value of created by NOT creating content that need a ‘like’ or a ‘retweet.’ This is a big trend I am seeing and will be writing more and more about: the opposite of going ‘viral.’ Can you create a deeper experience by not sharing it broadly to the world.
Book Camp

Between sessions, Book Camp turns into the hallway in high school between classes. You quickly catch up with old friends, and make connections with new ones as you grab a soda and run to your next ‘class.’
Book Camp

The next session was lead by Kristen McLean, and we discussed ways to rethink libraries and bookstores. A really smart conversation because those in the audience have been deeply involved in so many aspects of the publishing world:
Book Camp

The next session again focused on the in-person experience of books, with a particular focus on events and bookstores. Jenn Northington took copious notes on ideas for her store, Word bookstore, in Brooklyn.
Book Camp

I popped in and out of sessions throughout the rest of the afternoon:
Book Camp

And another:
Book Camp

Our fuel throughout the day:
Book Camp

Between sessions, everyone races back to the big schedule, where more sessions keep popping up:
Book Camp

Another discussion:
Book Camp

A lot of folks really make Book Camp happen, including very generous sponsors and lots of volunteers:
Book Camp

The day ends with copious amounts of wine:
Book Camp

The day has unwritten rules that we are looking beyond buzzwords to find solutions for the publishing world that best serves everyone in the process between the writer and the reader. I loved how expansive many of the discussions were, where we looked outside of the obvious places and ideas.

Events like this fuel my passion for the publishing world because you see how invested these people are in supporting writers, readers, and communities.

Thank you to EVERYONE who made Book Camp possible!

Thanks.
-Dan

Fear and Writing: Do You Hide Your Writing From Friends & Family?

by Matthew Turner

Friends… Family… Colleagues… you have to love them, don’t you?

They’re always there for you, yet sometimes we feel more vulnerable around them than when we’re surrounded by strangers. I spent six years writing my first novel, and up until a few months ago, only a handful of people knew about it.

I’m not sure why, but the thought of telling my friends and family was terrifying. Strangers, sure, that’s the easy part.

Those you love… that’s a whole other realm.

A Frightening Journey
Writing a book takes many hours. It’s a journey on epic levels, especially if it’s your first. You are putting your heart and soul on the page and leaving yourself open to anything.

Hatred from strangers is one thing, but what if those you love hate it too? Or what if they are merely apathetic? What if they think less of me for it?

I suppose this is what was holding me back: fear. In the early days of writing, I was an amateur, so didn’t have to share my work with anyone. But once I decided to take it to the next level (as Mr Pressfield would say, Turn Pro) I had to get the confidence to share it with those special folks in my life.

And this involved confronting every fear I have about my writing, and even my identity to friends and family.

The 5 Fs
I want to share with you my thoughts on telling friends and family about my writing. I want to tell you because I know I’m not alone in this struggle. I hear stories all the time about people feeling more anxiety toward sharing their writing with those they know, than those they don’t. It sounds absurd, until it is your own writing, and your own family and friends. So let’s dig into this mindset:

  1. FEAR
    Imagine this scenario: a marketer who hadn’t taken a writing class since he was sixteen, releasing a novel. That’s me.

    Simply put: I was terrified about what those who knew me would think. I was scared of their judging eyes. I feared their pessimism, or even taunts. And it ate away at me inside. A writer needs thick skin, but they also need a support network that keeps you pushing onward. I feared I wouldn’t have this.

    The outcome: Once I did share my work with friends and family, I found that most people were very supportive, thought my novel was great, and weren’t all that surprised I had created it. It was an incredible feeling to realize that the support network I need is very much in full force. I’m a lucky boy.

  2. FEEDBACK
    All writers need feedback. Getting it from a stranger is one thing, receiving it from your best friend or family member, well, this can be hard to take. What if they hated it or couldn’t stand to finish? How would it affect our relationship?

    The outcome: I didn’t ask too many friends for early feedback, and those who I tend to speak to about it are great. They don’t always love what I write, but their honest feedback isn’t as difficult to take as I expected. Even though it feels safer to not share, I am learning to build that habit with those around me.

    

  3. FUTURE
    One aspect I feared was the future. I didn’t know if they would look at me the same. Would they assume I wouldn’t want to come and watch football, or were they worried about speaking honestly around me in the fear of it one day appearing in a book?

    The outcome: my mind was acting like a crazy fool. My friends are friends, and they wouldn’t treat me differently simply because they now know I am a writer.

  4. FORGIVENESS
    I was worried that my friends and family would be hurt about leaving them in the dark for so long, that I spent years writing this book in secret.

    I felt rather guilty about the whole process, especially around those who I’m very very close with. They lived under the assumption they knew me better than most, but here I was with a rather large secret. Is the life of a writer a double-life?

    The outcome: people were happy for me, that I had another creative outlet. Some were surprised with this identity I hand’t told them about, and some seemed unsure. They supported me though, and once they read my work they quickly saw that I’d taken the process seriously. This, I feel, eased any scepticism.

  5. FRIENDSHIP
    I was generally worried about what it would do to my social group. I have a rather tight-knit friendship with a few select folk, and I was anxious if this new direction would take me away from them.

    The outcome: Like I said earlier, friends are friends. It generally takes a lot to change this. I also think it helped a few people look at themselves and ask whether they were happy. I took a huge risk, and people respect this – although I won’t lie, I sense some people want me to fail. This is more down to insecurity than anything else, though.

My Irrational Mind
I hope you haven’t gone through the same worries, but I suspect some have. For one reason or another, telling those closest to you about something so special leaves you vulnerable and scared.

Will you lose a few friends? Maybe, but they probably weren’t that good a friend in the first place. Will things change? A little, sure, but your life is still your life. It’s for you to decide.

Overall I’m glad my friends and family know about my writing. It’s a weight off of my shoulders; one I didn’t know I had until it was lifted off of them.

If you suffer similar self-destruction please share them in the comments below. I’m not alone in this, that I’m sure of. It would be amazing to hear what other people have gone through, what they did to overcome it, and how they move forward with their chin held high.

Let’s crowd source some solutions and help people who have yet to make the jump.

– Matthew turner


Matthew Turner is a writer from Yorkshire, England. His debut novel, Beyond Parallel launches January 8th. He is offering a special promotion where you receive more than $50 of bonuses in the first three days. In the same mold as Sliding Doors, Beyond Parallel flips between two parallel tales.