Elizabeth and I just got back from two weeks in France, which gave me the chance to read one of the most important bestsellers of this young century: That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back by Thomas Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum. It provides a comprehensive perspective on America’s four largest problems and how to update our five-step formula for national greatness so we can play the role only America can and for which the world depends on us.
The World at Your Fingertips
One reason the book is essential for writers is its vision of a hyper-connected world. Two billion people are already on the Web, many using the 4.5 billion cell phones for the planet’s 6.8
billion people. Smartphones explode your potential for connecting, creating, and collaborating. They are already transforming the world. You can get online on the top of Mt. Everest. By the end of the decade, most of the people on the planet will have smartphones that will be even more amazing at delivering all media all the time anywhere.
You are writing for a hyper-connected world. This offers you vast opportunities for reaching a growing worldwide audience in as many forms, media, and countries as you wish. To be a successful writer in a hyper-connected world, you need to be a one-person, multimedia, multinational conglomerate. This requires a large continually growing team of collaborators,
online and off. In Part 4 of my six posts on “The 6 Cs for Becoming a Successful Writer in the Digital Age,” I mentioned collaboration in the section on “Contentpreneuring.” But reading That Used to Be Us made me appreciate how essential collaborating is to every part of the writing and publishing process and why its importance will continue to grow. I think we will see more authors, like Friedman and Mandelbaum, collaborate to take advantage of both their combined craft, creativity, and ability to promote their work, and the growing opportunities to profit from it, but most authors will continue to write their books alone.
9 Ways Collaborate on Your Success
Once you finish your manuscript or proposal, the rest of the process requires collaborating with
- early readers, a critique group, or a freelance editor
- an agent, if you use one, on prepping and selling your book
- an editor on preparing, publishing, and promoting your book
- the rest of the house on your book’s success
- your communities of fans, writers, and publishing professionals on building word of mouth and mouse
- the media to develop effective appearances
- co-agents to help you sell the subsidiary rights you keep, such as film and foreign rights that create more opportunities for collaboration
- pros who can help you develop your book for other media such as apps, if you have electronic rights
- organizations that can offer you speaking engagements
You and your communities will help each other. You can barter for goods and services, partner with professionals, and hire virtual assistants. Be creative and resourceful in choosing the best people and tools to get a job done. Don’t feel overwhelmed by the challenges, just do your best, and you’ll get better at it, and benefit from your efforts. Collaborating will be a continual learning process, but the Web has opened a world of possibilities, and I hope you will make the most of them.
(A money-back guarantee: If you read That Used to Be Us and feel I wasted your time, I will happily refund what you pay for it. Just send the receipt and tell me where I went wrong.)
[Formatting anomalies not in draft. Suggestions welcome.]
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